At first glance, HBO’s We’re Here can be categorized as a makeover show that aligns with the 1995 cult classic To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Three drag queens come into a small town, teach cisgender people how to be more fabulous, and then leave knowing that they have taught a lesson of acceptance.
Although all of that is included in We’re Here, it barely scratches the surface as to what the reality series does. As the show’s Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara said during Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees all-day event, they help take people from “who they are to what they can be.”
During the HBO panel, Shangela and Bob the Drag Queen talked about the show and what they hoped it can do for the LGTBQ community and beyond. Eureka was not able to attend, but they were able to provide insight about what the show meant to them.
Throughout the first season of We’re Here (the show has been renewed for a second season), we are taken on a journey through small-town America as the three queens “werk” their magic to help not only make people over but also raise voices of the queer community and allies. Bob the Drag Queen points out that everyone featured in the show comes from a wide range of races, gender identities and socio-economic backgrounds. Though for her there was one episode that stood out.
“I am so proud that we were able to work with the Navajo nation up in Ship Rock, New Mexico,” she said. “That’s probably one of the proudest moments in my whole career.” She added that it was so moving for her to watch that community — specifically the Indigenous queer community — to support her drag daughter Nate’s powerful performance.
After the panel, O’Hara reached out to Deadline to add to the conversation and said show creators Johnnie Ingram and Steve Warren were clear that they wanted to showcase diversity.
“In the drag world, we haven’t had a lot of diverse representation and that was very important to me because a mind-set that drag is only men dressing as women is incorrect,” O’Hara said. “There are many gender spectrums and forms of drag that we wanted to showcase” from bearded to femme to drag kings to trans.
“It was time to showcase all the elements of our social culture and I’m excited to move into season two with the same diverse agenda,” O’Hara said.
Shangela chimed in to talk about how she was initially excited when she was first approached by the creators to do the show, and she had one request. “Please do not make me work with Bob the Drag Queen,” Shangela shaded.
Bob the Drag Queen leaned in and raised her eyebrows, “How did that work out for you?”
After a laugh, Shangela said what it was she really wanted from the show: “I wanted two things: greater visibility for the diversity, and different walks of life for the queer community and authenticity,” she said. “It had to reflect who we are, what we stand for and what we’ve for a long time been part of a legacy of which is true drag.”
Check out the video above, and click here to watch all of Sunday’s Contenders TV panels.