Season 2/AllStars 3 legend Shangela spoke with the Hollywood Reporter about her latest series HBO’s We’re Here (which aired its finale last night). The show, which followed her, Eureka and Bob the Drag Queen infiltrating small-town America, challenging bigotry, and transforming the hearts and minds of the people they met.
“With so much going on in the world right now, it’s been nice being able to put something out there that not only makes you feel good, but hopefully inspires change in those who need it most,” Shangela said. “Yes, drag is glitz and glam on the outside. But how it affects people on the inside is where the real magic happens.”
Below, an excerpt of her interview in which she talks about We’re Here‘s potential impact to uplift marginalized communities as Pride Month begins, the reignited Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd‘s death and unceasing police brutality against black people.
What is the best way to fight racism and support the black community right now?
The first step is acknowledging the existence of systemic racism and bias, even within our queer community, and then coupling that with commitment and action in fighting it. There are a number of organizations that have been dedicated to this battle for decades — NAACP, ACLU and more. Look around, be informed.
Now that we’ve entered Pride Month, Pride marches and Black Lives Matter protests are beginning to overlap. What message do you have for the LGBTQ community — especially its black members, who face layers of systemic oppression, discrimination and violence?
During this time of unrest in our country, it’s important that we all remember that Pride was born out of protest. The only reason we have the freedom to celebrate our queerness in the streets alongside businesses, allies and other vibrant queens, is because of the defiant gays who resisted the oppression, brutality discrimination and decided to stand up to it. Let’s remember the spirit of those leaders this Pride, as we stand up for justice and equality for all. We must remember we are a community, and until all in a community are equal, none of us are.
How would you describe the power of drag in 2020, an election year?
The power of drag in 2020 is transformative. It has the potential to transform our ways of thinking because it challenges a lot of people’s definitions of what they do and don’t support. Over these last few years, we’ve been led in a way that has really divided our nation and made the world’s respect for us as an inclusive country really … plummet. I was going to say “go down the toilet” but I was trying to find a word that was a little more appropriate. (Laughs) It’s hard being someone who travels around the world. You used to be so proud to say, “I’m from America!” and everyone’s like, “Yes!” They’re now like, “It’s great that you’re from America, but child, what about y’all’s government?” And we used to not have to experience that, but you know what? That’s also a conversation that we’re encouraging people to have. There are a lot of people who thought that LGBTQ people were greatly accepted in communities across America. Gay marriage was legalized in 2015, so, “Yay!” But what We’re Here is doing is shining a light on places that have not come as far as we thought they had or could have. And hopefully we’re inspiring them to do so, to be progressive.
Do you see drag as more political or ministerial?
Whether it’s political or ministry, it brings about a word that hopefully brings us to a greater connection to each other. It’s all conversation. What is ministry? Ministry is having someone who is inspiring us to look at ourselves and hopefully be better and have hope that we can make it to a greater day. What is political congregation? It’s inspiring hope for people to think that our government can lead us to a better way of living for our country. So, drag in this aspect on We’re Here, is inspiring hope, whether it’s in the press room or in the pulpit. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s a conversation that inspires hope. And that’s what we want to do.
Read the entire interview here.