We’re Here is a new HBO show starring three famous drag queens who visit rural towns across America. Let me just tell you… the amount of tears I cried throughout this show is beyond calculable. If you want to do something as a straight/cis ally during the month of #Pride, I’m asking that this please be one of the things you do: watch all six episodes of this series. Yes, all six. The collective story is so much richer than just one episode on its own.
Pride month is often most visibly about White gay men, like myself, seen dancing in ginormous city parades surrounded by supportive allies. Sadly, though, that misses so much of the Queer experience and so much of the important within-group differences for the Queer community. I am not an LGBTQ person. There’s actually no such thing. I’m only the G part. And only one privileged version of that part.
Many of our nation’s queer individuals (and the majority of queer youth) are not in large cities surrounded by allies. They are in small towns trying to reconcile who they are with where they live and what they’ve been taught. It’s an intersection of faith, culture, geography, and identity. This HBO series adds so much beautiful nuance to the unique experiences, struggles, pains, and celebrations of Queer folx in rural areas whose stories are not often told.
These are people who actually may be in your daily life right now, if you’re willing to see them. As someone who grew up in a small, religious, rural Oklahoma town, I never knew a single gay person growing up. There’s a unique loneliness and perceived invisibility for many Queer folx in rural areas. And there is also a growing number of Queer leaders and activists who decide to fight for inclusivity right where they are, rather than moving to a more progressive city as so many of us feel we need to do. Both types of stories cut right to the heart, and these stories are incredibly powerful.
Visibility matters. In this series, three wonderful drag queens (Shangela, Eureka, and Bob the Drag Queen) — who each have global success and small-town roots — introduce us to Queer communities in rural locations. We meet the Queer folx who were already there (though often unseen) and we meet some of the local residents, as their town is presented with an opportunity to practice inclusivity through the power of a drag show.
It’s joyful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s entertaining, and it’s thought-provoking. The people of our nation are in the midst of a powerful movement for Black lives. And since it’s also Pride month, I think it’s an important time for us to also affirm that *all* Black lives matter. Queer Black lives matter. Trans Black lives matter. Nonbinary and nonconforming Black lives matter. This show is also a beautiful and painful reminder of what the intersection of Queerness and Blackness can be in many rural areas as well.
Pride started as a riot led by strong Queer and trans people of color. And ever since that time, drag queens have also always been leaders and activists for and in our community. Drag has never just been about costumes, makeup, and jokes (although I’m one of the biggest fans of Rupaul’s Drag Race you’ll ever meet). It has also always been political. Our very existence as Queer people is, in itself, political. Our struggle to be seen and protected and celebrated is all at the core of our need to advocate for ourselves and fight for justice for everyone.
To all the Queer and trans people of color who may see this post, I want to to my part to help make sure you are seen in every space you enter and valued for all of who you are. You matter. You matter to me, and you matter for the more just and equitable world we are creating together.
Anyway, it’s a great show, and I really hope you watch it. Happy Pride! #Pride2020 🏳️🌈