In an exclusive interview, Bob the Drag Queen talks about the dangers they faced filming the new season.
Photo: Greg Endries/HBO
From the very start, the project of HBO’s documentary series We’re Here has been to show small town communities the human side of drag. The series follows RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela as they crisscross the nation nurturing and mentoring everyday people as they dip their toes into the world of drag performance for the very first time. Their interactions are often heartbreaking and inspiring, illuminating the struggles of queer people living in small towns and the discrimination they face.
In an exclusive interview with LGBTQ Nation, Bob and Executive producers Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram talk about the outright hostility they felt filming the new season.
As everyone involved is quick to note, each show season has presented unique challenges. Filming on Season 1 was cut short in 2020 due to the pandemic, while in Season 2, the cast and crew, like so many others in the entertainment industry, had to navigate new safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And in both seasons, the production frequently faced anti-LGBTQ pushback and occasional outright hostility from the communities in which they filmed.
But Season 3 was different. Shortly after production started this spring, reports of protests at drag shows and all-ages Pride events proliferated in the media. Seemingly overnight, drag queens became a favorite punching bag for Republican politicians, right-wing commentators, and anti-LGBTQ extremists.
“I wish I could say that I’m shocked to see it happening. But I’m not shocked,” Bob told LGBTQ Nation. “Economics doesn’t trickle down, but bullsh*t does. And when people at the top are spewing hatred and horrible, horrible rhetoric…why would you be shocked that it trickles down to every part of our community?”
Executive producer Stephen Warren, who co-created the series with executive producer Johnnie Ingram, recalled the resistance the cast and crew faced filming the pilot episode two years ago during the 2020 presidential campaign. “There was a truck with a Trump flag and people screaming at us as they walked by. And that threw us,” Warren remembered. “That is nothing—nothing—compared to what we started to feel [this season].”
In town after town, the show faced hostility from people who seemed newly emboldened by the hateful rhetoric proliferating online from Twitter accounts like Libs of TikTok and Republican politicians looking to score cheap political points at the expense of the LGBTQ community. In Utah, police received what ultimately turned out to be a bogus threat of a mass shooting at the drag show they put on for every episode.
“The protests were way more intense,” Warren says. “The protests were not just behind our backs. This year there was a huge difference.”
“We experienced full-on macro aggressions,” says Bob. “There were towns where the city council tried to have us run out of town completely—to shut our entire show down. There were towns where people threatened us with gun violence just for existing. And then we had towns where there was just no opposition at all. Because we travel far and wide.”
“This season we had to have additional security, not just at the regular drag event. We had to have security guards dressed in regular clothes always near our production.” Ingram explains. “In Granbury, Texas, there were threats to our drag show, so we had to beef up our security for that particular drag event.”
Filming what would become the Season 3 premiere in Granbury was especially difficult for everyone involved. “I’ve said, if I never go back to Granbury, Texas, it’ll be too soon,” Bob says. “That place was wild. It was the first time I was like, These people really hate us. They do not want us here. I would have left if it was up to me.”