April 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Cross-dressing as a means of cultural outreach took another unusual turn this week with the launch of a new HBO series about drag queens traveling the United States to give drag makeovers in small towns.
“We travel across this country to take people from who they are to what they can be,” declares the trailer for We’re Here. “We’re actually taking some of the locals and turning them into fierce drag queens.” The trailer starts off lighthearted, focusing on the flamboyance of drag, but soon takes on a more serious tone, framing drag as a path to LGBT acceptance.
“Love is love is love,” one of the stars declares, adding that he sees his job as to “get out there and educate.”
KCRW explained that the show stars Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela, and Eureka O’Hara, all of whom were previously featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“We're familiar with the challenges that people are going to face. We're familiar with the hardships in a small town,” Shangela elaborates. “But we're also products — and I think good products — of small towns. But as long as you go in there with an open mind and some activism … we have found pockets of support that we wouldn't have expected.”
“Racism and intolerance is just a part of the fabric of where we are,” adds Darryl, the protege of Bob the Drag Queen. “If I'm not willing to live in the shoes of somebody who does drag, then how can I expect someone to understand my experiences as a black man? If you see where black people had to come from, then we have that much farther to go for people who are gay or lesbian, for people who are trans.”
Ultimately, Shangela says, the show’s mission is to further mainstream drag — and, implicitly, gender fluidity — by bringing it to parts of the United States where it’s less common: “If ‘Duck Dynasty’ is your mainstream, then we still haven’t gotten there yet. But that’s what this show, ‘We’re Here,’ is hoping to do.”
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Compassion for people’s differences is far from drag’s only message, however. The nationwide Drag Queen Story Hour movement, in which drag queens read to children at public libraries, admits that its purpose is to indoctrinate children about “intersectionality” and “learn(ing) to see beyond the pink and blue gender binary.”
In 2017, the University of Cambridge’s Stonewall report found that 96 percent of trans students in Scotland attempted self-harm through actions such as cutting themselves, and 40 percent attempted suicide. Forty percent in the United States have attempted suicide, as well, according to a 2016 survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). According to a 2011 study out of Sweden, trans people remain 19 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population, even after surgery to reconstruct their bodies.