We’re Here Drag Queen Stars Talk Filming in Tennessee and Oklahoma

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Season 4 of “We’re Here” sees new hosts Priyanka, Sasha Velour, Latrice Royale and Jaida Essence Hall travelling to red states Tennessee and Oklahoma, where safety had become a concern at times because of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats. “It was frightening sometimes,” Jaida told me Wednesday night at the season premiere screening and party at the Avalon Hollywood. “It was eye-opening, imagining other people like myself who have to live in those spaces and see that every day. It’s just heartbreaking.”

Series co-creator Steve Warren said, “It’s surreal we had to think about our security. We are living in 2024. Ten years ago we were so hopeful. Marriage equality had just passed. We were living in a space where we thought we’re not going to have to fight the old battles.”

Even so, the new season continues to help its participants — and cast and crew, for that matter — heal. Show co-creator Johnnie Ingram grew up in rural Tennessee. “Growing up, I really could never be my authentic self,” he said. “It was been very heartwarming to have my own personal ‘We’re Here’ moment. I think we’re all learning from each other.”

Sasha spent most of her childhood in Urbana, Ill. “I’m a small town queen at heart,” she said. “It’s important to uplift people who stay in their hometowns. But I also got to see more how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come. That’s what I wanted all my drag kids to see – that you have the ability to be an incredible person.”

In one of the season’s most powerful storylines, Sasha helps Jess, a trans woman in Oklahoma, come out about her gender identity during their drag show in a local church. “It takes such boldness to be able to share that vulnerability with everyone,” Sasha said. “It spoke to be on a personal level and I know it’s going to touch so many people.”

As drag bans and anti-trans legislation have become a political rallying cry for certain segments of the right, Warren said he hopes Season 4 inspires the LGBTQ community and its allies into action. “This is our most urgent season,” Warren said. I’m begging everyone this November to get out there and vote. Our lives are depending on it.”

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