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Drag Queen Reality Series Discusses Latter-day Saint Faith & Causes Controversy in New Episode

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Normally a feel-good show about “spreading love and connection through the art of drag,” We’re Here faced controversy when filming in St. George, Utah.

In the HBO Max docuseries, Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fame travel the country to invite local town residents to step outside their comfort zones by participating in one-night-only drag shows. The third episode of the third season was filmed in St. George and prominently features discussions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a controversy that occurred when some members of the local government tried to have the show’s permit to produce the drag show revoked.

“The queens help a bisexual woman who left Mormonism, a teen struggling with being misgendered and an advocate for the queer community,” the episode description reads.

From left to right: Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela, and Eureka O’Hara dress in outfits inspired by the Southern Utah landscape. Photo courtesy of HBO & St. George News.

“Utah was definitely very harsh when it came to our show. They did everything they could to try and close our show shut down,” said Eureka in an on-screen interview that featured in the episode. The queens said they took all the proper channels and had a permit to shoot the drag show performance in the town square. However, council members began to question the decision, stating the drag show was too mature to be held in public places where young children could see. Councilwoman Michelle Tanner, in a statement to Entertainment Weekly, said that she had no concerns about the LGBTQ community, but simply didn’t feel a drag show was “appropriate in a children’s location.” The Town Square includes a downtown children’s play area and a public children’s museum.

“I think when you are discussing more sexual-related issues, at this point, I think we’re seeing a lot of sexualization of children in general, so I don’t feel like that’s appropriate,” she said. “I’ve seen episodes where there are boobs shaken in the face. There’s obviously mature content discussed, there are swear words, things like that.”

During “emergency meetings” held by the City Council, supporters of the show and the local LGBTQ community attended in droves. Ultimately, the permit was not revoked and the show went forward as planned. In spite of the controversy, the crew of the show said they experienced a significant lack of anti-gay slurs compared to other filming locations. “There was never really any hostility,” said director Peter LoGreco to the St. George News. Show creators Stephen Warren and Johnnie Ingram also noticed the friendliness of the city and only experienced trouble once the City Council became involved two days before the drag show was to be filmed. Overall, the cast and crew noted they felt that the animosity towards the LGBTQ was “behind your back.”

“They’re worried that we’re going to convert the Mormons to gays,” Eureka said. “You can’t convert anyone to gay. If that was the case, we’d be doing missions, too.” Overall, the episode is disparaging of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One more positive note from filming is when Eureka is invited into the St. George Temple Visitors’ Center by a local missionary while in full drag. The episode premiered on December 9, 2022, and can be viewed with an HBO Max subscription. A short recap of the episode can be viewed below, including scenes from the drag show.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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