HBO showrunners "disturbed" by Utah political fallout after drag show
The showrunners behind HBO's reality drag show "We're Here" say a pending episode in St. George produced the most extreme political fallout they've seen in three seasons.
Catch up quick: The series stages professional drag shows featuring locals alongside its team of drag stars, mostly in conservative cities where LGBTQ+ communities historically don't have much support.
- St. George city manager Adam Lenhard resigned under pressure last month after he issued a permit to the show to stage and film a drag show for 2,000 people this summer in the town square for an episode that will air next month.
- Amid right-wing protests against the show, Lenhard said in messages obtained by the St. George Spectrum that denying the permit would violate the First Amendment and lead to costly lawsuits.
Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, executive producer Steve Warren said the retaliation against city staff for permitting a town square drag show is "very, very disturbing."
What they're saying: "St. George … is the canary in the coal mine, where there are a few misinformed, very disproportionately loud voices that are taking over city governments," Warren told Axios. "We're seeing this happen across the country."
The latest: After The Salt Lake Tribune reported Lenhard's confidential $625,000 settlement, crowds again gathered this month at city hall, some protesting anti-LGBTQ bigotry, and others complaining that the "pride community" is too "welcomed" in St. George.
Yes, but: Warren said southern Utahns have told him that the show, with "all those people in that park, ignited a movement there."
- "You can try and push us into the darkness, but we won't let that happen," Johnnie Ingram, also an executive producer, told Axios. "We're going to come, we're going to celebrate, and we're going to live our lives brightly and authentically and show that we come from a place of love."
Zoom out: The show has gotten an array of reactions in the towns it has visited.
- In South Dakota and Texas, for example, local mayors supported the show's right to perform and film in public.
- But in Indiana, a Methodist pastor was fired for performing in drag on the show to support his daughter.
What's next: The episode will air Dec. 9, with the show's team returning to St. George on Dec. 7 for a fundraiser screening with Pride of Southern Utah.
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