DEL RIO, Texas – The town of Del Rio was shaken up by drag performances from their very own mayor and LGBTQ+ community members who were part of the Emmy-nominated HBO show “We’re Here.”
The Del Rio episode, which was released Monday and filmed in June during Pride Month, followed Mayor Bruno Lozano, Del Rio’s first openly gay elected official, and two LGBTQ+ community members -- Joey and Esael -- as they prepared for the performance of a lifetime in drag in front of their loved ones and the town’s residents. The trio was paired with drag performers Shangela, Eureka and Bob the Drag Queen, who previously competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Lozano, who spoke with KSAT for a South Texas Pride Q&A, said he wanted to be on the series to show that Del Rio isn’t just a small town mired by a border crisis.
“We need people to represent us on television. Oftentimes, we see people that are not us. And what I mean by us -- we have a small border town, Del Rio, Texas, that has been on the national spotlight for different reasons. And a lot of those reasons have been because of crises,” Lozano said. “This is an opportunity to have my hometown shine and share a genuine story of love, of growth, of acceptance and perseverance.”
Lozano, Esael and Joey (now Estella) were each paired with a well-known drag queen to practice and perform their show-stopping numbers and reveal their true selves throughout the show.
Co-creators and executive producers of the show, Johnnie Ingram and Stephen Warren, say Del Rio holds a special place in their hearts after filming both of the show’s seasons.
“This third episode in Del Rio was obviously to showcase the Tejano and Latino culture in a way that I’ve never seen on television before, and we wanted that, specifically a border town with three people that could really, you know, connect to the world,” Warren told KSAT during a South Texas Pride Q&A. (See the Q&A with the co-creators below.)
The co-creators say they choose small towns for the show to help LGBTQ+ people all over the U.S. see the representation they lack in their hometowns.
“When you look around, you don’t often see a reflection of yourself, and that community tends to force you to not really, you know, celebrate your individuality or your sexuality or even talk about it openly,” Ingram said. “So it makes it really hard to not only exist but to feel comfortable in your own community.”
The drag aspect of the show helps spur important and serious conversations in a fun way that can help others open up.
“I think we wanted to ignite those conversations that haven’t happened for, you know, many, many years for some reason,” Ingram said. “For some reason, drag like really opens up those doors to conversations. And because it’s so fun and celebratory and awesome and, you know, a spectacle.”
Mayor Lozano said getting ready for the drag performance was an experience in and of itself, but it was all worth it when he saw his community cheering for him and his drag sisters.
“I heard the energy. No nerves. This is my community, and they turned out. They were there present. I felt the energy. I believed in what I was doing. I believed in myself,” Lozano said.
“We’re Here” airs at 9 p.m. Mondays on HBO and is also available on HBO Max. For more information about the show, click here.
To hear more from Lozano, watch the South Texas Pride Q&A in the video player above. Watch the full Q&A with the show’s co-creators in the video player below.
South Texas Pride Q&A: HBO’s ‘We’re Here’ co-creators discuss this week’s Del Rio episode, show’s second season