We’re Here is back — about one year and a global pandemic later.
With the necessary precautions in place, Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela hit the road for season 2 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the process, they’ve continued changing the lives of LGBTQ people and allies across the United States, with a drag makeover and one fabulous drag show a week.
“The only thing that was really difficult is this is such an emotional show, and our drag participants go through such an emotional experience, you just want to hug them. I know I do. I want to hug everybody,” Shangela, 39, tells PEOPLE. “And at the beginning of our season, when we first went back to filming, we weren’t able to reach out and hug [people] the way that we had been able to in the past.”
For the first episode, the trio returned to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where their time was cut short at the end of season 1 in March 2020. Although they’d already met their drag protégés before the pandemic forced production to shut down, there was now a year of growth to catch up on.
For Eureka, 31, seeing her drag child Noah come out as nonbinary after struggling with their gender identity when the group was last in Spartanburg was a moment of pure queer joy.
“It was incredible to get to return. One, because it was like, okay, we’re officially back in the game. We came back and took care of unfinished business,” she says. “But it was mind-blowing to see how much change manifested in Noah’s life, us being gone for a year and through a pandemic.”
“It was really cool to see them come back full force a year later when I returned, and [to] see the growth,” Eureka continues. “It was mind-blowing. I was just like, ‘Yes, the glow up is real.'”
Season 2 became a family affair not just for the participants who were able to live their truths in front of their own families, but also for their drag queen mentors who reconnected with their own loved ones while on the road.
Bob, 35, was joined by her niece for one particularly mind-blowing number set to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” which gave them the opportunity to show that their moves run in the family.
“That’s an idea I’ve actually had for a long time. And I finally had a great opportunity to do it, and my niece was the perfect person for it ‘cause she’s a really great dancer,” Bob explains. “She’s a gymnast and a cheerleader.”
Eureka also had the chance to perform with four generations of her drag family located in Tennessee, a short drive from Spartanburg.
“It was four decades of drag on stage with me, and the legacy within my drag family. So it was just important, I thought. Coming back to Spartanburg, I was given the option to do the opening number as a host,” she recounts. “And I was like, ‘My family is not far from here. Let’s make it mean something.’ If I’m going to do drag on this grand scale of HBO, I want to make all of my performance mean something to me.”
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And although they stayed busy during their travels, Bob, Eureka and Shangela made time for each other as a chosen family. They even made a weekly ritual of watching Eureka compete on season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, which aired while they were on the road.
“Every Thursday, our girl was on there, Eureka. So we would go to her motel room. We would hook it up on the TV, and we would watch it,” Shangela recalls. “I even bought a TV once. We stay in small hotels … and I remember going to Walmart and purchasing a large TV because I wanted us to watch her episode on a big screen.”
“I love to cook when we’re on the road. If I get a kitchenette in my room, I’m cooking something. And I’m inviting the girls … so we have little family moments,” Eureka adds. “And we celebrate it with each other because we’re all we really got in these areas.”
See Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela on season 2 of We’re Here, with new episodes streaming Mondays on HBO Max.