Selma is used to being a media backdrop for stories about the struggle for civil rights.
Monday, the city will be featured in a national cable show about a different struggle: what it’s like to be Black and gay in a small city in the Deep South.
Selma will be front and center in the Emmy ®-nominated unscripted series “WE’RE HERE” Monday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. Central on HBO, and it will be available to stream on HBO Max.
Now in its second season, the show follows renowned drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela as they “continue their journey spreading love and connection across small-town America, through the art of drag,” according to a news release. The queens recruit local residents to participate in one-night-only drag shows “to express their genuine selves in front of their families, friends and communities,” the release states.
Director and Executive Producer Peter LoGreco said the creative team selected Selma as one of the site for one of the episodes because they were seeking a small town that was majority African American to study what it’s like to be LGBTQ in that community.
“There are a lot of places in the South that are majority African American,” LoGreco said. “Selma is known even to people who are not living or from the South. It has historical recognition.”
The “WE’RE HERE” production team found people to talk to by searching social media to find individuals and organizations who identify as part of the LQBTQ community. LoGreco said they worked with Quentin Bell and The Knights & Orchids Society to meet local members of the Black, queer, transgender and gender non-conforming community. From there, producers talked to friends and friends of friends of those contacts until they found several Selma residents who had compelling stories to tell — and who were willing to tell them on national television.
While 95% of the show’s success depends on the participants, LoGreco said Selma’s “physical reality” was a plus for the look of the show. Some scenes show lovely older homes and Spanish moss. Others show closed storefronts and blight. LoGreco said the show films in many small towns, and shuttered stores and decaying houses are typical throughout the country. But Selma had more to offer.
“Selma is super visually interesting,” LoGreco said. “”There’s an energy. In some ways, Selma seems frozen in time, a time capsule. But it represents so many current issues.”
LoGreco said he is grateful for the participants and others who were “generous with their time.” Becky Youngblood with Arts Revive and A.C. Reeves helped the 70-person crew with logistics during their 12-day stay, he said.
“Of our 70 people, not a single one was not impacted by their time in Selma,” LoGreco said.
The Knights & Orchids is planning a virtual screening and fundraiser Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. for the Selma episode of “WE’RE HERE.”
Originally published at https://www.selmasun.com on October 27, 2021.