Diné drag queen Lady Shug appears in HBO series 'We're Here'

Episode will air at 9 p.m. June 4 on HBO

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Lady Shug, left, and Bob the Drag Queen, center, are pictured in February when the HBO series "We're Here" filmed in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — While watching the season finale on June 4 of the HBO series "We're Here," viewers will have the chance to see local resident and drag queen Lady Shug.

"We're Here" centers on drag queens Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O'Hara and Shangela Laquifa Wadley visiting small towns in America, where they immerse themselves in the community while mentoring drag daughters for a performance.

Shug was seen in the May 16 episode that featured Farmington and Shiprock residents, including her friend, Nate, a photographer from Shiprock.

Production on episode six, which serves as the season finale, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than airing the storyline familiar to viewers, the show dives into the background of the three queens and features some never-before-seen performances and scenes with drag daughters.

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"We met so many people in these communities who are already making profound change, but one that really sticks out to me is Lady Shug. I don't know a word to describe her besides fierce," Bob the Drag Queen said in the episode.

Bob's words open the segment that features Shug and a performance she gave when the series filmed in February the drag show of Bob, Eureka and Shangela and their drag daughters.

Shug said in a telephone interview on June 2 that she was the only drag queen — aside from Bob, Eureka and Shangela and the drag daughters — to perform on camera.

She added that she was surprised the series producers knew about her.

They told Shug that several community members had spoken highly of her, and they had read about her advocacy work for the rights of Navajo LGBTQ and two-spirited people, and about her win in the Miss New Mexico Pride 2016 pageant.

Lady Shug performs during the Feb. 13 taping for the HBO series "We're Here" at the Lauter Haus Brewing Company in Farmington.

"I want to convey that I am proud and very comfortable as a nonbinary indigenous Diné drag queen or artist from the Four Corners area. I love this area. I mean, it has its ups and downs as far as some of the people that live here, but I am so happy that I can have this platform, and I am comfortable to say that," Shug said.

She added that she hopes her appearance on the program "will always hold a value to people that might not have a voice or might be afraid to be who they are."

In the May 16 episode, Shug supported Nate as he worked with Bob to perform his first drag performance.

"Me and Nate have a lot in common. We're both artists, we’re both from the same tribe and we just found out that we're related. We're both Red House — Kinlichii'nii," she said about her maternal clan.

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She added that she enjoyed watching Nate's confidence grow during filming and said Bob remains in contact.

"Bob tried to soak in everything — the knowledge, the terminology, our pain, our struggle. She honestly, 100% was listening to us the whole time," Shug said.

The episode airs on HBO on June 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

"We're Here" is available to stream on HBO GO, HBO NOW and on HBO via HBO Max and other partner platforms.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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