WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) – It’s not often that towns in South Dakota get a national and even international spotlight. But just this past week, Watertown was featured on an HBO show bringing visibility to the town’s LGBTQ+ community.
Watertown had a unique experience this summer.
Three drag queens and their film crew showed up in July to feature Watertown on their HBO show called ‘We’re Here.’
“They brought this really neat vibrance to Watertown. You saw them all over and you could tell because they’d have walkie-talkies and they’d have masks on and stuff like that,” Amy Rambow, founder of Watertown Love, said.
“It wasn’t like, you know, these cast and crew who were too good for anybody, they paid attention. I mean, Shangela remembered every single person’s name the very first time hearing it,” Renee Hoover, board member of Watertown Love, said.
Local mom Amy Rambow was one of four people chosen to become a ‘drag daughter’ and perform on stage with one of the queens.
“I cannot explain to you what it was like, in words, to feel the love bouncing back and the more the love bounced back, the more it came out of me and it was just this building throughout the whole song,” Rambow said. “And you look out and you see people and they just were in tears and, you know, mouthing ‘I love you.”
“My child had already come out to me and one of their friends took their life,” Rambow said. “And I looked and thought, there’s no support in northeastern South Dakota. There’s no sort of organization or group. There had been one before but, you know, people get busy and life gets crazy and it wasn’t very active and I thought, ‘well, what can we do.”
This group has become a safe space for people to be themselves. People like April Mae Thrift, who left South Dakota for awhile because she didn’t feel like she could be herself as a lesbian. She’s a part of Watertown Love.
“I know on that sixteen hour drive back here, I was afraid to come back,” Thrift said. “But to be a part of this, I could’ve never imagined that I’d be making this big of an impact.”
The lights may have faded from the drag show now, but Watertown Love remains.
“If you need anything, reach out to us,” Rambow said. “We’re here whether it’s, you need a hug, you need a conversation, you need something more. We’re here. That’s the biggest takeaway is that there are people out there that love you, that see you and know that you are valid no matter how you identify as a human being.”
“It’s showing the community that there is that presence of the LGBTQ+ community right here and they’re not just silenced all the time because now they have an outlet,” Hoover said. “What’s our theme that goes on the banners is, you know, ‘be careful who you hate, it might be someone you love.”
“You are not alone. We will be your chosen family,” Thrift said.
Watertown’s episode of ‘We’re Here’ is now streaming on HBO Max.