Drag artist Shangela returns to Chicago to Turn Up the Love

Sun. March 26, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Shangela Laquifa Pierce entered AT&T's Flagship Store at 600 North Michigan Avenue like a hurricane in Chicago on March 25, 2023, wearing a stunning gown. This was a bonus stop on this force of nature's 11-city Fully Lit Tour and gave locals a taste of the main Live Nation-produced tour.

AT&T sponsored this appearance as part of its Turn Up the Love programming focused on the LGBTQ+ community. Shangela spent time with fans during an early meet and greet before storming the stage accompanied by backup dancers.

Storytime on the microphone captivated the crowd between songs and had the RuPaul Drag Racer spilling the tea on everything from a plane ride with singer Ciara to a special Oprah Winfrey moment. Video montages ranged from Dancing With the Stars to multiple celebrity homages mentioning the talented performer. Shangela joked that jumping the line at the Walmart in D.J. Pierce's hometown of Paris, Texas is the only real advantage of knowing celebrities and still has to be proven with a picture.

View more photos

Multiple costume changes and extensive dance numbers followed and were all part of the fun evening for the drag doll at the store location during the special private event.

Backstage in her dressing room, Shangela described Pride as having the “freedom to celebrate your own identity and the queer experience.”

She discussed her experience on the Emmy Award-winning HBO series We're Here, “I was very thrilled to find out that we were going to film an episode of We're Here in Florida. We didn't know it would be two episodes beforehand, but once we got there the stories were so impactful and had so many layers that it became hard to squeeze everything into one episode. There were just so many moments. Florida is a place that holds the nation's attention right now and rightfully so because it is a place where the queer existence is being challenged and even outlawed. On those two episodes at the end of season three, I worked with a trans person named Dempsey, a nine-year-old at the time, and her mother Jaime, who was teaching in a state with a 'Don't Say Gay' bill. Florida was a very heavy place to film in but it also felt like the most purposeful of all the cities we went to.”

Shangela suggested that supporters can fight in the current war on drag by “being vocal, knowing their voice matters and making sure it is heard by voting. They can also commit to supporting organizations that are doing the work. There's an ACLU Drag Defense Fund that many of the queens and I are uniting with to perform around the world to raise money. There are professionals who are trained and working to adequately fight, not only what is going on in Tennessee but also in places like Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

At a time where so many corporations are running from the drag community, AT&T jumped right in to sponsor this tour.”

When asked about plans for Pride month Shangela exclaimed, “I will be living out my best gay life! I have been performing at Pride festivals all across the world for years. For this particular Pride, I think we have to activate even more than ever. Pride was created out of protest and it is time to return to our roots, honey. We need to remember that it is not only great to have fun and celebrate who we are, but it is also important to galvanize and unite with our community. When I am out onstage it is not just about entertaining but carrying a message as well. The message is to stand together and move our community forward instead of moving it backward.”

Shangela headlines Miami Beach's Pride on April 16 to kick off the Pride festival season, halleloo!

Photos:  Shangela kicks off AT&T's Turn Up the Love Tour