It was an emotional and highly entertaining night at the “Dancing with the Stars” finale for drag superstar Shangela who not only felt the pressure to deliver a moment that was both entertaining and impactful alongside her pro dance partner Gleb Savchenko, but she also felt the sadness from the tragic November 20th shooting at LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After her first performance of the night, Shangela took the moment to address the recent tragedy and speak directly to those affected.
“The emotions have been heavy, there is a lot going on in our world, in our country. There was a mass shooting, a horrible tragedy that happened in Colorado Springs. An attack on the LGBTQ community cannot be supported. This moment right here is about sharing more love and less hate. Hopefully we can start celebrating each other’s differences and not be divided. My heart and condolences go out to everyone whose lives were lost and were affected,” she said.
GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos spoke with Shangela and Savchenko moments after the finale wrapped, and although they didn’t end up taking home the mirrorball trophy, the two feel very proud of what they did in the end, which included having important conversations about the LGBTQ community all season and culminated with Shangela giving her pro dance partner an all out fabulous drag makeover.
“We wanted to deliver ‘a moment’ and I feel confident that we did that tonight. We pulled out all of the bells and whistles that are known in the drag world that are for entertainment and it was a gift to me to be here in this ballroom to have so many people behind us! I don’t want people to be sad in this moment, I want them to celebrate, because they will never forget Shangela and Natasha” she said after coming in 4th place.
Savchenko, who teased a possible drag makeover with Ramos in weeks leading into the finale, kept good on his promise and debuted his drag alter ego “Natasha,” in an epic freestyle routine to a mashup of Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” and RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother.” He says this season, competing as the first men to dance together on the series was especially meaningful.
“I want to thank Shangela for bringing me into her world and showing me that nothing is impossible. We’re trying to show the world that it’s all about love and unfortunately, we live in a really hard time right now,” he told Ramos after the finale.
In an emotional moment during training for the final freestyle routine, Shangela opened up about not being sure how her partner would initially react to being paired with a drag queen when the season began.
“I didn’t know how my partner was going to take it, but we had an immediate connection,” Shangela told her partner. Savchenko, who has been a pro dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” since 2015 said that working with Shangela was a career highlight on the series. “To me it was probably my favorite season, because I have never worked with someone so special, and so amazing, and it actually touched my heart,” he said.
After the finale Shangela told Ramos that she hopes the bond and acceptance that the two showed on “Dancing with the Stars” is a breakthrough for other people who might be less familiar with the LGBTQ community.
“I hope more people are inspired by Gleb’s openness to other people who are different than himself and the way he leads with love,” she said.
Shangela told Ramos that she felt empowered to speak out on the Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub tragedy during the finale and that she felt that her presence on the series was all that more necessary for moments like this.
“It was amazing to be able to be here to speak on what happened in Colorado Springs because if (I wasn’t) here it might not have been spoken about. That’s why a platform and a space like this is so important. I just want to applaud everyone who has pushed us, it gives me hope so that we don’t live in fear or think about hate in the world,” she said.
Next up, Shangela can be seen in an all-new season of the Emmy and GLAAD Media Award winning reality docuseries “We’re Here” on November 25th on HBO.
Watch Shangela’s Mother Talk with GLAAD at the “DWTS” Finale: