Drag Superstar Shangela is making us proud! She and her pro dance partner Gleb Savchenko advanced into the finals of “Dancing with the Stars,” after a dramatic and emotional semi-finals competition, making them 1 of 4 couples who will compete for the coveted mirrorball trophy on Monday, November 21st.
The evening began with six couples, with a looming double elimination ahead for the second week in a row. Actor Trevor Donovan and his pro dance partner Emma Slater were the first couple eliminated. In the end, the final spot in the top 4 for the finale came down to Shangela and Gleb Savchenko or “Coda” star Daniel Durant and his pro dance partner Britt Stewart. Judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli all voted to save Shangela and Gleb, thus sending them into the big finale next week!
GLAAD has been working to amplify Shangela’s participation in the competition, as this is the first time two men have competed together in the US version of the show, but also because of the recent drag performer protests, specifically against drag queen story hours that have been popping up all over the country. GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos spoke with Shangela and Gleb in the ballroom moments after they learned they were heading to next week’s finale, and the drag superstar was still very emotional over the moment.
“I felt like I had been in this moment before on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” when its people voting for you…I was crying because we worked so hard and I knew how many people were rooting for this moment, honestly I was just overcome…”
Shangela’s partner Gleb, who has been in the finals twice before, said this specific time it felt really meaningful. “It is so special because we worked so hard every week, and it’s been 9 weeks and…we just created that awesome friendship. We’ve worked together as a team, as one,” he said.
Shangela and Gleb performed two routines, one to “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga and the other to “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. During the episode, Lady Gaga shared her support on Instagram and encouraged her followers to vote. GLAAD spoke with Shangela about what it meant to get honored by her friend in the semi-finals, and after making it into the finale, she was still feeling major gratitude.
“Lady Gaga is a person who leads with kindness and heart, and she has inspired that in me and inspired it in so many millions of people in the world. The fact that she would take a moment…to show her love for me, I will always remember that,” Shangela said of her “A Star is Born” co-star.
Since the very first episode, Shangela told GLAAD that she dreamed of making it all the way, but since then, she said that she didn’t realize how grueling the competition actually was.
“When I started this competition, I wanted to be in the finals, but throughout the competition it has been rough. It’s a lot on your body, it’s a lot to learn…in rehearsals today I was like ‘I don’t know if I am going to deliver and I don’t want to let Gleb down’, and I feel all of the people watching at home,” she said.
Savchenko also shared the sentiment about this season being more competitive than usual.
“This season is also special because normally we have 12 couples, this season we had 16 and we had two double eliminations,” he said.
As Shangela gets ready to head into the big “Dancing with the Stars” finale, she is feeling the immense impact of being both the first drag performer to compete on the series and to be the first man to dance with another man in the competition.
“The visibility is so important and I hope that me being in this ballroom and making it to the finale shows any person out there who has ever struggled with identity or people who have embraced themselves, but are not embraced by others…Baby, you belong! You have value and if you just continue to show up as who you are, as all of the parts of who you are, proudly, then there will be a moment for you.”
The finale of “Dancing with the Stars” airs Monday, November 21 at 8pm ET on Disney+.