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Lizzo latest artist to shun Tennessee’s anti-drag law

The Grammy-award-winning singer follows in the footsteps of Madonna, Hayley Williams, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris and Hozier

By Lisa Henderson on 24 Apr 2023

Lizzo and the drag queens after Friday night's concert

Lizzo and the drag queens after Friday night's concert

image © Instagram/lizzobeeating

Lizzo is the latest artist to rebuke legislation designed to restrict drag performances in public, pending in the US state of Tennessee (TN).

The Grammy-award-winning singer invited 20 drag queens onstage during her concert at the Thompson-Boling arena in Knoxville (TN) on Friday (21 April) night.

Among the queens present were RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Aquaria, Kandy Muse, Asia O’Hara and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo.

In February, the Republican governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, signed the legislation against “adult cabaret” in public or in front of minors.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the law in late March, saying it was too vaguely written. Civil rights groups have criticised the law as a violation of free speech.

The Tennessee law is part of a wider Republican effort to restrict drag shows and other LGBTQ+ public gatherings.

“In light of recent and tragic events and current events, I was told by people on the internet, ‘Cancel your shows in Tennessee,’ ‘Don’t go to Tennessee,’” Lizzo said during the Friday concert.

“The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane”

“Their reason was valid, but why would I not come to the people who need to hear this message the most? Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences?”

Lizzo’s protest comes soon after Madonna added a Nashville (TN) stop to her upcoming greatest hits tour in protest of the state’s anti-LGBT+ bills, which include a ban on transition-related care for minors.

Madonna: The Celebration Tour, which is supported by RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Drag Queen, will visit Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on 22 December. A portion of proceeds from the show will go to trans rights organisations.

“The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane, it’s creating an unsafe environment; it makes America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of colour,” said Madonna in a statement.

“Also, these so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to fuck with a drag queen. Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community.”

Prior to that, Nashville-based artists came together for a benefit concert to raise awareness and funds for the LGBTQ community, in the wake of the Tennessee legislation.

Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Brothers Osborne, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Yola, Brittany Howard, Hozier, Adeem the Artist, Julien Baker, Joy Oladokun, Jake Wesley Rogers and Mya Byrne performed at the Bridgestone Arena for the Love Rising fundraiser.


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