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

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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The LGBTIQ+ List 2022: Patrick Janssen, Live Nation GSA

The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) last month.

The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster. 

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with Patrick Erhardt, senior manager of content & creation at Goodlive in Germany.

The series continues with Patrick Janssen (he/him/his), marketing manager at Live Nation GSA (Germany, Switzerland, Austria).


Tell us about a personal triumph in your career
We promoted the first one-queen drag tour in the German market with Sasha Velour’s Smoke & Mirrors. That was a triumph for me. To combine my passion and job in live entertainment with my second passion, which is RuPaul’s Drag Race and drag culture in general. It was a great moment realising that I’m able to create visibility and establish queer artists like Sasha on big stages in Germany.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Shine in every way. Be unique. Be you. Trust in yourself and your abilities. Always go with your gut feeling. Everything happens for a reason, and don’t let anyone come for you, okay?

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
2009 when I thought I could promote a festival all by myself. I made it happen (somehow). But today, when I look back on what I’ve done and how I worked… well, there was room for improvement.

The stage was shit, the backstage was shit and I’m still embarrassed about what the bands might have thought about playing there. But I kept on improving and in 2012 I promoted the most successful edition of that festival in my hometown with the most visitors ever. So I learnt, that you should never stop learning and improve your abilities.

“Stop working with artists that are openly sexist, homo- and/or transphobic”

Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry
So, luckily, I haven’t had a real “challenge” that I have come across because of being queer and working in the industry, although I’m well aware that this is quite a privileged position as I’m still a white, cis-male man.

One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place
Stop working with artists that are openly sexist, homo- and/or transphobic. Artists like these shouldn’t get any kind of representation or support. Instead: support LGBTIQ+ artists and employees. As an employer, emphasise that you welcome members of the LGBTIQ+ community to work with them. Make them feel invited. It’s necessary!

A cause you support
I’m donating to trans people; buying their art (books/music) and helping trans/queer DIY artists with writing biographies or press releases.

The queer act you’re itching to see live this year
That’s definitely Trixie & Katya’s live tour in November. I’m dying to see two of my all-time favourite queens. I’ve been waiting years to see them somewhere in Europe, and now it’s my former employer promoting the tour.

Your favourite queer space
I don’t have a favourite queer space, but I really enjoy going to Pride because it’s that one time a year where I feel that we are a majority on the streets just for a little moment.


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