In a concert on Friday night, April 21, in Knoxville, Tennessee, pop icon Lizzo invited a star-studded lineup of drag performers to join her on stage to protest the state’s recent anti-drag legislation.
In the past months, Republican legislatures across the US have started to target the drag and trans communities with hateful rhetoric and harmful legislation. One major example was a bill passed in February by Tennessee’s lawmakers restricting drag performances in public and banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors.
The law attracted international outrage and was criticised by many civil rights groups. After a lawsuit was brought against the legislation by LGBTQ+ theatre company Friends of George’s, a federal judge temporarily blocked it until May 26, stating that it was too vaguely written.
To protest the harmful legislation, Lizzo teamed up with 20 performers from the Drag Race franchise and the Tennessee drag scene, inviting them to join her on stage for an electric performance of her hit song ‘Everybody’s Gay’.
Among the drag queens and kings invited to the show were Vanessa Vanji Mateo, Asia O’Hara, Aquaria, Kandy Muse, Britney Banks, Chelle The Bombshell, Cordelia Facade, Cya Inhale, Dee Zastris Banks, Jaidynn Fierce, Justine Van de Blair, Shelby Lá Banks, Shoshana Van de Blair, Trey Alize, Vidalia Anne Gentry, Vivica Steele, and ZXA.
The pop icon also delivered a powerful message to her fans, saying: “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’.
“Their reason was valid, but why would I not come to the people who need to hear this message the most? The people who need to feel this release the most?” she asked. “Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences and celebrate fat Black women?”
She then thanked the crowd for “standing up for your rights, protecting each other and holding the people accountable who should be protecting us”. After she posted videos of the performance on social media, messages of praise poured in from fans thanking the singer for her allyship and for “giving space and support” to the queer community.
“I was there and I can’t tell you how special it was to share that space with you,” a fan wrote. “I hope you know that there are so many good, kind people in Tennessee who hate what we have to deal with every day from our legislators.”
Another supporter shared, “Thank you, Lizzo. As a transgender Tennessean, shit has been scary lately. Your support means everything to me. People like you giving a fuck are the only thing that keeps me going when shit gets too heavy to bear. Thank you. Ily.”
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