Lizzo protests Tennessee law by bringing drag queens on stage at her Knoxville show
Grammy-winning singer Lizzo protested a recent law restricting drag shows in Tennessee by bringing 20 drag queens out on stage during her Knoxville show on Friday. Among the queens present were RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Aquaria, Kandy Muse, Asia O’Hara and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo.
“Thank you to these beautiful drag queens for showing their pride in Tennesee,” the singer wrote in a video caption of the concert that she posted to Instagram.
“Thank you so much for the platform for me and the drag race girls and especially for uplifting the queens on Tennessee,” commented Aquaria.
“Those ladies are all so strong and brave and I know tonight was definitely the best of a tricky situation for everyone. Thanks for shedding light for our friends who definitely need our hand these days,” Aquaria added.
A Tennessee law banning “adult cabaret” in public or in front of minors was signed in February by Republican Gov. Bill Lee, but was blocked by a federal judge in April, just hours before it was set to go into effect. The judge sided with a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater company, who filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the proposed statute violated the First Amendment.
Lizzo also posted video of her seemingly addressing the Tennessee drag ban to the Knoxville crowd at the Thompson-Boling Arena and responding to those who had called for a boycott.
“In light of recent and tragic events, I was told by people on the internet, ‘Cancel your shows in Tennessee. Don’t go to Tennessee,'” Lizzo said. “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?”
“Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences?” Lizzo added, to overwhelming applause from her fans.
While Tennessee was the first state to pass a law restricting drag shows, there are other states looking to follow suit. Earlier this month, the Florida Senate approved a similar bill, S.B. 1438. It has been sent to Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.