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Lizzo Protests Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Ban, Inviting Drag Queens Onstage After Compelling Statement

by Micaela Soler

If you thought your love for Lizzo couldn’t grow any more, just wait. Lizzo kicked off the second leg of her tour with a bold (and glittery) statement against Tennessee’s new anti-drag ban, and she isn’t afraid to bring pride to Tennessee in true Lizzo-fashion.

The Grammy Award-winning singer performed with over a dozen drag queens during her Knoxville performance on Friday. Among them are many drag performers who have competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, including Aquaria, Kandy Muse, Vanessa Vanjie and others, all of which Lizzo thanked in an Instagram post on Saturday.  

Prior to bringing out the performers, Lizzo made a powerful speech as to why this concert has an importance. “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,” said Lizzo to her crowd at the Thompson-Boling Arena, who immediately responded with boos. (To be fair, we would also be heartbroken if Lizzo canceled her show). 

“Their reason was valid, but why would I not come to the people who need to hear this message the most?,” responded Lizzo as the crowd once again began to cheer. “Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences?” She has posted the video of her addressing the Tennessee drag ban on her social media accounts with the caption, “Knoxville you have my heart. Thank you for creating a safe space with me.” 

The “About Damn Time” singer also shared a video of the high-spirited performance, where she led her invitees onto the center stage before they all lined up to form a rainbow with their color-specific, glamorous outfits. 

The Tennessee drag ban aims to restrict “adult cabaret entertainment,” on public property or in front of minors. The term was defined as “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, [and] male or female impersonators.” It threatened violators with a misdemeanor or a felony for repeated offenders. It was signed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee in March, but was temporarily blocked in April by a federal judge who ruled a lack of compelling evidence to implement the legislation. Civil rights groups have also criticized the bill, stating that it is a violation of free speech. 

Other states are following Tennessee’s footsteps. Earlier this month in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis received a similar bill (and is expected to sign it) after it was approved by the Florida Senate. 

“What people in Tennessee are doing is giving hope, so thank you so much for standing up for your rights, protecting each other, and holding the people accountable who should be protecting us,” said Lizzo to her Tennessee crowd. 

As we tumble through a repeat of homophobic history, Lizzo has made sure to tell us it’s bad b*tch o’clock. So play your fave Lizzo song, and watch an episode (or two…or three) of RuPaul’s Drag Race to support your favorite drag queens. 

Top photo: Screengrab via Lizzo on Instagram

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