Last month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed legislation banning “adult cabaret” artists from performing in public and/or in the presence of children. The controversial bill listed “male or female impersonators,” which is widely interpreted to mean drag queens.
In a show of defiance, Lizzo, known for her vociferous support of body-positivity and self-love, welcomed queens including Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Asia O’Hara and Kandy Muse from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to join her performance at the Thompson-Boling Arena on Friday.
Sharing a video of the moment with her 13.4 million Instagram followers, the rapper-singer-flutist, who is an outspoken ally of the LGBTQ+ community, thanked the “beautiful drag queens for showing their pride in Tennessee.”
The 34-year-old musician, best known for her empowering hits including “Truth Hurts” and “Juice” and her ubiquitous track “Good As Hell,” also addressed the bill in another video, telling the audience that she was warned against performing in Tennessee.
“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?” Lizzo told cheering fans.
“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?”
Last month, Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson told CNN that the bill was not meant to target drag performances or transgender people but “simply puts age restrictions in place to ensure that children are not present at sexually explicit performances.”
A federal judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked its implementation, stating that the ban may be unconstitutional.