Lizzo ‘Drags’ Tennessee Lawmakers By Bringing Drag Performers Onstage Following Controversial Law Banning Drag Performances

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via NBC

Lizzo is clapping back at Tennessee legislators after a new bill they recently signed into law banned drag performances in the state.

During the second leg of the Truth Hurts star’s The Special 2our in Knoxville Friday, she welcomed a team of drag performers who have made a name for themselves, notably on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Among them included Aquaria, Asia O’Hara, Kandy Muse and Vanessa Vanjie.

“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,’” the Grammy award-winning artist said onstage at Thompson-Boling Arena. “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?”

She continued: “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.” 

The new legislation, dubbed the “Tennessee Drag Ban,” forbids “adult cabaret entertainment” on public property or locations where minors can see the performances — reiterating that “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators” were forbidden to perform publicly. Opponents of the law argue that should it take effect, it could possibly mean that other artistic forms of work, including Rent, Kinky Boots and Mrs. Doubtfire would have to be cancelled from being performed in theaters.

Gov. Bill Lee first signed the bill in March, but a federal judge vetoed its implementation, citing First Amendment issues. Tennessee is the first state to pass such a law. 

“Drag has never turned a child into a prostitute or anything negative — it just gave them a chance to express happiness,” Denise Sadler, a Nashville-based drag queen told NBC News after the legislation was passed into law. “If happiness is against the law, then what kind of world do we live in?”

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