Lizzo Slams Protestors at CA Festival Where She Was The First Black Woman to Headline

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via NBC

Lizzo made history Saturday after becoming the first Black woman to headline the BottleRock Napa Valley festival in California. But the momentous occasion was greeted with a less-than-friendly welcome from protestors who carried unwelcoming signs as she arrived at the event’s venue.

“I saw some signs that were very unfriendly towards people like me,” Lizzo said while on the Jam Cellars Stage. “I saw signs talking about how they want to cancel people like me. Silence people like me. Choke people like me. And they right across the street. So we gonna sing this one more time so they can hear it because maybe they haven’t heard it in a long time.”

The Truth Hurts singer would not reveal what exactly the signs said, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that some of the signs had the phrases “Choke the Woke” and “Cancel Cancel Culture” written on them.

As Lizzo is always known to do, she powered through to deliver a show-stopping performance. At one point during her set, she guaranteed fans that “this is a safe space” and even stopped her performance midway through for a meditation breathing exercise. At another point, she proudly draped the LGBTQIA+ flag around herself declaring, “Drag is not a crime!”

The news comes nearly one month after she clapped back at Tennessee lawmakers for a new bill they recently signed into law banning drag performances in the state.

During the second leg of the Truth Hurts star’s The Special 2our in Knoxville in April, 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 canceled 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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