The “About Damn Time” singer told a crowd at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena that it was important for her to perform despite the anti-drag law that would make it “an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance” in public or in a place with a minor present, Deadline reported. The law has since been temporarily blocked by a federal judge in the state.
Some 469 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in the U.S. this year, according to a legislation tracker from the American Civil Liberties Union.
“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,’” 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 and celebrate fat Black women?”
She emphasized her commitment to performing at Friday’s show.
“I hope that I can help you in any way because you have helped me so, so much, you don’t even understand,” Lizzo said to the Knoxville crowd.
“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,” she continued.
Lizzo has celebrated drag performers in the past, serving twice as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and recording a music video to her song “Juice” along with a number of the show’s past participants.
On Friday, the singer invited several drag performers — including “Drag Race” stars — to join her on stage. Asia O’Hara, Kandy Muse, Vanessa Vanjie and Aquaria were among the performers, Deadline noted.