Thank You, Lizzo, For Standing With Queer Tennesseans

Lizzo at Knoxville Concert

As an openly gender non-conforming bisexual person raising a non-binary child in Tennessee, these past two months have been more than upsetting. Not only has recent anti-drag and anti-trans legislation left me wondering what may happen at events like Nashville Pride this year, but it has also made me worry about my child’s future. In a very conservative-leaning state, calls to representatives and protests against these types of laws usually go unheard. People like me often feel like we’re screaming into a void rather than standing up for our rights.

However, as I witnessed on Friday night, there are people in this world who are willing to stand alongside Tennesseeans as we try to fight against blatant discrimination.

I was very excited to be inside of Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena this past Friday night as Lizzo took the stage and serenaded a packed house. I was there alone, checking a bucket list item off for my partner, a fiery social worker who loved Lizzo’s messages of self-love and body positivity, who passed away suddenly in October. I’d seen Lizzo perform before (my partner and I saw her in Nashville back in 2019), so I knew she’d put on an incredible show.

However, I was not expecting what happened about halfway through her nearly two-hour performance.

As the music queued up for the song “Everybody’s Gay” from her latest album, the stage illuminated with rainbow-colored lights. Then, along with Lizzo’s “big grrrls,” a few drag queens took the stage. As the song continued, more drag queens, dressed in every color of the rainbow, surrounded Lizzo.

The audience exploded with excitement (myself included). It was incredible to see someone like Lizzo, who isn’t even from Tennessee, take such a strong stance against this egregious law.

Later in the show, Lizzo spoke to the audience and addressed her decision to come to Tennessee and stand up against the anti-drag legislation.

I’ll be honest: it gets exhausting just trying to fight for your right to exist in a world that continues to tell you day after day that every aspect of your identity is “wrong,” “evil,” and “immoral.” It’s sad to hear stories from people who work in acute psych saying the number of trans and gender non-conforming teens in the hospital has risen exponentially and will only get worse in states like ours as we continue to restrict their ability to simply be themselves.

I can’t say enough about what that moment meant to me as a queer person in the audience. It showed me that, despite what I’ve experienced lately in my state, there are still true LGBTQIA+ allies out in the world. I felt seen, validated, and understood. I didn’t feel alone in my fight to exist, but rather surrounded by love and support. And, not just by Lizzo, but by all of the people in the audience who were applauding the drag queens and Lizzo for simply being there on the stage.

So, Lizzo, although you may never read this, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for standing alongside people like me, my child, and our community here in Tennessee. Thank you for continuing to use your platform to build a safe space for others, teach lessons on acceptance, and embrace people’s differences. The world needs more Lizzo in it.

Feature image provided by the author.


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