Yo La Tengo performed in drag at their concert yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, in an apparent protest against the state’s new restrictive drag law. the tennessean reports (via Stereogum). After opening with their usual set, the band returned to play the remainder of the show, with Ira Kaplan wearing “makeup, a red dress and a long black wig,” according to the tennessean. They did not comment on the law during the show, saying in a statement: “What we did last night could not have been clearer and requires no further comment.”
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed the legislation last month, drawing nationwide condemnation. While the bill does not ban drag performances, it limits where they can take place and invites conservatives to make cynical interpretations that would equate any drag performance with obscenity, activists said.
In a statement reported by the tennesseanStella Yarbrough, legal director for the ACLU’s Tennessee chapter, said: “We are concerned that this law could be easily abused by government officials to censor people based on their own subjective views of what they deem appropriate, freezing protected free speech and sending a message to LGBTQ Tennessees that they are not welcome in our state.” Gov. Lee signed the bill in the same way he banned gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children, aligning the bill’s restrictions on “male and female impersonators” with a broader attack on queer rights.
Next Monday, several artists will protest against the law with a benefit concert, Love Rising, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Brittany Howard, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell, Hayley Williams, and Julien Baker are among those featured on the poster. Proceeds will benefit the Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, OUTMemphis, and the Tennessee Pride Chamber in association with the Looking Out Foundation, which is also accepting donations. The Tennessee Equality Project encourages Tennesseans to register to vote.