Orville Peck Was ‘Scared’ to Bring Out Drag Queens During Recent Concerts in the South, but It Was ‘Extremely Important’

Orville Peck may be nervous about bringing drag queens onstage during his concerts in red states, but he refuses to let fear get in the way of fighting for LGBTQ rights. “We played Knoxville, and we did Memphis, and we played a few places in Tennessee and just the South in general. And I doubled down, and I had a drag queen come out in the middle of the show, and I would do a big speech,” Peck tells me.

“To me, drag is extremely important not just because a lot of my lovely dear friends do it,” he continues. “It’s a cornerstone of not just gay culture but gay civil rights. It is literally why I have the ability to be an openly gay man in country music. Was I scared? Yes, but I did it anyway because sometimes you just have to do something no matter what.”

Drag queens in Tennessee are facing legal blockades in the state with new laws banning them from performing in public locations or in front of minors.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, queer pop star Hayley Kiyoko asked two drag queens to join her on stage during a performance in Nashville. In April, country superstar Kelsea Ballerini showed her support of the drag community with her performance of “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” at the CMT Awards in Austin, Texas. She was joined on stage by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Jane Sport, Kennedy Davenport, Manila Luzon and Olivia Lux.

Lizzo did the same later that month when she brought a gaggle of drag queens out during a concert in Knoxville, Tenn. “Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences?” she told the 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.”

Meanwhile, “Drag Isn’t Dangerous,” a telethon to benefit efforts to combat anti-LGBTQ legislation, is taking place Sunday, May 7, and will stream live on moment.co/dangerous. Participants include Peck, Melissa McCarthy, Adam Lambert, Michelle Visage, Adam Shankman, Billy Eichner, Bridget Everett, Cheri Oteri, Elizabeth Banks, Idina Menzel, Jack Falahee, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Joey McIntyre, Lance Bass, Max Harwood and Sarah Hyland.

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