Maren Morris is bridging the gap between country music tradition and progressive politics.
The singer-songwriter appeared on stage to push back against Tennessee's newly signed anti-drag and anti-trans legislation, standing in solidarity with other celebrities earlier this week at Nashville's Love Rising event benefiting the Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, Out Memphis, and the Tennessee Pride Chamber.
"Yes, I introduced my son to some drag queens today," Morris said at the city's Bridgestone Arena. "So, Tennessee, f---ing arrest me."
"Coming from country music and its relationship with LGBTQ+ members, I just want to say I'm sorry," Morris told the cast. "I love you guys for making me feel like a brave voice in country music. So I just thank you guys so much for inspiring me."
Morris' words at Love Rising come weeks after Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, signed measures into law that prohibit adult-oriented performances, including those with "male and female impersonators," in the presence of children — regardless of the nature of the show, which means severely restricting Drag Story Hour readings intended for families fostering acceptance among their children.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images Maren Morris and Alexia Noelle Paris on stage at the Love Rising event
"Love rose up. Thank you, Nashville, the gorgeous Queens, and the LGBTQ+ community for showing up last night," Morris wrote on Instagram after the event, which was hosted by RuPaul's Drag Race alum Asia O'Hara and also featured an appearance by season 15 alum Aura Mayari, who lives in Tennessee. "A lot of healing happened and it won't be forgotten."
Aura also shared a video from the event on Twitter, praising those who showed up to support the cause, including Brittany Howard, Brothers Osborne, Hozier, Yola, and Sheryl Crow, among others.
"Love Rising! Fight for LGBT rights. Successful fundraising concert!" Aura tweeted. "Thanks to everyone who partook in this and donated money."
Love Rising! Fight for LGBT rights. Successful fundraising concert! Thanks to everyone who partook in this and donated money. pic.twitter.com/vvvWJB42cc
— Aura Mayari 🌙 (@AuraMayari) March 21, 2023
EW previously reached out to Aura — as well as other Tennessee-centered Drag Race alums like Eureka and Jaidynn Diore Fierce — for comment immediately after the Tennessee senate voted to move legislation to Lee's desk in February.
"I am deeply upset and saddened to hear about the drag ban in Tennessee," Aura said in a statement. "The state [proposed] this bill to protect children from seeing anything explicit, when in fact, it is a mask used to hide the discrimination toward the LGBTQ+ community and the desire to erase drag. Public indecency is already illegal in Tennessee. This is yet another awful attempt at trying to take away our rights. People come to our shows to have a good time and to escape the cruel reality of life. Drag brings joy and inspiration to all audiences. Drag changes people's lives and that's what pushes me to continue fighting for our community."
Drag Race star Cynthia Lee Fontaine has also stood up to oppressive politics in recent weeks, with the season 8 Miss Congeniality winner speaking out at the All-In for Equality Advocacy Day rally in Austin.
RuPaul joined the resistance in a March 8 state-of-the-union address in which the Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race host labeled the political attacks as bullying.
"'Hey, look over there!' — a classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, health care, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school," Mama Ru said in the video, referencing Drag Race winner Jaida Essence Hall's iconic quote from the season 12 political debate challenge.
"We know that bullies are incompetent at solving real issues," Ru continued. "They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter, and our joy are signs of weakness, but they're wrong, because that is our strength. Drag queens are the marines of the queer movement. Don't get it twisted and don't be distracted. Register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government."
RuPaul and World of Wonder also partnered with the ACLU to establish the Drag Defense Fund to raise money for those affected by the political climate.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images Maren Morris at the Love Rising event in Nashville
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