Yo La Tengo played in drag at their concert yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, in an apparent protest of the state’s restrictive new drag law, The Tennessean reports. After opening with their usual set, the band members returned in drag to play the rest of the show, with Ira Kaplan wearing “makeup, a red dress, and a long black wig,” according to The Tennessean. They made no comment on the law during the show, and said in a statement, “What we did last night couldn’t have been clearer, and requires no further comment.”
Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, signed the legislation last month, drawing condemnation from around the country. Though the bill does not outlaw drag shows, it limits where they can take place, and invites cynical interpretations by conservatives who would equate any drag show to obscenity, campaigners have said.
In a statement reported by The Tennessean, Stella Yarbrough, the legal director of ACLU’s Tennessee branch, said, “We are concerned that government officials could easily abuse this law to censor people based on their own subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate, chilling protected free speech and sending a message to LGBTQ Tennesseans that they are not welcome in our state.” Governor Lee signed the bill in the same swoop as he outlawed gender-affirming healthcare for transgender children, aligning the bill’s restrictions on “male and female impersonators” with a wider attack on queer rights.
Next Monday, several artists will protest the law with a benefit concert, Love Rising, at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. Brittany Howard, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell, Hayley Williams, and Julien Baker are among those on the bill. Proceeds will benefit Tennessee Equality Project, Inclusion Tennessee, OUTMemphis, and the Tennessee Pride Chamber in partnership with Looking Out Foundation, which is also accepting donations. The Tennessee Equality Project encourages Tennessee residents to register to vote.