“If you go down, I’m going down too,” is the message Kelsea Ballerini sent to the LGBTQIA community this weekend.
On Sunday, April 2, Ballerini, along with Kane Brown, hosted the Country Music Television (CMT) Awards. Ballerini took this night to speak out for what she believes in, which is not very common to see in the country music community.
She opened the show with a tear-jerker of a speech about gun violence and the change that needs to occur when it comes to creating gun reform in our country. She dedicated the night of music to the six lives that were just lost during the Nashville shooting at The Covenant School, along with the “ever growing list of families, friends, survivors, wittnesses and responders who’s lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence.”
Ballerini tearfully recounted the shooting that she witnessed in her own high school where one of her 15-year-old classmates was killed in 2008. She too, is part of the long list of survivors and people affected by gun violence in the United States.
Her song choice for her performance during the show really reinforces how much she supports the LGBTQIA community. She sang the hit “IF YOU GO DOWN (I’M GOING DOWN TOO)” from her most recent album. This song is an anthem about supporting the people you care about, no matter what they go through, which is especially relevant to the drag ban situation in Tennessee.
As a Knoxville native, it makes sense for Ballerini to be infuriated about the ban. I did not expect her to invite drag queen royalty out on one of the biggest country music stages, but she did just that. She was joined by drag queens Olivia Lux, Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport and Manila Luzon who all starred on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
It is important to note that the CMT Awards took place in Austin, TX at the Moody Center, not in Tennessee, where the ban will go into affect in about three months.
Though this sensational performance was nothing but beautiful, uplifting and heartwarming, unfortunately the country music community is not as open-minded as it should be. Ballerini has been receiving a slew of nasty comments on one of her Instagram posts about the performance.
Conservatives have been shaming her for this, saying that it was terrible timing due to the gender orientation of the person who shot up The Covenant School being, in their minds, similar to the level of evil as drag queens. It makes absolutely no sense why these arguments are still being had in 2023. Most conservative Christians preach about their beliefs, but isn’t one of the biggest Christian values “love thy neighbor?” The hypocrisy in these situations is astounding, and while it is good that Ballerini used her quickly growing platform to protest Tennessee’s drag ban, it is infuriating that she is receiving unnecessary hate for standing up for what she believes in.
Thankfully, her comment section is not entirely negative. There seem to be many people just discovering Ballerini because of this performance vowing to support her and stream her music, even if they do not normally gravitate towards country music.
As a massive fan of her, I could not be any more proud of her decision to bring out drag queens for this performance. It is such a prevalent issue in our country for people in the LGBTQIA community to be silenced and oppressed when they find a form of art that allows them to express themselves. Drag is a source of joy for so many people, performers and audience members alike. It is time for our country to focus on the important issues, like gun reform, instead of focusing on such niche issues like banning drag shows.
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