March 2, 2024
Hayley Williams, Jason Isbell Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights

As Tennessee lawmakers attempt to push some members of the LGBTQ+ community out of the public sphere, Jason Isbell and Allison Russell organized Love Rising, a joyous fundraising event that offered support for those under attack. The March 21st concert hosted sets by Sheryl Crow, Brittany Howard, Julien Baker, Hozier, several members of country supergroup The Highwomen, and more, including  Hayley Williams with the live debut of “Inordinary” and a cover of Deana Carter’s “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”

The fundraiser benefited Tennessee Equality Project, inclusion tennessee, OUTMemphis, The Tennessee Pride Chamber, and The Looking Out Foundation, which offered to double any donations it received up to $100,000. Donations remain open and ongoing.

Love Rising came as a response to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signing a law on March 2nd that lumped “male and female impersonators” with “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, [and] strippers,” as a group banned from performing in the presence of minors. It will go into effect July 1st, and is the first bill in a new wave of red-state legislation that seeks to frame drag and transgender performers as sexual deviants who must be kept away from children.

Paramore leader Williams pushed back against the idea that Tennessee is incapable of tolerance. “There are good people here that are continuing to try and make this a good place to live,” she said, acknowledging the audience. “The people that I have met here, many of whom are part of the LGBTQ community, have changed my life [and] made me a better person. They have changed my family’s life. And I’m so grateful  to be a part of fighting for all of you and I hope that whatever small part I play can help.”

Joined by Becca Mancari, she then launched into the live debut of “Inordinary” from her second solo album, Flowers for Vases. Afterwards Williams said, “Bitch, we’re not done,” blasting Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor and the anti-drag bill, which she suggested was intended by malicious politicians as a “distraction from all the other horrible things they’re trying to pass.” She closed her set with a rollicking cover of “Did I Shave My Legs for This?”

Before his performance, Irish songwriter Hozier framed the evening as an act of revolution: “The Irish revolutionary James Connelly once said that ‘No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression.’ And I feel just for me, there are so many elements of queer culture that are no less than revolutionary,” Hozier said. “In a time of political repression and suppression and fear-mongering… just telling the truth of who you are, being who are, standing for that, and expressing that, is a very revolutionary act.” He performed “Nina Cried Power” with event organizer Russell followed by his international smash hit, “Take Me to Church.”

Several Nashville drag performers took the stage for “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen, led by Maren Morris and Amanda Shires, and joined by Isbell, Russell, Joy Oladokun, and more. “I want a house with a crowded table,” they sang, “And a place by the fire for everyone.” Check out clips from performances after the jump, and scroll onward for a photogallery of the event.

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