Kelsea Ballerini brings drag queens on stage for 2023 CMT Awards

During her performance at the 2023 CMT Music Awards, Kelsea Ballerini showed her ally ship to the LGBTQ+ community by including RuPaul’s Drag Race queens in her set. 

The 29 year-old country singer sang “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” and brought out Drag Race queens Manila Luzon, Kennedy Davenport, Jan, and Olivia Lux to join her on the stage. 

The inclusive performance comes amid a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills making the rounds across multiple states. Ballerini is the latest of many celebrities to stand in solidarity with the drag community.



Similar to Tennessee, Texas, the state that hosted this year’s CMT Awards, is considering a drag ban. If the bill passes, anyone can sue anyone who hosts or performs drag in front of a minor.  However, The bill has since been blocked by a federal judge.

 The queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race spoke with ET and shared just how important bringing awareness to the cause is to the community.

“Just like all these amazing country music artists, we drag queens are also artists. And we deserve a space to be ourselves, express ourselves, and create something wonderful for everyone to enjoy,” Manila Luzon said.

Meanwhile, Jan Sport said, “Any opportunity for us to share our gifts with the world is a blessing. So, it’s more of us having a message to bless other people. It’s not bad. It’s all good. It’s all love. It’s all total liberation – that’s what the arts are all about.”

The country artist also paid tribute to the three students and three staff members who died in last weeks school shooting in Nashville.

"On March 27, 2023, three 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, along with Dr. Katherine Koonce, Cynthia Peak, and Mike Hill, walked into the Covenant School and didn't walk out," Ballerini said. "The community of sorrow over this and the 130 mass shootings in the US this year alone stretches from coast to coast."


Ballerini took time in her speech to share her experience as a witness to a school shooting nearly 15 years ago.

"I wanted to personally stand up here and share this moment because on Aug. 21, 2008, I watched Ryan McDonald, my 15-year-old classmate at Central High School, lose his life to a gun in our cafeteria," Ballerini said. "Tonight's broadcast is dedicated to the ever-growing list of families, friends, survivors, witnesses, and responders, whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence," she said.

"I pray deeply that the closeness and the community we feel through the next few hours of music can soon turn into action, like real action that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones."

Watch Kelsea Ballerini’s full performance, here. 


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