Charlize Theron Speaks Out Against "Incredibly Stupid" Anti-Drag, Anti-Trans Laws
Charlize Theron has joined a growing list of stars denouncing new anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ+ laws. The star made her views crystal clear during an appearance on the May 7 telethon "Drag Isn't Dangerous: A Digital Fundraiser," which was also attended by Idina Menzel, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Jesse Eisenberg, and Sarah Hyland.
"There are so many things that are hurting and, really, killing our kids — and we all know what I'm talking about right now — and it ain't no drag queen," Theron said. "Because if you've ever seen a drag queen lip-sync for her life, it only makes you happier, it only makes you love more, it makes you a better person."
In previous weeks, Hayley Kiyoko, Lizzo, Kevin Bacon, and Kyra Sedgwick have all also spoken out to support drag queens and the queer community in the wake of new anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ+ laws. At her Tennessee concert on April 21, Lizzo brought a group of drag queens on stage to perform with her and expressed her love and support for the LGBTQ+ community. And on April 23, Bacon and Sedgwick (who've been married since 1988) posted a video of themselves dancing to announce a new fundraiser they're doing for the ACLU's Drag Defense Fund.
Stars have steadily been raising their voices since a slate of legislation emerged in Tennessee and other states that targets trans youth, drag performers, and the LGBTQ+ community at large. On March 2, Tennessee became the first state to pass a ban on public drag shows, and at the same time Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that banned gender-affirming healthcare for youth in the state. A Feb. 5 report from NPR says that at least eight other states are trying to pass similar anti-drag laws. Many believe the Tennessee anti-drag law, which bans "male or female impersonators," is designed to punish all trans people in the state. And other anti-trans legislation continues to make its way through state governments around the country. For example, Arkansas is working on a new bill that would ban trans people from public bathrooms (per PBS), the Missouri attorney general issued an order in April that severely restricts the ability of trans people of all ages to seek care (per the New York Times), and both Indiana and Idaho have banned trans children from receiving gender-affirming care (per Vox).
In this climate, many LGBTQ+ celebs and their allies have been using their platforms to highlight the importance of protecting trans people. On March 20, Maren Morris, Hayley Williams, Sheryl Crow, Brittany Howard, and Hozier were some of the famous faces at Nashville's "Love Rising" benefit, an event designed to protest the slate of new legislation in Tennessee that targets trans youth, drag performers, and the LGBTQ+ community at large. Pedro Pascal, Gabrielle Union, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kelsea Ballerini, and LeBron James have also spoken out in support of trans rights in the wake of legal attacks against transgender people across the country. Ahead, these are celebrities who are publicly supporting trans people and drag performers across the country.
Theron called recent anti-drag and anti-trans laws "incredibly stupid" during an appearance on May 7's "Drag Isn't Dangerous" telethon.
"We love you queens!" she said. "We're in your corner and we've got you, and I will f*ck anybody up who's trying to f*ck with anything with you guys."
She also encouraged viewers to "please support all the great organizations that are out there helping all of this nonsense go away like it should," and added, "All of these incredibly stupid policies. Bye! No more room for hate, only love, and love equals drag queens!"
Marcia Gay Harden
During her May 7 appearance on the telethon "Drag Isn't Dangerous: A Digital Fundraiser," Harden shared that her dedication to supporting LGBTQ+ rights is personal. The 63-year-old actor said that her three kids, 24-year-old Eulala, 19-year-old Julitta, and 19-year-old Hudson, are all queer. "My eldest child is non-binary. My son is gay. My youngest is fluid. And you know, they are my kids and they teach me every day," she shared.
The fundraiser was dedicated to fighting anti-LGBTQ laws like Tennessee's drag ban, which Harden called "so fear-based," adding that the legislation is "spreading that kind of fear and hatred among other people. I believe this country will fight that," she continued. She commemorated her appearance on Instagram, and in the caption, she wrote, "The only thing dangerous about drag is how hot these Queens are! Join the @dragisntdangerous fundraiser in support of LGTBQ+, which basically means in support of all of us! Our nation, our neighbors, our children, artists, our singers, our dancers, our better leaders, ceo's, writers, spiritual leaders, basically our humanity. Gay is here to stay. Drag is here to stay."
In a May 2 Instagram video, Kiyoko said that ahead of her Nashville show, law enforcement warned her against bringing drag queens on stage, allegedly saying legal action could ensue.
"I never want to put anyone in a position to be at risk or in danger in any way. But also where is the line of being silenced? How do we navigate these absurd threats and laws against our community?" Kiyoko wrote in the video's caption. "I find pride in making sure my concerts are safe places for ALL. How can I do that if we aren't allowed to be ourselves, especially at a predominantly queer concert? We deserve to have a safe space to be ourselves while we navigate the evil that is threatening our own existence."
Fortunately, the drag queens wound up joining her anyway. "When the queens arrived it was about 10 minutes before the show. I was distraught and let them know what was communicated to us and our concerns," she said. "They showed no fear and said they wanted to continue with the show and come out on stage. So they did . . . We will not be silenced. We will find ways to continue to be our authentic selves, no matter what. We will not give up."
On April 21, Lizzo performed in Knoxville, TN, and she invited some drag queens — including some "RuPaul's Drag Race" alums — to take the stage with her. "In light of recent and tragic events and current events, I was told by people on the internet, 'Cancel your shows in Tennessee, Don't go to Tennessee,'" she told the crowd in a video she posted on Twitter. Their reason was valid, she said, but she'd rather celebrate drag right in Tennessee. "Why would I not create a safe space in Tennessee where we can celebrate drag entertainers and celebrate our differences?" she explained.
"What people in Tennessee are doing is giving hope," Lizzo said, "so thank you so much for standing up for your rights, protecting each other and holding the people accountable who should be protecting us."
On Instagram, Lizzo wrote, "Thank you to these beautiful drag queens for showing their pride in Tennessee" alongside a clip from the performance.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
Bacon and Sedgwick shared a video on Twitter of them both doing the choreography to Taylor Swift's song "Karma" while wearing matching shirts. It turns out the shirts are a fundraiser Bacon is doing to support the ACLU's Drag Defense Fund. He wrote in the tweet, "#DragBans are bad karma. Right now, drag performers and the LGBTQIA+ community need our help. Shop the @SixDegreesofKB campaign supporting the @ACLU Drag Defense Fund or make a gift." Sedgwick also reposted the video on her Instagram Story.
Country singer Kelsea Ballerini used her performance of her song "If You Go Down (I'm Goin' Down Too)" at the 2023 CMT Awards on April 2 to make a statement in support of drag queens. At the event, held in Austin, TX, Ballerini (who also co-hosted the awards) brought out drag queens to perform the song with her. On Instagram, she thanked the queens for "celebrating love, self expression, and performance."
At the "Love Rising" benefit concert on March 20, Morris opened up about taking her child backstage to meet some of the drag queens also performing at the event. "I brought my son here earlier today for soundcheck, and he's turning 3 this week, and we got to go in the room where all the queens were getting ready and doing their makeup," she said onstage, per Variety. "And he freaked out when he went in there because it's just magic what drag queens do. There's wigs everywhere, and the smell of hairspray and wig glue; there's glitter; everyone's in a good mood. It's just like a room of love. And we went back to my dressing room and my son is like, 'I need the queens!' I'm like, uh, you're looking at her?" she continued. ". . .Yes I introduced my son to some drag queens today. So Tennessee, f*cking arrest me."
Williams also performed at the March "Love Rising" benefit, and voiced her support for trans and gender-nonconforming folks while also expressing her disappointment in the state of Tennessee.
"I imagine if you're a drag performer in this town — skilled, talented, creative, amazing — I can't help but think that all of them wake up some mornings and are like, 'Why the fuck did I shave my legs for this?' You know? So here's a Deana Carter song," she said in the preamble to a cover of Deana Carter's "Did I Shave My Legs For This?"
She also opened up about her complicated relationship to her home state and her love for Nashville. "When I moved here to Tennessee, it was 10 days before I turned 13," she said, per Variety. "My mom and I fled a pretty traumatic situation in my hometown in Mississippi, and Tennessee and Franklin in 2001 were a refuge for us. It genuinely saved my mom's life. It changed the course of my life," she said. ". . .I have plenty to say about Nashville right now that might not be so positive. But to start, I wanted to play this song. There are good people here that are trying to continue to make this a good place to live. You are them. . .I don't want to be a preacher, but I wanted to say first off that the creative community, the artists, the people that I've met here, many of who are part of the LGBTQ community, have changed my life and made me a better person."
She later went on to address Tennessee's new anti-drag legislation. "What they're doing with this anti-drag bill, and how really it actually is also just a distraction from all these other horrible things that they're trying to pass here, it feels like we're in a relationship with our city and our state that's all-give, no-get," she said.
Crow also graced the stage at the "Love Rising" event, where she performed her song "Every Day Is a Winding Road."
"This song is 30 years old, and it's strange how it just kind of rewrites its meaning all the time," she said. "Sometimes I do feel like a stranger in my own life, when I've got to explain to my little boys that some of us don't get to live like we want to live, because it just doesn't line up with somebody's political (agenda)."
She also shared that her song "Hard to Make a Stand" was inspired by a trans person who she knew from a coffee shop. "She was very friendly — she would hand out flowers, but everyone was afraid of her. This was an unusual thing to see 30 years ago, and the patrons complained. And so I came in one morning and I said, where's that lovely woman? She actually reminded me of my grandmother. And the owner said, 'The patrons complained, and so we asked her to maybe not frequent us quite so often.' And the next morning she slipped a note under the door that said, 'If I'm not here, you're not here,' and signed it, 'Miss Creation'" — as reflected in the sometimes obscure verses of the classic tune," she continued. "And so I wrote a song about her. And this was during the same week that a young woman went to an abortion clinic in Texas and they shot her outside the abortion clinic. Now, this is 30 years ago, and these are the very things that we are still talking about. We've come a hell of a long way, and I'm happy about that. And we're addressing people living their truths and how one person's freedom is not compromised if we are all living our truth."
One of the biggest performers at the "Love Rising" benefit was Hozier. "As you know, I don't hail from here in Tennessee, I'm from Ireland," he said. "But the (Irish) revolutionary James Connolly once said that no revolutionary movement is complete without its political expression. And I feel just for me, there's so many elements of queer culture that are at times no less than revolutionary. In a time of political repression and suppression and artificially generated fear-mongering and scapegoating, I feel that just telling the truth of who you are and being who you are and standing up for that and expressing that is a very revolutionary act and a necessary act."
LeBron James retweeted a viral video of Jon Stewart interviewing Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm about restrictions on drag shows. "Are you infringing on that [drag] performer's free speech?" Stewart asked in the clip.
"They can continue to exercise their free speech," Dahm replied. "Just not in front of a child. . . . Because the government does have a responsibility… in certain instances, to protect children."
"What's the leading cause of death amongst children in this country?" Stewart asked. "I'm going to give you a hint: It's not drag show readings to children."
James wrote alongside it, "AT ITS HIGHEST ORDER!!" with an emoji saluting Stewart. Laverne Cox shared the same video on her Instagram as well.
On March 5, Pascal posted photos of LGBTQ+ flags, including the trans pride flag. He wrote in the caption, "The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind. #LGBTQIA."
His "The Last of Us" costar Bella Ramsey, who is genderfluid, commented on the photo with a row of hearts and trans and pride flags. Pascal's "Game of Thrones" costar Sophie Turner also commented with hearts.
On his Instagram Story, the actor shared the viral clip of Jon Stewart questioning the banning of drag shows, and on March 6 he also posted an infographic about legal attacks against trans people.
Pascal has long been vocal about supporting LGBTQ+ rights. His younger sister Lux Pascal is trans.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis wrote on Instagram on March 5, "I STAND WITH THE TRANS COMMUNITY. THE MISSINFORMATION CAMPAIGN MUST BE STOPPED!" She continued, "It is absolutely F*CKED witnessing the ongoing normalization of eliminationist transphobia. The right's war on queer people, most specifically trans people, is both bizarre and abhorrent. There is no debate to argue here. Trans people have been here forever and aren't going anywhere. There is no ideology here. It's simple. Trans rights are human rights. Anything stating the contrary is wrong." Curtis also shared a screenshot of Pascal's post saying "Trans rights" on Twitter in 2020. Curtis's daughter Ruby Guest is trans.
On March 5, Ben Platt shared a graphic of the trans flag on his Instagram Story and wrote, "queer bros & sisters for trans rights!!! Jews for trans rights!!!!!! straight dudes for trans rights!!!!!! cis women for trans rights!!!!! librarians for trans rights!!!!! baristas for trans rights!!!! ALL HUMANS FOR TRANS (human) RIGHTS!!!!!"
Gabrielle Union and her husband Dwyane Wade have been very vocal about LGBTQ+ rights, in part because of their daughter Zaya, who is trans. Union spoke to Variety on March 4 at the Independent Spirit Awards.
"There is an army that rebukes you, that does not agree with you and that will not lie down while this fascist rule is instituted," she said about the law in Tennessee. "And that's just one state. There are several states who were doing the same thing, and they will be met with resistance. People are not going to take this lying down. They're just not. So if you thought this was going to be a cakewalk, you're in for a rude awakening."
Beanie Feldstein shared an infographic from Protect Trans Health TN with action items for people from out of state to take to align themselves with trans people in the state.
On March 6, McCarthy shared an Instagram graphic with photos of stars in drag, including Robin Williams as "Mrs. Doubtfire." "You've been entertained by drag your whole life," read the text at the center of the graphic. "Don't act like it's a problem now."