The CMT Music Awards ceremony on CBS took place on Sunday night at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas and the LGBTQ representation was very present.
RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Jan Sport, Olivia Lux, Kennedy Davenport, and Manila Luzon not only made an appearance at the ceremony, but also took the stage with Kelsea Ballerini for her charming performance of “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” — and it felt like a Drag Race maxi-challenge!
— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) April 3, 2023
Before the Drag Race alums performed with Ballerini, they spoke with Cody Alan on the red carpet about the drag bans happening across the country and how anyone can love country music. “We’re here celebrating the artistry of all these musicians, and we just want to represent that there is another art form of drag and it is just as fabulous and as much deserving to be celebrated,” said Manila Luzon.
In addition to the queens, the LGBTQ representation at the ceremony included country artist Lily Rose and her wife, Daira Eamon, Cody Alan and Trea Smith as well as Cody Belew.
“I just met her and that’s my new bestie,” said Megan Thee Stallion presented legend Shania Twain with the CMT Equal Play Award. “She’s been an outspoken ally against every hate of all kind… gender gaps, ageism, impacting inequalities against the LGBTQ+ community and more. She’s an inspiration to me and millions of others.”
Twain used her acceptance speech time to prove exactly why she deserves the award. “When I wrote the phrase ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman!’, I honestly I had no idea at the time that it would become an undercurrent of a decades long career,” she said to a cheering crowd. “It’s amazing how just one statement can empower so many. ‘Man! I Feel Like a Woman’ has been adopted by an “array of fantastic communities all around the world and become a genuine path of power and progress for women to eliminate country music. Which brings me so much joy.”
She continued, “I promise I will continue to champion the many outstanding country artists who are not currently played. They’re not streamed towards signs or awarded at the level they deserve. So, I believe in an all-inclusive country music which is a genre of music with a rich history that raised and nurtured my own songwriting and performance and recording career from childhoods. Currently, the industry standard does a real disservice to the country music industry, do our part to close the gap and provide an equal workspace for all talent.”
“As LGBTQ rights are being questioned in Texas, Tennessee, and several Southern states, Kelsea Ballerini took to one of country music’s biggest stages to display bold allyship by proudly featuring talented and beloved drag artists. Kelsea’s performance at the CMT Music Awards reinforced that drag is not a threat, it’s an art. New legislation that tries to silence drag performers in some Southern states is as unpopular as it is unnecessary. The CMT Music Awards also featured a performance from out singer Lily Rose, out red carpet host Cody Alan, and legendary ally Shania Twain called for country music to be “all inclusive” in her remarks. Country music stars are using their platforms to stand with the LGBTQ community and the industry is growing into an explicitly welcoming place for LGBTQ fans and talent. Other country music stars, concerts, and events should take note of CMT’s inclusion and follow suit.,” said Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Vice President of Communications & Talent.