Midwest Princess

Here’s why Chappell Roan should keep performing in red states

Chappell Roan’s viral takedown of the White House is stirring up controversy, but not for the reason you might think.

During her performance at the Governors Ball Music Festival last weekend, Roan revealed that she turned down an offer to play at the White House for Pride. “We want liberty, justice and freedom for all,” Roan said (while fittingly dressed as the Statue of Liberty). “When you do that, that’s when I’ll come.”

Roan’s apparent objections to the Biden administration’s policies (she didn’t elaborate on what she specifically took issue with, but did mention the importance of trans rights, women’s rights, and “freedom for all oppressed people in occupied territories” earlier in her performance) read to some folks as hypocritical considering her upcoming tour schedule, which includes concerts in politically conservative states like North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

“Publicly announcing you’re saying no to the most pro LGBT president/admin in history to make a quick vague social media point re: Gaza?? Something else?? but consistently performing in states with actual active anti LGBT laws in place is a unique choice,” reads one (since deleted) viral post.

“She’s performing in the capital of North Carolina (the state that passed the original bathroom bill) tomorrow,” pointed out another. “But go off queen.”

Those critiques miss a few important points, though. First, performing in a state (even in its capital city) isn’t inherently an endorsement of that state’s policies, while literally performing at the White House certainly would read as support for the presidential administration.

Second, Roan is originally from Missouri and has branded herself as a “midwest princess.” She understands that there are queer folks all over America, even in conservative states, and they deserve to experience the queer joy of her concerts just as much as anyone. Queer folks aren’t “trapped” in those states, either — rather, many consider them their homes and want to stay and see them improve instead of abandoning them for places that are already more progressive.

Third, Biden’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights may be an important issue, but it’s not the only issue queer people (including Roan) are concerned about when it comes to America’s politics. Yes, queer rights are important — especially during Pride Month — but being pro-LGBTQ+ doesn’t absolve any politician from other conservative stances.

“She said freedom for ‘all’ and white gay people were like I already have rights what do you mean,” as quipped activist and influencer Matt Bernstein.

Long story short, Roan is well within her rights to stand her ground on politics and criticize the presidency. Performing for audiences in red states who have less access to queer art doesn’t make her a hypocrite — it makes her an advocate.

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