On a normal night, the red carpet at the American Music Awards is a typical showcase for celebrity fashion and commercial promotions. But this year’s AMA’s took place less than twenty-four hours after the mass shooting at queer bar Club Q in Colorado Springs. Despite the suddenness of the horrific news, queer musicians wasted no time in paying tribute to the deceased and calling viewers to action on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.
In a series of interviews, Variety spoke to LGBTQ+ celebrities across the red carpet on the importance of community safe spaces like queer bars.
Kim Petras spoke from her own experience, describing how gay bars became a place of belonging for her. “I’m someone who has needed gay clubs since I was a child to feel like I belong anywhere and to hear the music that I wanted to hear and be around people the see me for who I am. That was my safe place as a trans girl, as a teenager, as someone who didn’t fit in,” she said. “The only place where I feel accepted and free is a gay club. Something needs to be done.”
Likewise, Melissa Etheridge recalled her first visit to a gay bar, Boston’s The Prelude in 1979. “It was frightening. But the second time I went in, I was like, ‘OK, my people. I’m home,’” she recalled.
“My love goes out to all my brothers and sisters in Colorado Springs,” she went on. “This problem we have in our society – the fear of others – is an epidemic and a disease. To say that people who are different are to be feared created this sort of event.”
Dove Cameron on the importance of queer representation: “Queer visibility is more important than ever…it’s in a permanent state of importance.” #AMAs2022 https://t.co/NG0g8hZ7C0 pic.twitter.com/WYPWINJZTV
— Variety (@Variety) November 20, 2022
Dove Cameron, meanwhile, explained that she had been taking a break from social media and heard the tragic news only hours prior. “It’s incredibly fucked up. It’s incredibly disheartening. It’s depressing,” she said. “If you’re in the public eye, even if you’re not queer, you need to be speaking up, you need say something because the public is susceptible to being swayed. There’s a lot going on right now that is anti-queer. We all need to be taking a stand and standing with our queer friends and doing the most that we can for our community.”
— Tomás Mier (@Tomas_Mier) November 21, 2022
Cameron modeled this herself in her acceptance speech for Best New Artist of the Year. “On the heels of the tragedy that happened in Club Q in Colorado Springs I want to remind everyone how important queer visibility is and how important community is.
“I want to remind you that you are made absolutely right and you are so loved and so held and I want to thank you for supporting me and thank you for holding this space, I’m holding it for you too.”