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Straight Male Rock Musicians Are Wearing Dresses And Wigs To Protest Anti-Drag Bills—And Fans Are Cheering

Several acts, including Vandoliers, Guster and Yo La Tengo have all recently dressed up to protest conservative bans targeting drag queens and LGBTQ+ people.

Instagram screenshot of Cory Graves of the Vandoliers in drag; Twitter screenshot of Brian Rosenworcel of Guster in drag
@Vandoliers/Instagram; @Bowl_of_Worcel/Twitter

Straight male rockers are wearing dresses and wigs to protest draconian legislation targeting drag bans and LGBTQ+ people, much to the delight of their legions of fans.

Vandoliers, a six-member country-punk band, learned about a new Tennessee bill in February that criminalized public drag shows as "harmful to minors" while on tour. The band's multi-instrumentalist, Cory Graves, said he immediately knew what they needed to do before their show at the Shed Smokehouse & Juke Joint in Maryville, Tennessee.

So, they went shopping for dresses.

Graves said:

“We had just seen that the law was maybe going to be signed around the time that we were going to be in Tennessee. I was looking at our calendar and I was like, ‘Oh, s**t, we're going to be in Tennessee in two days."
"I'm going to get a dress and do this, because I believe in it.’ It's like a middle finger, and just a show of support to a class of people that's getting s**t on for no reason." ...
"And so, we all went to some vintage stores and had the shop ladies help us find dresses. They were trying to show us what would look good on our broad-shouldered bodies or whatever.”

The band posted about their efforts to their official Instagram account—and its members are even auctioning off their dresses.

According to Graves, cross-dressing as a form of protest is not frequently seen in country music. Therefore, it was crucial for them to not only support the queer community but also to support queer country musicians. This is because the genre does not embrace them "as much as it should."

After the Vandoliers' drag protest, other male rock bands who identify as straight and cisgender have also staged their own drag performances as a form of protest.

In one instance, the two male members of the indie-rock band Yo La Tengo, Ira Kaplan and James McNew, performed their encore in drag during a show in Nashville on March 13.

While they did not address the anti-drag law during their set, the band released a statement through their record label, Matador Records, stating that their performance spoke for itself and required "no further comment."

In reaction to a new Florida bill that claims drag shows pose a "serious danger to public health and safety" for children, pop-rock group Guster wore dresses during their encore at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Guster drummer Brian Rosenworcel later tweeted:

“Never played an encore in drag before but we did just that in Ponte Vedra FL tonight. Wouldn’t have thought to do it but all the attention from Florida politicians convinced us to try. Kinda liked it. Thanks for the idea Ron DeSantis!”

You can see his tweet below.

Many have praised the bands for speaking out and criticized Republicans for proposing such hateful legislation.

It is probable that other musical groups will participate in drag protests in the coming days since several states in the United States are currently proposing anti-LGBTQ+ bills.

Vandoliers’ home state of Texas is one such state, with Republican state Representative Steve Toth having recently filing a bill that defines “drag” as an act performed by someone who “exhibits a gender that is different from the performer’s gender recorded at birth … and sings, lip-syncs, dances, or otherwise performs in a lascivious manner before an audience.”

The bill also allows minors in attendance to sue the performer. It has been criticized by opponents, who refer to it as a “drag bounty hunter bill.”