Country Music Goes Drag: It Was Just a Matter of Time
Country music legend Randy Travis once covered an older number called “It’s Just a Matter of Time.” In his signature twang, Travis belts out a classic song of lament in which the singer is pining for a lost love — someone whom the singer seems to think will return in due course. It’s most certainly wishful thinking. That woman ain’t coming back, because of course, it’s country music. Travis’ version of the song went on to number one on the Billboard chart in 1989, but by today’s emerging standards of country music, it might not break the top 100.
Nearly every entertainment venue has its own self-congratulatory awards shows, and country music is no exception. Viewers presumably wait with bated breath to be told which songs and singers are the best. As they’re waiting, the management provides a few acts to entertain. And like I do every year, I forgot to watch the 2023 edition of the Country Music Television (CMT) Awards, but apparently it caused quite a stir.
One of the CMT co-hosts this year, singer Kelsea Ballerini, opened the program by dedicating the show:
“Tonight’s broadcast is dedicated to the ever-growing list of families, survivors, witnesses, and responders whose lives continue to forever be changed by gun violence. I pray deeply that the closeness and the community that we feel through the next few hours of music can soon turn into action — like real action — that moves us forward together to create change for the safety of our kids and our loved ones.”
So far, so good. How, you ask, might these hours of music turn into “real action?” If in previous years, the CMT show may have seemed to drag on and on, this year the CMTs got its drag on.
Less than a week after the murderous spree by a trans-identifying killer at a Christian school in Nashville, someone at the CMTs thought what the world needed was yet another drag performance. When it was time for Ballerini to perform her song “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Too),” she was joined onstage by an entourage of men arrayed in pastel women’s dresses. Apparently characters from the “Drag Race” TV show, these guys looked as if they’d just come from your local library’s story hour. As the song concluded, the entire area burst into the colors of the rainbow. No subtle signaling there.
Now country music has an extremely broad listener base. According to the Country Music Association, 51% of U.S. adults listen to country music, so I’m under no illusions that a uniform audience exists. I’m not at all shocked that country music, like your local public library, would push a drag queen act. After all, this follows Budweiser issuing a special beer can celebrating a man who dresses like a woman. But one of these things is not like the other. What this whole episode reveals is that there are absolutely no boundaries for this movement. Not even the proximity of the Nashville massacre can stop it. The revolution will advance until everything is dressed in ostentatious women’s clothing. As the prophet Randy Travis warned us, it’s just a matter of time.
For Christians, the danger in this kind of cultural totalitarianism lies not so much in country drag queens, but in letting the tide flow within the gates of our lives. Jude warned the early church about such breaches in the walls:
“…I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4, ESV)
The ill-timed CMT drag show misread the room and made a spectacle of it its own spectacle. But it won’t be the last push of this revolution. It’s just a matter of time. And wishful thinking won’t make this cultural totalitarianism go away. We cannot let it creep in unnoticed.
We must contend for the faith by countering with our own totalitarian view of the world — a world flanked not by drag queens, but by a king who was dressed in a purple robe by his executioners and given a crown of thorns in mockery. In the end, Christ the king will reign supreme, and only those clothed in his righteousness will know him. When we move toward Christ, real action for change will happen. It’s just a matter of time.
Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.