Country music star Luke Bryan defended his decision to invite Florida Governor Ron DeSantis onstage during a Friday show after the move resulted in backlash on social media.
Bryan invited the Republican governor to appear during his show in Jacksonville, Florida, as part an effort to help raise funds in the wake of Hurricane Ian that devastated parts of the state last month.
“We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to raise some money tonight for the great state of Florida,” Bryan said during the show before welcoming DeSantis. As the governor walked onstage, the audience greeted him with loud cheers, a video from the concert shared to Twitter shows.
DeSantis just walked out on stage at Luke Bryan. It’s deafening in here. pic.twitter.com/WHelgPCxM1— Bonnie Upright, APR (@bonnieupright) October 29, 2022
Following the governor’s appearance, the singer and American Idol judge received backlash.
“Luke Bryan probably has fans who have had an abortion, or have a family member who has. He probably has fans who are members of the LGBT+ community. Who are immigrants. Who are BIPOC. He clearly has 0 respect for any of them,” Twitter user Zevi L wrote in a post that was liked nearly 14,000 times.
Luke Bryan probably has fans who have had an abortion, or have a family member who has.— Zevi L (@MagicOn33rd) October 30, 2022
He probably has fans who are members of the LGBT+ community. Who are immigrants. Who are BIPOC.
He clearly has 0 respect for any of them. pic.twitter.com/PQnZdgcRRv
“Damn, Luke Bryan,” wrote user Callum Edwards. “I know I shouldn’t be shocked but as a lifelong fan I can’t help but be utterly disappointed. As a gay man, it truly hurts seeing him bring out – and effectively campaign for – the governor who introduced the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Heartbreaking.” The post received more than 30,000 likes.
Damn, Luke Bryan 😔— Callum Edwards (@CallumEdwardsUK) October 29, 2022
I know I shouldn’t be shocked but as a lifelong fan I can’t help but be utterly disappointed.
As a gay man, it truly hurts seeing him bring out – and effectively campaign for – the governor who introduced the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
DeSantis has received criticism for signing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law earlier this year. The policy prevents topics including sexual orientation and gender identity from being taught to the state’s youngest students. The law brought significant backlash from LGBTQ advocates, who said it is intended to silence the community. Supporters of the legislation, however, say young children should not be taught about topics of sexuality while in school.
In a statement posted online on Sunday, Bryan said he understands DeSantis is “a very polarizing figure.”
“But I grew up in a country where if a governor ask you if they can come and raise awareness to help victims of a natural disaster you help. I’ve generally stayed out of politics throughout my career. I knew people would chatter about this but for me the more important piece was If I am going to come back there a few weeks after a large portion of people have been affected by a natural disaster in a state where people have been good to me this felt right,” Bryan added.
Some defended him after he released his statement.
“So many people in FL needing help & relief & people try to throw stones & shade on a good man doing the right thing! I stand with @lukebryan,” tweeted television personality Michael Waddell.
So many people in FL needing help & relief & people try to throw stones & shade on a good man doing the right thing!— Michael Waddell (@BoogerBottom) October 30, 2022
I stand with @lukebryan
& remember the goal is to⬇️
Text: Disaster to 20222 to support https://t.co/Uq6FLm0Cj1
“The vicious, over-the-top comments that prompted this gracious message by @lukebryan show how the Left’s most consistent attitude is hate— an explosive hate toward anyone who isn’t on board with their radical agenda,” tweeted Steven Law, of the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC that supports GOP candidates.
Others continued to criticize the country star, however. “Just curious. What other governors have you had on stage after a disaster# a few days before mid terms…..@lukebryan? Also if you really wanted to help… donate the concert proceeds to the hurricane victims! Your statement is BS!” tweeted author Shane Jordan.