Luke Bryan Security welcomes Ron DeSantis to the stage at Florida concert – The Hollywood Reporter

Luke Bryan has responded to the wave of criticism he’s received for warmly welcoming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to his stage Friday night.

Country star and American Idol the judge introduced DeSantis to a crowd of Jacksonville, Florida, at a stop on his Raised Up Right Tour. During footage of the concert, DeSantis is seen throwing away from the audience and appreciating Bryan, who patted him on the back.

“We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to raise some money tonight for the great state of Florida,” Bryan announced at the show.

DeSantis shared a pair of photos on Twitter of the two seemingly having a good time on stage together. He wrote, “Thanks for letting me break the party last night, @lukebryan!”

Bryan released a statement on Sunday defending his decision to have DeSantis join him at the show. He noted that “this feels right” as part of an effort to help raise awareness and money for those affected by Hurricane Ian in Florida. The singer postponed some of her Florida tour dates in September due to the storm.

“I don’t usually respond to things when I’m down on social platforms but here’s the deal. I understand Governor Desantis is a very polarizing figure,” Brian wrote on social media Sunday afternoon. “But I grew up in a country where if a governor asked you if they could come and raise awareness to help the victims of a natural disaster, you would.”

“I have not been involved in politics for most of my career,” says Bryan. “I know people will talk about this but for me it is more important if I go back there a few weeks after a large portion of the people were affected by the disaster in the condition that everyone treated me. good for me. this feels right. Raise awareness, have a little fun among GA and FL college fans before the game, and do what I love on stage. “

He closes the note by writing, “This is all I’m saying about this. I’ll be outdoors with my boys. Enjoy your Sunday. “

“Your greeting to DeSantis on stage was certainly more than a wish to help the victims of the hurricane. It looks like a full endorsement of DeSantis – DeSantis is worse than polarizing,” one commented on Bryan’s post. It was one of the top comments with over 13,000 comments, a significant increase from the usual comment volume on the singer’s tweets.

“So it’s not possible to support the victims of a hurricane while supporting the LGBTQ community?” another asked. DeSantis is behind Florida’s “Do Not Say Gay” law, which prohibits teaching in Florida schools about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade or in any class “in a manner that is not appropriate to age or developmentally appropriate students in accordance with state standards. “

“You can raise awareness (and money) in your own name,” noted another Twitter user. “Having Desantis on stage gives you the impression (true or not) that you supported him. In this day and age, we must all be ready to speak out against lies, hatred and injustice.”

Below, watch a video clip of Bryan welcoming DeSantis to the stage, followed by Bryan’s speech.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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