With just over a week to go before Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, event organizers continue to face difficulties in finding performers for the festivities. Those who have agreed to perform for the incoming president have provoked much public scrutiny, including 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho, who first stepped into the spotlight while appearing on NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
Evancho, who has a transgender older sister named Juliet, has faced a torrent of abuse on social media for agreeing to perform at the inaugural, with critics pointing to the vice-president elect’s controversial record on gay rights. As governor of Indiana, Mike Pence signed into law a religious freedom act in 2015 that was widely criticized for legitimizing discrimination against same-sex couples.
While Jackie prepares for her inauguration performance, her family is suing the Pine-Richland School District in Pennsylvania over Juliet’s right to use women’s bathrooms. It remains unclear whether Evancho’s whole family has received tickets for the inauguration.
In a rare interview with The New York Times, the sisters insisted that Juliet’s decision not to attend the event had nothing to do with the political controversy that surrounds it, while Jackie defended her motives for agreeing to the performance. “I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” she said. “So if people are going to hate on me it’s for the wrong reason.”
Singing for Donald Trump, she claimed, in no way compromised her support for Jackie’s fight for legal rights.
Both Trump and his inaugural committee have staunchly defended the young singer, with Boris Epshteyn, the inauguration committee spokesperson, writing in an email to The New York Times, “It is deeply saddening that we are at a place in our discourse where those eager to honor America at the inauguration of a president are subjected to hatred and ridicule.”
Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to boast of Evancho’s album sales skyrocketing following the announcement of her performance, a claim that — like many of his statements — raised eyebrows.
Read the full article at The New York Times.