Police Threatened Hayley Kiyoko to Not Bring Drag Queens on Stage for Concert
Hayley Kiyoko says police warned her not to bring drag performers on stage during her recent concert in Nashville due to Tennessee's alarming drag ban.
Known fondly by her fans as "Lesbian Jesus," Kiyoko documented the "emotional roller coaster" she experienced in Nashville, Tenn., where she performed at Marathon Music Works on May 1, via Instagram.
In a lengthy caption and in multiple videos, the "Chance" singer revealed Nashville police warned her ahead of her concert to not invite drag queens to perform on stage with her during her all-ages show.
Kiyoko wrote that during her day off on tour, she attended a Nashville drag show where she was brought up on stage. She decided to return the favor by bringing some of the queens out during her own show.
However, during soundcheck the day of the show, she "was advised by local law enforcement that having a drag performance at my all ages show could result in legal action. They warned us to not bring any drag performers on stage," the pop star wrote, adding she was "shattered."
The videos Kiyoko posted were taken "moments" before her show and portrayed the pop star reacting "in real time" to the debacle.
"I'm very upset. This is, like, it's just unbelievable," Kiyoko said in the first video, claiming there was an "undercover cop" at the venue.
Holding back tears, she continued, "This is so f---ed. I'm so sorry to my community, and I'm just devastated. This is not right," the singer continued, holding back tears.
"I never want to put anyone in a position to be at risk or in danger in any way. But also where is the line of being silenced? How do we navigate these absurd threats and laws against our community?" she wrote in her caption, adding, "I find pride in making sure my concerts are safe places for ALL. How can I do that if we aren’t allowed to be ourselves, especially at a predominantly queer concert? We deserve to have a safe space to be ourselves while we navigate the evil that is threatening our own existence."
Ultimately, she revealed that the drag performers she invited, LiberTea and Ivy St. James, decided to go on stage anyway, noting they displayed "no fear."
"We will not be silenced," Kiyoko concluded her post. See below:
It's unclear whether or not Kiyoko will face repercussions for the concert, but one thing is for sure: she has the support of many of her fellow artists, as well as her fans.
"Love you legend," the band MUNA commented on her Instagram post.
"Love you !! You’re doing the right thing!!!!!!" singer Violet Skies wrote.
"It’s such a mess right now what they’re doing. Stay strong. We won’t give up," drag queen Shangela commented.
According to NPR, a bill passed in Tennessee says that "adult cabaret" performances are restricted in public or in the presence of children.
Violating the drag ban can allegedly result in misdemeanor charges punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail.
ACLU of Tennessee's Henry Seaton told NPR that the bill is "subtle and sinister."