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Cops told Hayley Kiyoko she couldn’t have drag queens in her show. She brought them onstage anyway.

Hayley Kiyoko
Hayley Kiyoko Photo: Screenshot

Out pop star Hayley Kiyoko says she was told by police that bringing drag performers onstage at her show in Nashville, Tennessee could result in legal action. She brought the queens onstage anyway.

In a long Instagram post, Kiyoko explained that after attending a drag show at Nashville gay club Play ahead of her May 1 tour stop in the city, she decided to invite some of the performers to appear onstage with her the following night at Marathon Music Works. But, she writes, “At soundcheck the day of, I 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.”

Earlier this year, Tennessee became the first state to pass legislation aimed at severely restricting drag performances. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill into law in early March, but last month a federal judge temporarily blocked the law, ruling that it could bar venues that host drag shows “from engaging in protected First Amendment expression.”

Clearly, that has not stopped local authorities from threatening performers.

Kiyoko writes that she was “shattered” by the news. “We are in Nashville and I am very upset,” she says in video recorded just after she was informed of the situation on Monday. “I mean, I was upset, but now this is like, it’s just unbelievable.”

“There’s an undercover cop in the venue and apparently my show, because it’s all ages, we can’t have drag performers at my show,” she continues. “So, we’re trying to figure out if there’s a workaround or what the situation is, but this is f–ked up. This is so f**ked. And I’m so sorry to my community, and I’m just devastated. I’m just devastated. This is just not right. It’s not okay. And my heart just goes out to everyone navigating this. It’s just not okay. I love you all. Keep being yourselves.”

“I never want to put anyone in a position to be at risk or in danger in any way,” Kiyoko wrote in the post’s caption. “But also where is the line of being silenced? How do we navigate these absurd threats and laws against our community? 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.”

She goes on to explain that when performers LiberTea and Ivy St. James arrived 10 minutes ahead of the show, she explained the situation and her team’s concerns to them.

“They showed no fear and said they wanted to continue with the show and come out on stage,” Kiyoko wrote. “So they did.”

She went on to thank both performers, posting video from the performance and backstage photos. “You looked radiant and truly inspire me,” she wrote. “We will not be silenced. We will find ways to continue to be our authentic selves, no matter what. We will not give up. No matter how hard they make it. I love you all so much.”

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