According to a video she posted on Instagram, lesbian pop star Hayley Kiyoko was told she couldn’t bring drag queens on stage for her Nashville performance without risking legal action. Tennessee recently became the first state in the nation to pass a bill banning public drag performances. The bill was signed into law but has been put on hold until the end of May.
In a tearful video recorded moments before her performance, Kiyoko said the following while wearing her DRAG IS NOT A CRIME t-shirt:
We are in Nashville and I am very upset. I mean, I was upset, but now this is like it’s just unbelievable. I am getting ready for my show tonight and was really excited to bring out some incredible drag performances, and 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. So we’re trying to figure out if there’s a workaround or what the situation is, but this is fucked up. This is so fucked. I’m so sorry to my community, and I’m just devastated. I’m just devastated. This is just not right, not okay. And my heart just goes out to everyone navigating this. It’s just not okay. I love you all. Keep being yourselves.
The post also includes a video from a drag show at PlayNashville, where Kiyoko was brought up on stage with drag performers the night before her own performance, as she explains in the post’s caption.
She also wrote: “When the queens arrived it was about 10 minutes before the show. I was distraught and let them know what was communicated to us and our concerns. They showed no fear and said they wanted to continue with the show and come out on stage. So they did.”
The post features a video from the performance, in which Nashville queens LiberTea and Ivy St James appear.
Lizzo also recently brought drag queens out on stage during a Nashville performance amid the state’s drag ban.
Kiyoko truly said exactly what this all feels like in as few words as possible: “This is so fucked.”
Anti-LGBTQ bills have a significantly negative impact on the mental health of queer youth. Kiyoko has emphasized her commitment to providing safe spaces at her shows, and the fact that her concerts are all ages means that LGBTQ youth should feel welcomed and affirmed here. Even though the bill is currently on hold, it’s unsurprising it’s already having an effect on some performances, as these laws are often confusing.
These transphobic and harmful anti-drag legislation efforts are underway in many other states across the nation, including but not limited to Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Time Magazine is tracking developments on these laws state-by-state, so you can follow the latest in your area and around the country. Support your local drag performers.