Hayley Kiyoko hits back after police threat over drag queens at Tennessee gig: ‘This is so f**ked up’

Screenshots from Hayley Kiyoko instagram video describing being threatened with legal action for bringing drag performers on stage during a show in Tennessee.

Singer-songwriter and lesbian Jesus Hayley Kiyoko has defied a legal threat from Tennessee law officials by bringing drag queens on stage at her show in Nashville.

In an Instagram video, the 32-year-old musician got visibly emotional recalling how an undercover police officer attempted to thwart the drag queen cameo at her concert on 1 May.

In March, Tennessee became the first US state to pass a bill that incriminates drag performances in public, or wherever they can be seen by a minor. 

First offences would be classed as a misdemeanour and second offences a Class E felony, meaning drag performers could be sent to prison for up to six years. However, the bill is currently temporarily blocked until 26 May after a federal judge said it was too broad to be enacted into law.

Sharing the incident with her fans, Kiyoko, who is a lesbian, explained that she was invited on stage at LGBTQ+ bar PlayNashville while visiting on a day off from her The Panorama Tour.

In return, she asked the club’s drag performers to join her at her Nashville show the following evening – but an undercover police officer at the concert venue found out and threatened the star with “legal action”.

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“It’s just unbelievable,” Hayley Kiyoko said at the start of the video, filmed before the show. “I am getting ready for my show tonight and was really excited to bring out some incredible drag performers and there’s an undercover cop at the venue and apparently my show, because it’s all ages, we can’t have drag performers at the show.”

“We’re trying to figure out if there’s a workaround or what the situation is. This is f**ked up. This is so f**ked. I’m so sorry to my community. I’m devastated,” she continued, as she began to cry.

“This is not right. It’s not OK. My heart just goes out to everyone navigating this. This is not OK. I love you all, keep being yourselves.”

The “What I Need” singer posted the video alongside clarification of what transpired when she went on stage in the city.

“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 questioned, adding that the drag performers, LiberTea and Ivy St James, defiantly decided to come out on stage anyway, showing “no fear” of the vile drag ban.

Rounding off, Kiyoko said: “We deserve to have a safe space to be ourselves while we navigate the evil that is threatening our own existence.”

Kiyoko appears to be the first artist to be threatened with legal action for taking drag performers on stage during a Tennessee show.

In March, country singer Maren Morris demanded that law officials “arrest her” for introducing her son to drag queens before bringing them on-stage at the LGBTQ+ benefit concert ‘Love Rising’.

Meanwhile, in April, Lizzo defied the drag ban by inviting RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni including Aquaria, Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Asia O’Hara and Kandy Muse on stage to pefrorm with her.

Other Drag Race alumni and other drag performers have flocked to Hayley Kiyoko’s social media to thank the star for using her platform to stand against the anti-drag legislation.

“It’s such a mess right now what they’re doing,” wrote Shangela. “Stay strong. We won’t give up.”

“Thank you Hayley,” Willam wrote, while RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage commented: “I love you”.

Tennessee’s drag ban is just one of hundreds of of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being pushed forward in states across the US.

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