As part of her nationwide tour across the United States, Hayley Kiyoko performed in Nashville on May 1 and was joined by drag queens in defiance of the state’s evolving legislation against drag performances. Although the law is currently blocked in federal court, Kiyoko said an “undercover cop” advised her to keep drag queens off her stage.
The “Girls Like Girls” singer shared on social media that she had the idea to bring out two drag performers — Ivy St James and LiberTea — after seeing a drag show in the city. She said the decision caused “an emotional rollercoaster to say the least.”
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In a caption of a series of teary-eyed videos and concert footage, Kiyoko wrote she was “advised by local law enforcement that having a drag performance at my all ages show could result in legal action.” She told her followers that an “undercover cop” at her soundcheck had warned her to not bring out any drag performers and she “was shattered as you can see in the videos I recorded reacting to the situation in real time before the show started.”
“I never want to put anyone in a position to be at risk or in danger in any way,” she wrote. “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.”
As seen in the last few slides of her post, Kiyoko did bring the queens on stage with her and used the opportunity to advocate for the community. “We will not be silenced,” she wrote in the last paragraph of her caption. “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.”
Back in February, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that classifies drag performances as a misdemeanor that could result in costly fines and jail time. Shortly before it would have taken effect in April, a federal judge blocked the bill.
Kyioko joins a long list of musicians who have been using their stage time to fight against the restrictive laws. Kelsea Ballerini shook the country music world with her performance at the Country Music Awards when she was joined by four “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queens as she sang “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too).”
Miranda Lambert also recently entered the conversation after having written and recorded the theme song for “Queer Eye.”
“I don’t know why anybody would have time for all of the hate,” she told anchor Chris Wallace on his HBO Max and CNN show, “Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace?”
“My job is to write songs and sing songs about who I am, what I believe in, write all of our stories, and that’s part of the story and in my own life with my brother and his husband Marc,” she continued. “So I feel like you know, if you keep it about the music and love the rest of it’s just noise.”
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