Haley Kiyoko defies Tennessee’s ‘unbelievable’ drag show ban at concert

First-time violators could face up to a year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines

Inga Parkel
Friday 05 May 2023 22:26 BST
Comments
"Inclusivity and Coming Out Stories" with Hayley Kiyoko | Billboard Pride

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Hayley Kiyoko fearlessly broke Tennessee’s new drag show ban during her recent Nashville concert.

On Tuesday (2 May), the day of the singer’s performance, she said she was approached by an undercover officer who “warned” her “not to bring any drag performers on stage”.

“I am getting ready for my show tonight and was really excited to bring out some incredible drag performers,” Kiyoko told followers in an Instagram video.

“There’s an undercover cop at the venue, and apparently my show, because it’s all ages, we can’t have drag performers at my show.”

Tearing up, the openly gay and vocal LGBT+ advocate expressed her disappointment, saying: “I’m very upset. I mean, I was upset, but now this is just unbelievable.”

In the caption, she explained that when the drag queens arrived 10 minutes before the show, she “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,” Kiyoko said.

“We will not be silenced. We will find ways to continue our authentic selves, no matter what. We will not give up.”

In early March, Tennessee lawmakers passed the country’s first anti-drag bill, which restricts “male or female impersonators” from public property or anywhere minors could be present.

Though the word “drag” doesn’t appear in the new law, it instead changed the definition of adult cabaret in Tennessee to mean “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors”.

Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up
Amazon Music logo

Enjoy unlimited access to 70 million ad-free songs and podcasts with Amazon Music

Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Any first-time violators risk being charged with a misdemeanour, resulting in fines of up to $2,500 (£1,900) and/or up to a year in prison. Persons with more than one offence could be charged with a felony and up to six years in prison with a fine of up to $3,000 (£2,300).

However, on the Friday (28 April) before Kiyoko’s concert, a federal judge placed a temporary hold on the restrictive law just hours before it was set to go into effect.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in