Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko

Queer pop musician Hayley Kiyoko brought her current tour to Marathon Music Works in Nashville Monday. In a social media post, the singer says she was warned by “local law enforcement” not to bring drag performers onstage to avoid violating Tennessee’s controversial anti-drag bill, which is currently on hold due to a temporary restraining order. Kiyoko, who performed with the drag artists anyway, shared the story in an emotional video posted on her Instagram account.

“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,” Kiyoko writes in her caption. “They warned us to not bring any drag performers on stage. I was shattered as you can see in the videos I recorded reacting to the situation in real time before the show started.”

Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Kristin Mumford disputes the account in a statement to the Scene. While Tennessee’s state legislature in March passed SB3, which makes it illegal to “engage in an adult cabaret performance” on public property or where the performance “could be viewed by a person who is not an adult,” that law was temporarily struck down by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Parker as overly broad. As it stands, the legislation is subject to a stay through May 26.

“We wouldn’t do this to begin with,” Mumford writes. She continues:

“I am wondering, did this individual present ID? If you receive any additional information about the identity of this person who Hayley Kiyoko says presented themselves as an ‘undercover cop’ and ‘local law enforcement’ please let me know and I will follow up on that information. … We have no reason to believe it was a member of the MNPD.”

Kiyoko, who is often referred to as “Lesbian Jesus” by fans, appears to be among the first touring musicians to say their performance was directly affected by Tennessee’s anti-drag bill. Local artists have spoken out in opposition to the legislation, including at the Love Rising benefit concert at Bridgestone Arena — a March concert that featured Hozier, Allison Russell, Jason Isbell, Sheryl Crow and a host of other Nashville-based performers.

Bikini Kill founder Kathleen Hanna told the Scene in March that anti-drag legislation gave her shows additional importance in states where they exist.

“We’re specifically making the decision not to boycott places that have abortion bans, or bans on books, or bans on drag performance,” Hanna said. “Because we’re not going to let those fuckers tell us where we can and cannot go. And we feel like we’re most needed in those places as a site of community-building.”

The Scene reached out to both Marathon Music Works and Kiyoko’s representatives but has not yet received a response.

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