In February, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill that classifies drag performances as a misdemeanor punishable by a $2,500 fine and even up to one year in jail. Shortly before it would have taken effect in April, a federal judge stayed the law through May 26. People reported that a spokesperson for the Nashville Police Department denied Kiyoko’s claims, directly citing the temporary stay.

If Nashville cops did confront Kiyoko, an openly queer artist with a largely queer fan base before her show, it’s part of an alarming trend of state agents targeting and surveilling LGBTQ performers and, in Kiyoko’s case, attempting to censor their speech and expression through intimidation. In March, we learned Florida sent undercover agents to a holiday drag show to surveil drag performers and queer attendees, too.


Amid these chilling and uncertain times for queer and trans people, it’s never been more important for artists to step up and do their part—whether, like Madonna, they’re donating proceeds from their Tennessee shows to trans advocacy organizations, or, like Kiyoko, rising above right-wing intimidation tactics and fostering supportive queer environments.