Drag Sensation Reuben Kaye Forced to Reschedule Sydney Gig Over Protest Security Fears

Reuben Kaye at the Edinborough Fringe Festival in 2022 to illustrate protests against the drag performer.

Australian drag comedian and cabaret star Reuben Kaye is no stranger to controversy. Just a few weeks ago, Kaye inspired protests and grovelling apologies from The Project hosts for a joke he made live on the show about Jesus being gay which offended Christians.

But the latest bout is no laughing matter. Kaye was scheduled to perform tonight at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival but, on 18 April, the gig was rescheduled due to “unforeseen circumstances.”

Fans were left in the dark as to what these circumstances were until Kaye addressed the rescheduling in an Instagram post where he explained that security fears had forced the performer’s hand.

“There were some planned protests that meant it would be very complicated and difficult for me to guarantee the audience’s safety, the other comedians’ safety, my safety, my band’s safety, and even the safety of the businesses on Enmore Road,” Kaye said.

“So, we’ve postponed the show to a later date this year when it’s easier for us to do that for you. But don’t worry, we’ll be back, and I’ll see you at the next gig,” he finishes.


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A post shared by Reuben Kaye (@reubenkayeofficial)

The show has been rescheduled for July 1 with all tickets for the sold-out gig remaining valid.

It is not clear which protests Kaye is referring to in the video, however, following Kaye’s joke on The Project, the group Christian Lives Matter led a protest outside the Network 10 offices in Sydney.

30 men also led a protest down Newtown’s King Street, a suburb popular with LGBTQI+ people in the city’s Inner West right next to Enmore, chanting the Lord’s Prayer, also reportedly in response to the joke. Christian Lives Matter has denied being a part of the latter protest.

On April 14, the group, with over 24,000 members on Facebook, went dark on social media following the arrests of three of their members after they attacked protestors from Community Action for Rainbow Rights who were demonstrating against a speaking event by One Nation MP Mark Latham.

Militant Christian religious groups appear to be on the rise in the NSW capital, opposing “transgender ideology” and the rights of queer people. Although some have stated they are not anti-LGBTQI+, violent clashes have been seen at recent events, including the funeral of Cardinal George Pell where ribbons were cut down by Christian activists honouring the memories of those abused by the clergy. Christian Lives Matter protestors have also been seen holding banners reading “let boys be boys, let girls be girls” and others that say “LGBTQ = PEDOPHILIA”

In the ensuing fallout of Kaye’s appearance on The Project, hosts Waleed Aly and Sarah Harris directed an apology to viewers for the “deeply and needlessly offensive” joke.

“We want to acknowledge the particular offence and hurt that it caused our Muslim and especially our Christian viewers. Obviously, I understand how profound that offence was,” Aly said.

It appears that the joke in particular sparked much of the recent backlash organised by militant Christian groups.

Other viewers, however, pushed back on the apology, including comedian Em Rusciano who said The Project threw Kaye, who is both queer and Jewish, “under the bus.”

“They honestly don’t deserve him and his talent. I dunno if Australia deserves him! In the end, we always seem to champion the non-threatening and the mediocre,” Rusciano tweeted.

The rise of violent and organised backlash against the queer community of late has not been isolated to Australia. Indeed, much of the activism appears to be imported from the US where a barrage of laws are either being debated or have been passed that limit the rights of queer performers and those in drag.

The timing of these protests, and the resultant rescheduling, seems off given that Australia has recently mourned the passing of Barry Humphries, an icon of Australian culture famous for his drag character, Dame Edna. With the embrace of Humphries by the country, you would have thought we were past all of this kind of backlash by now but alas. If anything, these events serve as a reminder that culture and human rights are not fixed concepts and cannot be taken for granted.

Although Kaye was reached out to for comment, his publicist informed The Latch that he would not be commenting further on the Enmore Theatre situation. Kaye however does appear resolute not to let the protestors stop him and has promised to return to the stage in Enmore in a few months.

Related: Why Australia’s Trans Day of Visibility Rallies Were Vital

Related: The GLAAD Report Has Been Released and Finds a Rise in Queer Representation in Film

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