Kehlani speaks out after sexual assault at Manchester concert

By Alma Fabiani

Published Dec 14, 2022 at 12:29 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Oakland-born R&B singer Kehlani (full name Kehlani Ashley Parrish) has spoken out after being sexually assaulted at a Manchester concert while touring Europe as part of their Blue Water Road Trip.

Taking to her Instagram Stories on Tuesday 13 December 2022 after a concert in England, the artist posted a message sharing her exasperation over the upsetting situation. “I’ve made video after video after video and deleted it because I don’t want any video of me as angry, triggered, crying upset as I am anywhere,” she began in her since-deleted statement.

“I don’t care how sexual you deem my music, my performances, my fun with my friends dancing at clubs, or me… That does not give any of you the right to cross a boundary like sticking your hands up my skirt and pulling my underwear to touch my genitals as I am being escorted through a crowd after performing. This shit made me sick to my stomach. As a victim of sexual assault, I am endlessly triggered and mindblown,” the ‘Gangsta’ singer revealed.

Kehlani, who has proudly identified as queer over the past several years, opened up about her sexuality during a 2021 interview with The Advocate. In it, they discussed their experience as a queer artist working in mainstream music, while also acknowledging their privilege as a “straight-presenting” cisgender woman. Only days prior, they had revealed on Instagram Live that they are a lesbian.

As a survivor herself, the singer has also been a longtime supporter of sexual assault victims, and has repeatedly stood up against sexual harrassment, abuse and assault. “We are women, we are life, we are the life source,” they told Billboard in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement. “That can be scary for people and it can result in terrible things, but don’t forget who you came from and what you are. Don’t forget your power, don’t let any trauma take away your power. That’s easier said than done, but you got this.”

In August, Kehlani cut a concert short over crowd safety concerns, telling the audience they didn’t “feel comfortable.” The singer was performing at The Mann Center’s Skyline Stage in Philadelphia as part of their North American tour when the show had to finish early because of “too many fans passing out in the crowd,” according to what concert-goers were discussing on TikTok at the time.

Although the singer has yet to comment further on the recent alleged incident, this didn’t stop her fans from discussing the matter on Twitter, defending Kehlani and sharing messages of support. Many highlighted the bigger issue at hand here, being the fact that some individuals feel like they have the right to invade and violate a specific celebrity’s personal space for the simple reason that they already have some elements in their life in the spotlight.

Other users also pointed out the fact that some people believe they have the same ‘rights’ over someone who is open and expressive about their sexuality in the public forum, like Kehlani. Back in 2013, fellow American singer Miley Cyrus spoke about how her controversial on-stage persona and revealing outfits were all part of her act.

“I don’t actually walk around all day twerking with my tongue out dressed as a teddy bear,” she told the BBC at the time, making a point of highlighting how she was both sexualised on stage and the rest of the time, no matter what she did.

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