Beyoncé and her team flew out a disabled fan to her concert after an airline failed to accommodate his wheelchair.
On Sept. 14, Jon Hetherington, who had waited 25 years to see Beyoncé perform live, was about to board his flight to attend the Renaissance Tour stop in Seattle when his airline turned him away, unable to accommodate his wheelchair’s size.
Instead of attending Bey’s concert that evening, he made a TikTok about the ableism he experienced at the airport.
“Well, guess I’m not going to Seattle and I’m not seeing Beyoncé. Got to the airport to take my flight and they tell me that my chair is apparently four inches too tall to be loaded onto the plane … Ableism strikes again,” Hetherington, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, recounted.
“The guy at the counter filled out this form and it basically said like, ‘Your wheelchair exceeded the requirements to be able to fly and we did everything we could to address this and resolve the issue and we couldn’t,'” Hetherington, 34, told Insider after his video went viral.
Frustrated by Hetherington’s experience, the BeyHive — the online community of Beyoncé fans — began offering Hetherington their tickets to other Renaissance Tour stops, as well as offered to help him with travel.
Fans also tagged Beyoncé and her team in the comments section of his TikTok, which eventually caught the attention of the music superstar.
Within days of his video going viral, Hetherington was contacted by Beyoncé’s team, who offered him a ticket to the artist’s Sept. 21 Dallas tour stop as well as transportation to and from the concert.
In an Instagram post, Hetherington revealed the concert marked the first time he was able to attend a concert in a floor section, as ADA-compliant seating is typically located in the raised and/or balcony sections of many venues.
On Instagram, Hetherington shared a photo of himself meeting Beyoncé.
In the caption for another post, he wrote he would “treasure” what the singer told him.
“I will treasure those words you said and the hugs you gave. I meant every word I said. No, for anyone and everyone reading this, I will not ever share with you what was said to me, don’t even try it. That moment is between the two of us,” he wrote.
Hethering, who is Black and pansexual, told Insider why Beyoncé and her Renaissance Tour are so important to him on a personal level.
“She made the conscious decision to collaborate with people and uplift Black queer culture, and that’s a huge deal that cannot be understated. It’s very important,” he explained.
Speaking to The New York Times, the Beyoncé fan added he hopes his experience will open up a bigger dialogue about ableism, which is a “systemic issue” that needs to be addressed.
“We have not built our society or this country in a way that is fully inclusive. Day to day, we’re kind of ignored and invisible,” he shared.
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