In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Jon Hetherington, a devoted Beyoncé fan, was unable to attend her Seattle concert due to his wheelchair being deemed too tall for the plane. Hetherington, who had been eagerly waiting for 25 years to see Queen Bey perform, shared his disappointment on social media, and the internet rallied behind him. Now, efforts are underway to ensure he gets the chance to attend another show before the tour concludes.
The airline informed Hetherington that his wheelchair exceeded the height requirements for air travel, leaving him devastated. “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 recounted to Insider.
Taking to TikTok and other platforms, Hetherington shared his story, expressing his frustration with ableism. To his surprise, his video quickly went viral, attracting a wave of support from Beyoncé’s dedicated fan base. Hetherington’s TikTok comments section is now filled with people attempting to reach out to Beyoncé and her team, while others are showing solidarity through messages of support on various platforms.
The overwhelming response has included offers from fans willing to purchase tickets for Hetherington or even give up their own tickets to future shows. However, despite appreciating the gestures, Hetherington has chosen not to accept them. Instead, he is exploring his options for attending another concert.
For Hetherington, attending the Renaissance World Tour holds immense significance as a Black and queer individual. He recognizes Beyoncé’s deliberate efforts to collaborate with and uplift black queer culture, making the experience even more meaningful.
Beyond his personal disappointment, Hetherington’s decision to share his video was driven by a desire to shed light on the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals with disabilities due to ableism. He intentionally refrained from naming the specific airline involved, emphasizing that this issue extends beyond one incident.
Hetherington recounted a recent experience attending a Janelle Monáe concert in Seattle, where he was left stranded for hours after the wheelchair-accessible taxi service ceased operations after midnight without notifying him. He found himself “stuck on the streets of Seattle” until a friend’s father helped him secure a hotel room and a new charger for his wheelchair.
Despite these challenges, Hetherington’s determination to attend the Beyoncé concert wavered. He expressed frustration with the lack of awareness and understanding of the day-to-day obstacles faced by disabled individuals, emphasizing that society often only acknowledges their existence when it serves as inspiration or a feel-good story for able-bodied people.
With his viral videos drawing attention, Hetherington hopes to spark a broader conversation about dismantling ableism and raising awareness of the struggles faced by disabled individuals. However, he acknowledges the uphill battle in achieving societal change, particularly when it comes to disability rights.
Hetherington’s story serves as a poignant reminder of the barriers faced by disabled individuals and the urgent need for greater inclusivity and accessibility. As the online support continues to pour in, it is hoped that this incident will prompt meaningful discussions and actions to address ableism in society.