6 Artist Reactions to the N.C. Bathroom Bill
(Bruce Springsteen cancelled a North Carolina performance in protest of the discriminatory HB2, also known as the bathroom bill)
Since North Carolina passed HB2 – legislation colloquially known as the bathroom bill that prohibits transgender individuals from using restrooms that correspond to their gender -there has been immense blowback.
Initially designed as a ill-conceived response to an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte that granted explicit permission for the transgender community to exercise this basic right, the law has resulted in a legal battle between North Carolina and the federal government. The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state, and has threatened to slash federal funding for North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina. The governor and other high-ranking officials chose to respond with a lawsuit of their own, making it official: HB2 is not only the latest attempt at state-sanctioned discrimination against a historically marginalized group, but also a complete waste of public tax dollars.
Once again, resources that could work toward the Social Good are instead used to prop up inequality and create social division.
In addition to the federal government’s swift response, a number of other organizations, companies, and public figures have staked their own positions, either protesting the law, supporting pro-equality groups, or boycotting North Carolina until the discriminatory measure is repealed. The list of businesses that have boycotted the state grows every week, and as of this writing includes Paypal, Deutsche Bank, General Electric, Hyatt, Hewlett Packard, Whole Foods, Levis Strauss & Co., and Lionsgate.
Artists, too, have made their opinions heard in one way or another. Here are 6 examples of artists and groups voicing their support for the transgender community and the nonprofit groups supporting greater equality in North Carolina and beyond.
To my mind, [HB 2 is] an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments.Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.
2) Itzhak Perlman – The renowned Israeli-American violinist joined ranks with Springsteen, announcing that he would not follow though with a May performance in Raleigh with the North Carolina Symphony. For an artist representing an underfunded art form, the move is quite bold. The virtuoso explained his decision to NPR, stating that he intended to go through with the performance so long as he was permitted to donate his fee to Equality North Carolina, a nonprofit organization working for equality, and publicly explain his reasoning. The symphony informed him that the state would now allow such a statement. That’s when he made up his mind:
I thought, ‘I am going into a hostile situation.’ And that’s when I said, ‘As much as I hate to cause problems and stress, I have to have a stand. I’m canceling.’
3) Animal Collective – The popular electronic-indie group may not have canceled any performances over the bathroom bill, but have instead released a pair of live albums intended to raise money for North Carolina-based organizations fighting to reverse HB2. The band wrote an explanation to fans:
We felt that canceling our [Asheville] show, like many others have done in protest of this law, would be a disappointment to our fans and decided to go on with the performance. That being said, we don’t condone or agree with any type of bigotry or discrimination…For those who were at the show, you may have seen a table set up for Progress NC, who we were introduced to by NC Needs You. They are an organization ‘dedicated to being a voice for forward-thinking North Carolinians who want to protect the balanced approach to government.
4) Beyoncé – International pop sensation Beyoncé voiced her opposition to HB2, releasing a statement in support of Equality North Carolina. The singer appealed to fans to donate or volunteer for the organization in order to make a difference on behalf of the transgender community. Her statement reads in part:
It all began earlier this year when Charlotte passed a decree expanding North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws allowing LGBT people protection in places of public accommodation. The ordinance, which was set to go into effect on April 1st, would allow transgender people to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify as, amongst other progressive rights.
Rather than accepting the progression in LGBT rights, that same night, legislators returned to the state house to overrule the ordinance that would ban discrimination against LGBT people…Among the many organizations doing the good work to get this bill overturned, there is Equality NC, a local organization dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) North Carolinians.
5) Maroon 5 – The popular pop band headed by singer Adam Levine announced that they, too, would be canceling North Carolina performances – in both Charlotte and Raleigh – in response to HB2. In a statement posted online, the band expressed regret – but also their resolve – in making the decision:
We have announced that we will be canceling our upcoming shows in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina because of the recent passage of the HB2 legislation. This was a difficult decision for us to make as a band. We don’t want to penalize our fans in North Carolina by not I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.performing for them, but in the end it comes down to what we feel is morally right.
6) Against Me! – The critically acclaimed art-punk has no plans to cancel an upcoming show in North Carolina. The band’s lead singer Laura Jane Grace – an outspoken transgender woman passionate about social activism – responded on Twitter to questions as to whether her band would cancel a May performance in Durham: “It was suggested to me in an interview that we might cancel our May 15th show in Durham, NC because of the states HB2 bill. Hell no!”
She elaborated further on the decision for Buzzfeed:
I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.