Boycotts & Benefits: Artists respond to HB2

Solo performers, bands, theatre troupes and others just say no to anti-LGBT legislation

Entertainers concerned about discrimination in North Carolina since the passage of HB2 have been alternately boycotting or playing and donating some or all of their proceeds to organizations fighting for LGBT rights.

Here is a sampling of some of the groups that have cancelled performances, as well as those who have chosen to take the opportunity to turn their shows into benefits.

Boycotts

Bruce Springsteen
Scheduled to perform April 10 in Greensboro.

Statement (in part): “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. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Pearl Jam
Scheduled to perform April 20 in Raleigh.

Statement (in part): “The HB2 law that was recently passed is a despicable piece of legislation that encourages discrimination against an entire group of American citizens. The practical implications are expansive and its negative impact upon basic human rights is profound. We want America to be a place where no one can be turned away from a business because of who they love or fired from their job for who they are…We have communicated with local groups and will be providing them with funds to help facilitate progress on this issue.”

Cirque du Soleil
Scheduled to perform April 20-24 in Greensboro, July 6-10 in Charlotte and June 22-26 in Raleigh.

Statement (in part): “Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form.”

Maroon 5
Scheduled to perform Sept. 11 in Charlotte and Sept. 12 in Raleigh.

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Statement (in part): “We don’t want to penalize our fans in North Carolina by not performing for them, but in the end it comes down to what we feel is morally right as we feel everyone should be treated equally.”

Ringo Starr
Scheduled to perform on June 18 in Cary.

Statement (in part): “I’m sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred. Spread peace and love.”

Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato
Scheduled to perform in June 30 in Charlotte and on July 2 in Raleigh.

Statement (in part): “One of our goals for the tour has always been to create an atmosphere where every single attendee feels equal, included, and accepted for they are. We know the cancellation of these shows is disappointing to our fans, but we trust that you will stand united with us against this hateful law.”
Lovato also wore a pro-transgender shirt during her Billboard Music Awards performance on May 22 and will be selling them on tour with proceeds going to Equality North Carolina and Time Out Youth Center.

Blue Man Group
Scheduled to perform June 17-19 in Charlotte.

Statement (in part): “We value every individual’s right to live a dignified, vibrant life in full color. As such, we are joining the growing list of entertainment professionals in protest of North Carolina’s HB2 law by canceling our upcoming tour performances in Charlotte.”

Benefits, performing in support of the LGBT community

Mumford and Sons
Performed on April 14 in Charlotte and donated to Equality North Carolina, Time Out Youth Center and the Equal Justice Initiative, a civil rights organization based in Alabama.

Statement from stage: “I think that we’ve sort of been feeling an underlying culture of fear that’s creeping into things, where we live and where you guys are, and we just want to stand and celebrate really the American values of justice and love. So we’re gonna have a justice and love festival with you tonight,” said lead singer Marcus Mumford.

Duran Duran
Duran Duran performed April 16 in Charlotte, after initially considering cancelling. They invited Matt Hirschy of Equality North Carolina onstage with a petition to repeal HB2 in hand so that they could sign it. They also donated tickets to the Time Out Youth Center.

They released a statement on their website, which they also read from stage. It said, in part, “Yes here it is again, just plain old-fashioned prejudice, fear and oppression, the same old kind that’s blighted the human race, in varying degrees, for all of its history. Duran Duran is opposed to bigotry and discrimination in all of its ugly forms, and so it follows that we are opposed to the basic premise of HB2. We support the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender community, to have equal opportunities. We support their rights to live free, happy, fulfilled lives.”

Tacocat
Tacocat performed on April 19 in Durham.

They released a statement that read, in part, “While we respect the decisions of giant acts like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and other mega-musicians whose shows have real economic impact on the region (and whose music has a wide enough fan base to possibly reach the ears of slime-brains in power), we feel that pulling out of our show — an all-ages show booked months ago at the Pinhook, a queer-friendly/ran venue — would only further punish those being marginalized.”

The band donated part of the door proceeds to Equality North Carolina and passed out Trans Life buttons.

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Against Me!
Against Me! went ahead with their show on May 15 in Durham, N.C., with transgender front woman Laura Jane Grace burning her birth certificate onstage in protest of HB2.

“Goodbye, gender,” she said while watching it catch fire.

In response to calls to cancel the show, Grace tweeted, “Hell no! I’m even more eager to play North Carolina ‘cause of the bill! Let me know if there’s any activist groups that can come table the show.”

Grace then asked Charlotte’s Time Out Youth Center via twitter if they would attend. They took up the call to action, tweeting back, “We’ll be there, and we can’t wait to meet you!”

Cyndi Lauper
Lauper performed on June 4 in Raleigh and donated proceeds to Equality NC. She also visited the LGBT Center of Raleigh ahead of her show and invited LGBT youth to share their experiences from the stage.

Interestingly, Lauper and Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed HB2 into law, met back in 1999 when she was in Charlotte, N.C., headlining a fundraiser for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network at the now closed nightclub Mythos (It is harder to imagine them palling around these days).

Of Monsters and Men
Of Monsters and Men performed in Raleigh on June 15.

“We decided to play and support a local organization which helps combat this bigotry. In an effort to raise awareness to this issue, we are working with North Carolina Needs You and will be donating 100 percent of merch proceeds from our show to the LGBT Center of Raleigh.”

Death Cab For Cutie, Chvrches
Death Cab For Cutie and Chvrches are on a co-headlining tour, with shows in Asheville, N.C., on June 11, and Charlotte, N.C., on June 16.

They released a joint statement saying that they would schedule no further dates in the state until HB2 is repealed. They also stated that their shows in Asheville and North Carolina would benefit Freedom Center for Social Justice and Southerners on New Ground.

“We are appalled by how Gov. Pat McCrory and his conservative cronies have stoked the flames of fear around an undocumented, non-issue (i.e., sexual predators posing as transgender for the purpose of molesting children) as a way to not only discriminate against transgender persons, but also to undermine the constitutional rights of North Carolina’s entire LGBT community,” the statement read. “This nefarious brand of bigotry is embarrassing for the state of North Carolina and has no place in this great nation.”

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Posted by Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. He graduated from the State University of New York at Brockport and has lived in Charlotte since 2006.@jefftaylorhuman.