The North Carolina state legislature has caused national outrage after passing HB2, more popularly known as the "bathroom bill," which mandates that trans people cannot use public restrooms that correspond with the gender they identify as. While many Southern states are debating putting similar bills into effect, the White House has called the bill "harmful" and "meanspirited." Giant corporations like Pay Pal and Deutche Bank have pulled their business from the state, and the state capital of Raleigh alone has lost $700,000 in cancelled business, with the state projected to lose up to $24 million dollars from pulled events. A large part of this vast sum of financial loss comes from some of America's most iconic musicians, who are pulling out of giant shows scheduled in the state.
Here are the responses of some of the most famous performers:
Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas
The former Disney stars and current touring partners are the most recent performers to speak out against HB2, cancelling the two North Carolina stops on their "Honda Civic: Future Now" tour. Both stars have long identified as LGBTQ allies, with Jonas especially going out of his way to bring in a gay fan base. In a joint statement Lovato told her fans, "After much thought and deliberation, Nick and I have decided to cancel our shows in Raleigh and Charlotte. One of our goals for the Honda Civic Tour: Future Now has always been to create an atmosphere where every single attendee feels equal, included, and accepted for who they are… We know the cancelation of these shows is disappointing to our fans, but we trust that you will stand united with us against this hateful law."
The 90's icons cancelled their April 20 Raleigh show in solidarity with the state's LGBTQ residents, saying in a very alt handwritten note posted to their site, "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… It is for this reason that we must take a stand against prejudice, along with other artists and businesses, and join those in North Carolina who are working to oppose HB2 and repair what is currently unacceptable." The band added that they will be funding local groups that are fighting to repeal HB2.
The Boss pulled the plug on an April 10 show to show solidarity with North Carolina's LGBTQ residents. Through a statement released on his website, Springsteen explained the cancellation: "To my mind, [HB2 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." Springsteen also warned Michigan audiences that if a similar bill passed in the state, he might cancel future concerts there as well.
Laura Jane Grace
Ironically, one of the most recognizable trans rockstars, Against Me!'s front woman, Laura Jane Grace, told fans through a series of tweets that she is more excited than ever to play her May 15 show. Through a series of tweets, Grace told fans that she is more excited than ever to play her May 15th show. She told Buzzfeed News that she hopes to use the concert as an opportunity to increase trans visibility in the state. "I think the real danger with HB2 is that it creates a target on transgender people specifically.When you feel targeted as a trans person, the natural inclination is to go into hiding. But visibility is more important than ever; to go there and have the platform of a stage to stand on and speak your mind and represent yourself." Grace went on to commend Springsteen for his cancellation, but added that trans people living in North Carolina don't have the luxury of boycotting the state. ""They live here. They pay taxes. They are prisoners to it."
In a statement to Broadly, Grace says, "If HB2 and other similar bills/laws were anything but hateful fear mongering and discrimination, if people were really concerned about safety for women and children in public restrooms, they would ban convicted rapists and pedophiles from using them instead of focusing on transgender people's genitalia. But no, as it stands, convicted rapists and pedophiles are free to use public restrooms without identifying themselves, while transgender people are painted as mentally ill and as though the only reasons they'd have to use a public restroom that corresponds to their gender identity is because they're perverts and want to assault someone, as opposed to just using the fucking restroom facilities like everyone else."
The Lilith Fair icon was scheduled to perform at July 4 music festival supporting the Eno River, but she pulled out after the bill was passed. In a statement, she told her fans, "Today I stand arm in arm with my community, friends, family and fellow citizens in condemning this unjust law. And while I was looking forward to coming to Durham, I can not in good conscience do so at this time. When one of us is oppressed, all of us are oppressed, and only through the strength of our collective action will change occur. I wish to add my voice through this small action to the chorus of all of those working to make our world a more loving and accepting place."
Inspired by Springsteen, Starr cancelled his April 13 show in Cary, North Carolina. Through a Facebook statement, Starr wrote, "I'm sorry to disappoint my fans in the area, but we need to take a stand against this hatred. Spread peace and love. This law opens the door to discrimination everywhere by limiting anti-discrimination laws against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity… How sad that they feel that this group of people cannot be defended… As Canned Heat sang, 'Let's work together' and The Beatles said, 'All you need is love.'"
The openly gay country singer has decided not to pull out of her upcoming North Carolina tour dates. Through a statement on her Facebook, Carlile said, "I'm a small artist, and I'm gay, many of my fans are gay as well. To cancel my shows in NC would further oppress my fans who are hurt by this legislation, who worked hard to suppress it, and who need a place where they can come together. That's why we intend to be in Wilkesboro, Charlotte, Asheville, and Greensboro this summer. We're going to come together, let our voices be heard, not stand down, and make a joyful noise in the face of this insult of a law." After listening to the concerns of her fans, Carlile added that proceeds from her shows would be donated to the ACLU of North Carolina.
Rather than cancel her June 4 Raleigh show, Lauper says she is using it as an opportunity to bring awareness of LGBTQ issues to North Carolina and will donate the proceeds of her show to Equality North Carolina. In a statement on her website, Lauper explained. "The best way I know how to make a difference is what I have strived to do my whole life and that is show up for my family, friends, and fans in the LGBT community. So, for that reason I think the best way I can do my part is to turn my show in Raleigh on June 4 into an entire day to build public support to repeal HB2."
The King of Margaritaville and your dad's fav won't be cancelling North Carolina concerts as to not disappoint fans, but he did call HB2 "stupid" 10 times in a statement released on his website. Buffet did say that he would reconsider future shows in the state if the decision was not reversed, however: "As for the future of shows in North Carolina, it would definitely depend on whether that stupid law is repealed. That is up to the good people of North Carolina and there are many, and I am confident that they will see that the right thing will be done. As Forrest said, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'"
The "Summer of 69" singer wasn't scheduled to play any North Carolina shows but did take a page from many of the performers cancelling gigs, pulling out of an upcoming Biloxi show in protest of Mississipi's new religious liberty law, which would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. In an Instagram post, Adams wrote, "I find it incomprehensible that LGBT citizens are being discriminated against in the state of Mississippi. I cannot in good conscience perform in a State where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation. Therefore i'm cancelling my 14 April show at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Using my voice I stand in solidarity with all my LGBT friends to repeal this extremely discriminatory bill. Hopefully Mississippi will right itself and I can come back and perform for all of my many fans. I look forward to that day."
Adams' decision shows that North Carolina's cancellations might lead the way as a method of protest for entertainers across the country as more and more of these discriminatory bills are debated.
Broadly reached out to every artist on this list for further comment; all declined except Laura Jane Grace.