The recent axed shows by Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato join an increasing host of canceled performances across North Carolina and Mississippi in retaliation to anti-LGBT legislation recently passed in the southern states.
On the back of the discussion, TheVine explains what this issue is all about, and why some of the worlds biggest stars won’t stand for this bigotry garbage.
Jonas and Lovato along with artists and bands Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Boston are canceling North Carolina concerts in order to protest a controversial anti-LGBT bill, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (HB2). Meanwhile artists like Mumford & Sons, Cyndi Lauper and Laura Jane Grace have used their shows in the region as a platform to raise money for groups protesting the law.
— Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) April 25, 2016
While in Mississippi, another anti-LGBT measure has led to Tracy Morgan cancelling an April 29 performance in Tunica and Bryan Adams calling off his April show in Biloxi, Mississippi. These are big names pulling out from big shows with some big money attached.
The law that is being referred to as HB2 is the North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’, which is a statewide policy banning individuals from using public bathrooms and locker rooms that don’t correspond to their biological sex at birth. This practically outs transgender and gender fluid individuals – putting these people in dangerous and uncomfortable positions – which has faced strong opposition from trans and gay rights groups since it was passed in March.
— James P Sheffield (@JayShef) March 24, 2016
The law will only let transgender people use their own genders bathroom if they changed their gender marker on their birth certificates. But to do that, they must go through full gender-affirming surgery- despite not all trans people wanting to or being physically or emotionally able to go through this procedure.
For example, an American 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found only 33 percent of trans and gender nonconforming respondents reported having surgically transitioned. The majority of the people that don’t fit into this neat and tidy box will be affected by these changes.
At the same time, the state has stopped cities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect LGBT people. In effect they are actually legalising discrimination, since the state doesn’t ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, housing or public accommodation.
It’s a combination of state-enforced measures that are blatant attacks against LGBT rights and liberties. It’s a fucking joke. But the worst part is: that it isn’t.
— Michael C. Hughes (@_michaelhughes1) March 12, 2015
A similarly discriminatory measure was passed in Mississippi, with the so-called ‘religious liberties’ law called House Bill 1523 taking effect in July. The wide-sweeping legislation allows businesses and religious groups to deny the LGBT community certain services such as counseling, wedding planning and adoption support.
Groups denying such services will be protected from punishment if they act “consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction“.
Bruce Springsteen was one of the first prolific celebrities to protest the anti-LGBT changes in North Carolina, cancelling his show in Greensboro.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 11, 2016
‘The Boss’ wrote to his fans on his website to explain the move, saying:
“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 backward instead of forward”
While tween stars Jonas and Lovato cancelled their upcoming Honda Civic Your: Future Now tour dates in North Carolina in protest of North Carolina’s HB2, taking to Twitter and Instagram to post:
“After much thought and deliberation, we have decided to cancel our Honda Civic Tour: Future Now shows in Raleigh and Charlotte.
One our our goals for the tour has always been to create an atmosphere where every single attendee feels equal, included, and accepted for who they are.”
A week earlier Pearl Jam pulled out of their North Carolina show, in a handwritten statement the band told fans:
“It is with deep consideration and much regret that we must cancel the Raleigh show in North Carolina on April 20th.
“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.”
“The HB2 legislation targets the basic rights of transgender people and strips many nondiscrimination protections from the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community,” the band explained.
During a gig in Raleigh, band member Eddie Vedder went further to share an emotional explanation for their response- check it out below:
While regarding his cancelled gig in Mississippi, Bryan Adams wrote: “I find it incomprehensible that LGBT citizens are being discriminated against in the state of Mississippi,” he wrote on his website.
“I cannot in good conscience perform in a state where certain people are being denied their civil rights due to their sexual orientation … Hopefully, Mississippi will right itself, and I can come back and perform for all of my many fans. I look forward to that day.”
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) April 13, 2016
The stonewall against the southern state laws is also crossing over to others arts industries.
Actress Sharon Stone chose a new location for her upcoming movie The Principal, which was originally scheduled to be shot in Mississippi in June. She said in a statement to WDAM:
“I will not work in any state that holds or is actively creating laws to legally support discrimination against American citizens whether due to their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, nor where those laws are passed or approved by the government of said state.”
— Sharon Stone (@sharonstone) April 14, 2016
The circus performance troupe Cirque du Soleil have also cancelled performances in three North Carolina cities. They told audiences, “Cirque du Soleil strongly believes in diversity and equality for every individual and is opposed to discrimination in any form” from Cirque du Soleil. “The new HB2 legislation passed in North Carolina is an important regression to ensuring human rights for all.”
— Cirque du Soleil (@Cirque) April 15, 2016
Adding heat to the campaign, composer Stephen Schwartz said he will no longer allow his musicals, including Wicked and Pippin, to be performed in North Carolina. “I feel that it is very important that any state that passes such a law suffer economic and cultural consequences, partly because it is deserved and partly to discourage other states from following suit,” he wrote in a letter posted by BroadwayWorld.
The growing backlash against the new laws affecting LGBT rights are already threatening to cost the U.S. states millions in lost business and tourism. In North Carolina, the city of Raleigh has reportedly already lost around $3 million in lost tourism and business cancellations, according to the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The UK government has even issued a travel warning to British citizens about risks visiting America’s south. The update issued by the UK Foreign Office said:”LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.”
Here I am using a women's restroom in North Carolina that I'm technically barred from being in. They say I'm a pervert. They say I'm a man dressed as a woman. They say I'm a threat to their children. They say I'm confused. They say I'm dangerous. And they say accepting me as the person I have fought my life to be seen as reflects the downfall of a once great nation. I'm just a person. We are all just people. Trying to pee in peace. Trying to live our lives as fully and authentically as possible. Barring me from this restroom doesn't help anyone. And allowing me to continue to use this bathroom – just without fear of discrimination and harassment – doesn't hurt anyone. Stop this. We are good people. #repealhb2
The effects of these kind of stigmatizing legislation has led to the volume of calls for national transgender crisis hotline Trans Lifeline having nearly doubled since North Carolina restricted the use of public bathrooms based on sex.
While a new report from Georgia State University has found that transgender college students are more likely to attempt suicide at some point in their lives if their schools do not offer them gender-appropriate bathroom and housing accommodations.
To get a microscopic insight into the challenges transgender people face in terms of bathroom access, this Ted Talk by writer Ivan Coyote(filmed pre-bathroom bill) is a good place to start.