The Show Must Go On: Despite Anti-LGBT Bill, Some Musicians Are Still Greenlighting Performances in North Carolina

Posted April 17, 2016 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

While echoing their frustrations, some artists still plan to take to the stage in states where anti-gay bills are being passed

It’s been a very turbulent two weeks in the world of politics and social justice due to a number of Southern U.S. states beginning to pass a number of anti-LGBT bills. First it was Georgia’s HB757, but Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the states’ “religious freedom” bill, proclaiming that there is no room for discrimination in his state. Earlier this year, Deal echoed that he would veto any piece of legislation that “allows discrimination in our state in order to protect people of faith.” He then urged fellow Republicans to “recognize that the world is changing around us.”

But like a wild fire, similiar bills were enacted in several other states. Most are still sitting in the states’ senate and is still pending, but states like North Carolina and Mississippi saw those bills quickly accelerate to the desk of their governors and are now law. Big corporations like Time Warner, Apple and Intel, even major conventions and film studios like Disney, have announced they would be withdrawing future expansions and upcoming projects until the bills are rescended.

Then the music world chimed in: Bruce Springsteen and former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr both published statements on social media stating they were declining upcoming performances in North Carolina in protest to HB2, which was signed into legislation. Cirque du Soleil even pulled their road act from appearing in North Carolina.

But some musicians aren’t joining the big-profile “turn away” boycott, and are instead resorting to healthier alternatives by not alienating their fans and harming other allies and the local economies.

On Saturday night, Nile Rodgers & Chic took to the stage at PNC Music Pavillion in North Carolina as the opening act for Duran Duran. Before jumping into a medley of their best-selling hits on others artists like Diana Ross and Sister Sledge, Rodgers properly introduced “I’m Coming Out,” now revered as an iconic gay anthem. “And we’re in North Carolina, I want you to sing this twice as loud,” he yelled to the roaring audience. Live video of his performance posted on Facebook was also blessed with a sweet salutation of allegiance to his fans. “My music is for everybody,” Rodgers wrote.

duran-duran-nc-01Duran Duran also came forward with their pledged support towards the LGBT community, even broadcasting an American flag from behind with the stripes done in the colors of the official gay pride flag. They posted several photos of their vocal support towards the LGBT community along with the hashtag “equality.”

In a video excerpt posted on Facebook, Duran Duran can be heard echoing their resentment with HB2. “We considered canceling our show, but we decided to go ahead for the sake of our fans,” frontman Simon Le Bon told the concert audience. “This is plain, old-fashioned prejudice, fear and opression — the same ol’ kind that has plighted humanity in varied degrees for all of its history. Duran Duran is opposed to bigotry and discrimination in all of its forms.” Later on, the English synth-pop dance band signed a petition on stage created by lobbying group Equality North Carolina demanding HB2 be tossed out and that city non-discrimination ordinances protecting people based on gender identity and sexual orientation also be reinstated. (see video below)




Mumford & Sons continued on with their scheduled concert in Charlotte, and announced via Facebook that they would be donating all of the profits from their Charlotte show to a LGBT-related charity. “We’re now creating a charitable fund to support those who have made it their mission to pursue love and justice,” the group said. “We will be donating all of our profits from this show to this new fund. And we will start by making a donation from it to a local LGBTQ organization.”

Cyndi Lauper, a long-time LGBT advocate, also made headliners for stating she would continue to perform in the state, while sending her profits from an upcoming June 4th show in Raleigh to charity. “I will be donating all of the profits from the show to Equality North Carolina’s efforts to repeal HB2,” she wrote. “If we truly want an inclusive society, we all have to include ourselves in the effort to make that happen.”

‘Margarittaville’ star and renowned singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett echoed a similiar response. “North Carolina was there for me as a performer in the early days and I have always felt a loyalty to fans there that goes deep,” he wrote. “These shows were booked and sold out long before the governor signed that stupid law. I am not going to let stupidity or bigotry trump fun for my loyal fans this year.” No word if Buffett plans to donate to a LGBT cause or charity.

Even comedian Joel McHale, who performed at the Durham Center for the Arts, promised to donate “every single dime” from the show to the city’s LGBT center. “Joel is vehemently opposed to HB2 and knows there are many in Durham [which recently passed a measure condemning the law] that share the feeling,”  McHale’s rep said. “He felt this was a good way to raise awareness and much needed funds for a local center that is on the front line of this important cause.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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