In the weeks following North Carolina’s passing of the controversial “bathroom bill”, HB2, a great number of Heads of State, pundits, and celebrities have weighed in quite fervently. The reactions ranged from absolute praise by right-wing evangelicals, to travel bans and high dollar business boycotts from the left. The bill, and the issue behind it, is undoubtedly divisive, forcing people who identify as a gender other than their birth gender to the use only public restroom assigned to that birth gender.
In the midst of these reactions, one popular rock singer is sending mixed messages with their plan for a “protest” of sorts.
Laura Jane Grace, formerly known as Tom Gabel, is the transgender singer of modern punk rock band Against Me!, and made the transition from male to female in 2012, a decade after the band originally formed.
Now Grace is bringing the band to North Carolina, in an act of protest surrounding the passing of HB2.
Grace says of the decision to not boycott the state:
“I think the real danger with HB2 is that it creates a target on transgender people specifically”, going on to add “They live here. They pay taxes”.
While other artists such as Bryan Adams and Bruce Springsteen have opted not to travel to the state for their own concerts, Grace hopes that the concert itself will be a protest to the bill, and act as a gathering place for like-minded individuals.
And while Laura Jane Grace’s intentions may be coming from the heart, the event itself will certainly pad her purse. The notoriety and novelty of the concert will certainly drive ticket sales, which in turn will drive merchandise sales for the band themselves.
Also for consideration, is the great sum of money that will be spent in-state by fans of the band. Hotel rooms, gasoline, groceries, and concessions during the concert are all subject to state sales taxes and revenue for the local proprietors of those establishments.
So, can an anti-boycott really be an effective form of protest? We will have to wait until May 15 to know for sure.