#WeAreNotThis or “Fundamentalist Idiocracy?:” North Carolina Artists React To Anti-LGBT Bill
Laura Ballance of Superchunk, Mat Cothran of Elvis Depressedly and Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart weigh in on the controversial bill.
On March 23, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and the state's Republican legislature passed HB2, a sweeping bill dismantling and banning nondiscrimination laws meant to protect LGBTQ persons across the state. Most famously, the bill forces transgender individuals to use bathrooms assigned to the gender they received on their birth certificate. But it has also erased the progress made by cities like Charlotte, which had passed its own bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. North Carolina's citizens have essentially been permitted to discriminate by their government. Sarah McBride of the Center for American Progress has called the bill "one of the most extreme, anti-LGBT bills we've seen yet."
A national boycott of North Carolina is growing amongst outside artists and corporations. Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr, Pepsi, Whole Foods, and even the pornography site xHamster have all withdrawn their presence in the state. But within its borders, there are many people who are angered, heartbroken and unsurprised at the legislation, who are undermining the image of North Carolina as a monolith of hate. The FADER spoke with some of these individuals who do or have at one point called North Carolina home, and asked them for their reactions to HB2.
Laura Ballance, (Co-founder of Merge Records, Superchunk bassist)
Ballance: The government of NC was taken over by the GOP in 2010 thanks largely to funding by "the third Koch brother" Art Pope and ever since they have been up to no good. Early on they amended the state constitution to make sure that no person could legally marry another person of the same gender in our state, and now we have HB2. Sadly, it's not only LGBT people that our state leaders are busy oppressing, suppressing, and destroying but also (among other things) people of color, teachers, poor people, our economy, animals, the environment, and the truth. It's depressing and embarrassing and is not a reflection of the true North Carolina.
Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu)
Stewart: I am not from North Carolina. I lived in a rapidly gentrifying Durham for four years and I hated it. I moved there in 2008 and moved away in 2012.
There are a lot of reasons I hated it, not least of which, it is the only place in my life that I was called “faggot” to my face by strangers. I was called “faggot” walking down the street, riding my bike, at the gym, eating lunch sitting on a park bench and shopping at Trader Joe's. When I told the asshole who said that to me there to fuck off, he backed me into a corner, put his fist in my face and asked me if I wanted to get my teeth smashed in. The response from the other shoppers and staff was to keep shopping and keep staffing. (For the record you pricks, I am bi. You could've least call me "faggoty" or "faggotesque")
I know that there are people in North Carolina that are working for the rights of the queer community and are profoundly and genuinely outraged at the overtly prejudiced fanaticism leveled against trans people by its government. Durham to its credit in fact hosts a sincerely beautiful pride parade and has a long standing dyke bar. But North Carolina is a place that was central to the trade and distribution of slaves, the KKK was founded there and was intensely active until the late 1980s, and their 20th century economy was based largely on cigarettes, cigarette marketing and share cropped tobacco. Now we have this latest foray into fundamentalist idiocy.
It is a place mired in a deep history of oppression, violence, opportunism and a culture of bigotry. Thank you so much to everyone continuing to stand up against this way of life but, to everyone else there, fuck that place.
Mat Cothran (Coma Cinema, Elvis Depressedly)
Cothran: Delaney [Mills] and I were both angered at the news of HB2 getting forced through the legislature and passed. Not only does it discriminate against an already unprotected community, it also hurts everyone (especially the poor and disenfranchised) by placing a ban on raising the state's minimum wage. This bill is a terrified, angry shriek from the hateful, evangelical conservative representatives in our state legislature, who fear the progress made in western North Carolina cities like Charlotte and Asheville. There are people all over the state (notably Our Voice and Equality NC) who work for equality, to end the oppression of both the LGBT community and the working class here in NC. I believe we will undo this attack on progress and inclusiveness, and I have been proud to see a national response against the hate perpetuated by Gov. McCrory and our state legislature.