As students living in North Carolina, I’m sure you’ve heard all about House Bill 2. (If you haven’t yet, do a quick Google search before reading this.) One of the ways you’ve probably heard about it in the news is the fact that many musicians are canceling their shows in opposition of the discriminatory law.
Musical groups and entertainers such as Ringo Starr, Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Cirque du Soleil, Boston, Blue Man Group and, most recently, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas have canceled their performances in North Carolina to boycott the law.
Seeing these headlines really makes me feel conflicted. As a person who identifies with the LGBTQIA community, I understand that these artists are doing this to make a statement against HB2, and I respect and appreciate it. They don’t want their concerts to support the economies and legislation of North Carolina. But, another part of me thinks that these artists are missing an amazing opportunity.
First of all, canceling the concerts is punishing the wrong people.
The people going to these concerts aren’t the ones who put this law into action and they aren’t the people who signed it into law. A lot of these people could be kids that just want to see their favorite performer and have no idea how voting even works. Some of those attending can’t help the fact that they live here.
I see these concerts as an opportunity for musicians to use their voices. Huge celebrities like Springsteen have strong media presence with both young and old people across the world and could impact the hearts and minds of the thousands that are going to the concert or following it online.
Musicians could take this controversial issue as an opportunity to stand for the LGBTQIA community — it has been done before. For example, famous comedian Joel McHale did his comedy show in Durham April 8, but did something a little different. In this show, he wore a homemade LGBTQIA T-shirt and announced that all proceeds from the show would go to the LGBTQIA Center of Durham.
With this, the people who enjoy McHale got to see him perform, and the LGBTQIA Center got media attention and funds. Also, those in the audience who might be in support of HB2 got a different opinion from a familiar, favored celebrity.
Multiple performers have come forward and either performed or announced a performance with a similar progressive twist.
Mumford & Sons performed April 14 at the Time Warner Cable Arena and stated they would use all the show’s tickets to create a charitable fund for the local LGBTQIA community. Cyndi Lauper announced that she will be turning her show on June 4 in Raleigh into a day to build public support to repeal HB2 and is donating all of the profits from the show to Equality North Carolina.
This concert dilemma is actually affecting me directly. On May 11, Pentatonix is coming to Raleigh to perform, and that concert has not yet been canceled. I have bought my ticket and I plan to attend the Grammy-award winning a cappella group’s concert — it will actually be my first concert.
They are my absolute favorite band, and I am so excited. One of the reasons they mean so much to me is the fact that two of their members, Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, are members of the LGBTQIA community. They are living examples of successful, talented people with passion who identify within the LGBTQIA community.
That is what those in the LGBTQIA community of North Carolina need — supportive voices who identify with them. Because they are members of the LGBTQIA community, they can speak from experiences and offer North Carolinians a different perspective. They show the strength and bravery of the LGBTQIA community with their beautiful voices and powerful words.
Their voices of support can potentially comfort those being discriminated against, but it will remind fans that might support the bill who it affects directly. It is also important to note that none of the musicians that canceled concerts identify with the LGBTQIA community.
Imagine if Grassi and Hoying stood up and said powerful words about how they oppose the bill. Not only would those at the concert hear it, but it would most likely be filmed by some fans, shared online and spread. It would not only affect the attendees of the concert but could also be seen by millions across the world. Now that makes an impact. Just canceling the show would make headlines for a day and then, let’s be real, people would move on to other news.
These musicians have voices, and canceling their concerts takes those away. Yes, they are making a statement, but they are also losing the opportunity to spread love and kindness. They should use these platforms to advocate for the LGBTQIA community of North Carolina.
Perhaps my point could best be summed up by what performers Matt and Kim said at their recent show in North Carolina: “After much thought, we decided we need to do what we do best…get people excited. If we show up, say our piece and FIRE UP THE CROWD… Well, maybe they will leave with a little more energy to fight this bull — right on their home soil.”