Lots of ink has been spilt over the matter since North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed NC House Bill 2 into law last week. This law supersedes any local laws providing anti-discrimination protection for LGBTQ people and bans any such future laws. This law is odious, even more so has been the argument put forth by GOP lawmakers that this is common sense legislation that will “…keep men out of womens’ locker rooms.”. That is not the purpose of this law at all, it exists only to further institutionalize bigotry. Period. I have lived many places, but I have always thought of North Carolina as my home, and this law (Not to mention efforts by the NC GOP to wreck the state education system and generally make NC a national embarrassment.) sickens me.
I have little concern, however, that HB2 will ultimately prove to have been one of the last desperate opposition efforts by bigots, on the road to eventual equality. That’s a long road, and it will be a long time before the vision of universal equality becomes reality. All of us have a role to play on this journey, there’s no room on the sidelines.
Later this year, the City of Raleigh, NC, will once again host IBMAs’ World of Bluegrass business conference and the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival that follows. Many organizations have voiced distress over HB2, threatening to avoid doing business in or with the state. San Francisco has even barred city employees from traveling to NC for nonessential city business using public funds. It is only natural for those of us making plans to attend WOB to consider whether we should likewise refuse to do business in the state, missing WOB and perhaps other engagements. There are reasonable arguments on both sides (To attend or not to attend that is, there is no reasonable argument for HB2), but I have decided to go. I’ll tell you why.
While the NC State House, including the clownish Pat McCrory, may be a snake-pit of bigotry and backward policies; North Carolinians in general are not. From more than a dozen local governments whose equality laws were just overturned, to the businesses and individuals who have been horrified by HB2, there’s no shortage of North Carolinians on the correct side of this issue. Even NCs’ own Attorney General Roy Cooper has announced that his office won’t defend HB2, rendering the law impotent unless McCrory hires outside council. Raleigh’s Mayor, Nancy McFarlane has come short of condemning HB2, but made it clear in this statement that the city of Raleigh doesn’t share the bigotry of the State House.
North Carolina may be going through a troubling time, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to abandon the good people, cities, and towns there. Quite the opposite, I feel it’s time to visit. It’s time to be with them in the spirit of equality, and to show them that they haven’t been abandoned; left to the devices of the lunatics who are temporarily in charge. I’m choosing to go to North Carolina as often as I can, to show them that I am an Ally. I’m going to play music in the face of bigotry. I’m going to go there to be with friends, LGBTQ and otherwise, in spite of people who would rather see people kept separate and afraid of each other. I’m going to show them my smiling face and support the people and business who need it right now more than I need to express my anger and frustration at the backward lawmakers who have scarred North Carolina with HB2.
See you in Raleigh.
Thanks for reading.