On Friday, Bruce Springsteen cancelled his upcoming show in Greensboro, North Carolina, citing his opposition to the state’s sweeping new anti-LGBTQ law.
“North Carolina has just passed HB2,” Springsteen wrote on his website, explaining that the law “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use.”
North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act allows governments to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and prevents municipal governments from creating local laws that would offer these groups protections. Under the law, all public institutions must post signs designating that bathrooms and locker rooms are to be used only based on biological sex.
Springsteen was scheduled to perform on Sunday in Greensboro, but said he was cancelling the show because he and the E Street Band “want to show solidarity for those freedom fighters” protesting against the law.
Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden. To my mind, it’s an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments.
Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th.
Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry—which is happening as I write—is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.
Republican state legislators pushed the law through North Carolina’s general assembly and it was signed by the state’s governor, Pat McCrory, in just one day. Three people have filed a federal lawsuit against the act.
Major businesses including Bank of America and American Airlines, which are based in Charlotte, quickly condemned the law. This week, PayPal cancelled plans to open a new operation center in Charlotte, which would have employed more than 400 people.
Springsteen is a longtime gay rights supporter. In 1996, in an interview with the Advocate, he explained that he “didn’t buy a lot of those negative attitudes” about homosexuality as a teenager and had gay friends. He also noted that he considered himself a misfit at the time:
Basically, I was pretty ostracized in my hometown. Me and a few other guys were the town freaks—and there were many occasions when we were dodging getting beaten up ourselves.
So, no, I didn’t feel a part of those homophobic ideas. Also, I started to play in clubs when I was l6 or 17, and I was exposed to a lot of different lifestyles and a lot of different things. It was the sixties, and I was young, I was open-minded, and I wasn’t naturally intolerant.
The Boss then delivered a nice soliloquy on “the values that are at work in my work”:
Certainly tolerance and acceptance were at the forefront of my music. If my work was about anything, it was about the search for identity, for personal recognition, for acceptance, for communion, and for a big country. I’ve always felt that’s why people come to my shows, because they feel that big country in their hearts.