Laura Jane Grace Shares Essay About Against Me!’s North Carolina Protest Show

Against Me! performed in Durham, North Carolina last week despite the fact that many musicians — including Bruce Springsteen, Maroon 5, Pearl Jam, and many others — are boycotting the state over the discriminatory HB2 bathroom legislation. But back in April, Laura Jane Grace, who is trans, announced that Against Me! would play their scheduled show as an “act of protest.” She burned her birth certificate onstage at Motorco Music Hall, and told fans the following: “Bruce Springsteen pulling out of a concert has a noticeable financial effect. That’s lost revenue for the city. No one will notice that much if I cancel the show; it only hurts the fans and the people who have already bought tickets, and the people who could possibly be educated in a situation like that.”

Laura Jane Grace published an op-ed on Vulture today in conjunction with New York Magazine’s senior editor Jesse Singal. Laura Jane Grace introduces the essay by explaining why she decided it was important to perform for fans in North Carolina:

I didn’t even think twice about performing in North Carolina two weeks ago, on Sunday, May 15th, in Durham. I’m not a resident of North Carolina, but I do work in the state — my band has played there at least once or twice a year for almost the past 20 years, and I pay taxes in the state. If you’re a trans person living in North Carolina, it’s not like you have the option to be like, You know what? I’m gonna boycott my state — I’m not going to work today. I’m not gonna shop at the store. So my solution was never gonna be I’m just not gonna play in North Carolina. That’s ridiculous. I love North Carolina. It’s a beautiful state.

She later goes on to describe how it felt to perform for that particular audience, and the fans she met afterwards:

After the show I made a point of making myself available and hanging out, talking with people. Someone had printed the bathroom bill on toilet paper rolls and put them at the venue, though they changed the wording to what it really is: “Part 1: Mandatory hate in our schools. Subsection 1: hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. 1.1: Hate, hate. 1.2: Hate…” I met the person who had the toilet paper printed up and we took a picture together. At that show in particular, there were a lot of younger kids — really young kids who are struggling with gender identity and struggling with that kind of discrimination. When I came out, I had no community. I didn’t know any trans people. So back then, to go on tour and immediately have people who would wait around after shows to say hey, to say they were there if I needed a friend — that meant the world to me.

Read the full op-ed here.