Bruce Springsteen is proving it all night — and longer — that among LGBT allies, he is indeed the Boss.
The rock superstar is canceling his planned Sunday concert in Greensboro, N.C., in response to the state’s enactment of a law that prevents cities from adopting or enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances and bars transgender people from using the restrooms and locker rooms in public buildings that comport with their gender identity.
As you, my fans, know I’m scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law. HB2 — known officially as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act — dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. 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.
Springsteen has a long history as an LGBT ally. He has been a marriage equality advocate for years, saying in 2009, “I’ve long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same-sex couples,” and as far back as 1995, telling The Advocate, “There is no reason I can see why gays and lesbians shouldn’t get married.”
He wrote and performed the song “Streets of Philadelphia” for the 1993 movie Philadelphia, the biggest Hollywood film to that date on the subject of AIDS; he won an Oscar and four Grammys for the tune. He has shared the stage and friendship with lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge.
On his current tour, Springsteen and his E Street Band are playing all the songs from The River, his 1980 double album, along with other selections. The next concert date is Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio. Ticket-holders for the Greensboro show will be able to get refunds at the point of purchase.
Republican congressman Mark Walker, who represents parts of Greensboro, decried Springsteen as a “bully” and defended the law in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, though, had nothing but praise for the rocker.
“Bruce Springsteen is a hero and an icon because he gives voice, both through his music and his advocacy, to those who struggle against injustice,” Griffin said in a post on HRC's blog. “It means so much that he has spoken out against this hateful bill on behalf of thousands of citizens whose rights and fundamental dignity are being trampled by the leadership of North Carolina.”