Why I’m Fighting North Carolina’s HB2 With Music and Megaphones

On a late Monday afternoon in Raleigh, North Carolina, most people are driving home from work, thinking about what they’re going to watch on Hulu or Netflix that evening.

Not me, at least not a couple of Mondays ago.

Wearing a reflective vest with “NAACP Marshal” printed on the back — and having just left a crowd of more than 800 people gathered for a Moral Monday at the state’s Capitol Building — I’d just watched Rev. Dr. William Barber lead the crowd in protest against NC’s House Bill 2, which sanctions discrimination against transgender people in the state, in addition to making it impossible for residents to sue their employers for discrimination at the state level.

Usually the one on stage, being the musician that I am, that day I was a legal observer, there to jot down the information of those who were arrested for civil disobedience. It’s a far cry from being under the lights and using my voice and guitar to sing about the things I can’t talk about in normal conversations: love, heartbreak, loss.

Since the passage of the HB2, however, my microphone is now a megaphone, and instead of serenading bar regulars, my tune is now the rallying up of trans and queer protesters around me who also oppose what NC is doing to its vulnerable citizens.

I didn’t plan on being an activist, though, but when Charlotte did the right thing and passed a non-discrimination ordinance that allowed transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender expression — only to have HB2 take that away — I knew that translating my life of performance to one of protest was something I had to do.

I needed to do it to protect my own life, as well as the lives of people in my community.

But in many ways, being a musician has prepared me for a life of activism. Like musicians, activists ride the flow of energy that only crowds can create. They spend countless unseen hours working on their cause, often late into the night. And if they’re lucky, they’re able to elevate conversation and disrupt the status quo with their voices and lives.

Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lara-americo/why-im-fighting-north-car_b_9880024.html