This is a tough one.
As you may have noticed, I don’t do much in the way of politics or even social activism on my blog. This isn’t because I’m not passionate about such issues or because I don’t hold opinions (oh, the opinions…). But when it comes to public discourse, I’d generally* prefer to let my characters ask the questions and my readers seek out their own answers; rather than distract myself (and alienate you) with constant blog or social media rants about stuff we’ll never agree on anyway.
There are some exceptions to this, however. And when it comes to things I will rant about, the stuff I will risk my reputation on, the rights of and respect for LGBT individuals are near the top of the list.
So my disappointment over the passage of HB2 in North Carolina was almost as great as the fact that a similar bill (which would have permitted Jim Crow-esque discrimination against LGBT individuals and families under the gross euphemism of “religious freedom”) had to be vetoed by our governor in Georgia.
I don’t know what I would have done to fight such a despicable law in my home state if it had passed; but since one has passed in North Carolina, I am faced with a choice regarding my signing at Malaprop’s in Asheville April 30th.
Many businesses, authors and artists are — rightfully — expressing their protests and providing financial incentive for repeal of this horrible law by pulling conferences, tours and other events out of North Carolina. Often these entities are simultaneously hoping to engage the population, non-profits and influencers of the state for positive change. Since they have tremendous combined economic and social influence, I certainly hope they will succeed.
I don’t even begin to pretend that my little signing event compares to a Pearl Jam or Springsteen concert or even to authors like Sherman Alexie (who chose to boycott) or Christina Baker Kline (who chose not, and articulates it way better than I am).
But you can make the argument that when it comes to morality, scale doesn’t matter. If it’s right for Pearl Jam, the same principle should hold for a mid-list romantic comedy writer, right?
Well… yes. And no.
The economic impact of my pulling out of an event in North Carolina would be too minuscule to be noticed in the state legislature. But it could matter enormously — especially if combined with other authors — for independent bookstores like Malaprop’s, who not only oppose HB2 and are fighting hard against it, but have long been sanctuaries for free speech, community connection and tolerance.
Everything you need to battle hate.
So while I respect and support the decisions of businesses, musicians and non-profits who are choosing to spend their money elsewhere until North Carolina pulls its act together; I’m making the choice to show up and engage in my own small way — for whatever it’s worth. I’ll also be making a small donation to Equality North Carolina for each sale of THE MARRIAGE PACT or REGRETS ONLY on April 30th.
And, hopefully we’ll even have a little fun in the process.
If you’re a fan or friend in North Carolina: Whether you attend my particular signing or not, I hope you’ll lend extra support to Malaprop’s (and stores like it) during this confusing and scary time. I also hope you’ll do your part to help repeal HB2 and help NC earn back its reputation as a progressive, welcoming state.
See you on April 30th!
*To my friends rolling their eyes because they frequently get an earful of my opinions after the third glass of Pinot Noir: that’s why I said “generally.”
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