By now, most folks are probalby familiar with North Carolina's infamous "Bathroom Bill" (House Bill 2 – HB2). In short, this bill made a big issue out of something which had never been a problem: transgender folk using the bathroom with which they identify their gender. I have been using bathrooms in North Carolina for 50 years, and I have never had a problem with this or with the fear-mongering scenario that a guy will dress as a woman to use the women's room to molest children. The HB2 bill also took away other rights regarding harrassement and was overall punitive and stupid. On a personal level, it has caused me heartache to watch my LBGT friends have to consider where they will be welcomed and treated well since this bill has brought up anti-gay sentiments in some sectors and drawn attention back on people who just want to live their lives in peace – if not acceptance.
The result of the HB2 debacle has been a national outcry against North Carolina, with many companies protesting this discriminatory bill by canceling conventions here, artists canceling concerts, and the NBA pulling out of Charlotte. On a smaller scale, individuals have changed plans to travel to our state, or if they do come, they refuse to spend money here. While trying to support the LBGT community, these boycotts are actually hurting those they want to support. This excellent article gives a good overview of the situation.
After reading the article, someone asked me if HB2 was hurting my business, and that question made me stop to ponder (we "ponder" in the south). I hadn't considered it before, but I did know that personally, my transactions are down for the year when the market is actually booming and sales are abundant. I did move and have some personal distractions, so I had attributed my slower year to that, but then I realized that I haven't had a single gay or lesbian client all year. And that is very unusual for me. I mentioned it to some clients who said, "oh, yes, our [gay] nephew and his partner won't consider moving to North Carolina because North Carolina 'doesn't like them.'"
NO. I mean NO. North Carolina likes you! Our legislature is practicing fear and diversion tactics to distract the voters from the real issues in the state, like the education crisis (also brought on by the legislature). And jobs. And coal ash. You know, the important stuff.
And Asheville is very different from this narrow perception of our state. In fact, Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and most of the more urban areas of the state are disgusted with HB2. And we need like-minded people to come here to affect change.
Asheville is a welcoming and embracing town. Gay or straight, trans or not, unless you are a bigot, you will be welcomed in Asheville. If you are thinking of moving here but worried about the state spiraling backwards, then come help us move back to the progressive future that was in our sights just a few years ago before fear took over common sense.
I realize not everyone will think it prudent that I post a blog about a controversial "issue." After all, as someone trying to attract home buyers and sellers, shouldn't I err on the side of neutrality? Maybe, but on this I can't be neutral, because it isn't about what bathroom you use. It is about human dignity and rights and not discriminating blatantly or subtly against anyone. Anyone.