Taking Back Sunday
Kesha fought body shamers and a punk band fought North Carolina. What did you do this weekend?
Protest comes in a lot of different forms, and each one has its place in the great mosaic of Progress. Yesterday, pop star Kesha and punk rock star Laura Jane Grace each took big swings in the good fight to promote acceptance for all, and neither the haters nor the governor of North Carolina could stop them from shining. So if you’re still shaking of those weekend cobwebs, here are two inspirational clap backs to get you feeling empowered to face this Monday like the champion you are.
Laura Jane Grace protests the HB2 “Bathroom Bill”
The primary way pop culture figures have been protesting North Carolina’s discriminatory bathroom bill is by cancelling shows. Bruce Springsteen was one of the first and the loudest, and others like Nick Jonas, Ani DiFranco, Ringo Starr and Pearl Jam have also followed suit. But on Sunday, the band Against Me! took a different approach as the band’s frontwoman, Laura Jane Grace, set fire to her birth certificate on stage at a show in Durham.
Grace is a trans woman who came out in 2012, and since that time has become an outspoken member of her community. Against Me! even put an album in 2013 called Transgender Dysphoria Blues that explored the battle of coming to terms with gender identity. Given all this it makes sense that Grace, when asked if her group would cancel its North Carolina show in protest of HB2 she responded with these two tweets back in March:
It was suggested to me in an interview that we might cancel our May 15th show in Durham, NC because of the states HB2 bill. Hell no! (1/2)— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1459361945
I'm even more eager to play North Carolina 'cause of the bill! Let me know if there's any activist groups that can come table the show (2/2)— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1459362017
In April she posted another tweet saying the group would donate the money from its Durham show to Time Out Youth, an LGBTQ youth center in North and South Carolina, but since giving away money isn’t nearly as fun as setting things on fire, Grace started Sunday’s show by incinerating the document that says she can only use a men’s restroom in Tarheel State. As she waved the paper Grace told the crowd, “Goodbye gender!” to rapturous applause, and thanks to one very well positioned fan going by Kathryn on Twitter. You can watch the whole glorious 8 seconds here:
I guess gender really is over since @LauraJaneGrace said goodbye to gender! #genderisover https://t.co/EHXZJbMnM2— Kathryn Wymer (@Kathryn Wymer) 1463366973
Grace told a CBC radio show this morning that she went to North Carolina “to be reborn” and called her on stage move a “celebration of defiance.” And as she was waiting to exit the state at the airport, Grace took to Twitter once more to hammer home the irrelevance of her birth certificate.
When I decided to start HRT I had to undergo months of intense psycho-therapy to prove to a licensed therapist that I am not crazy...— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1463423438
I had to obtain a Doctors letter saying that my gender identity is indeed what I say it is. Why doesn't that piece of paper hold weight?— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1463423502
As if a birth certificate is some kind of eternally binding document. I never had any say in what was put on it.— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1463423551
No one asked me— Laura Jane Grace (@Laura Jane Grace) 1463423557
Kesha declares “I have decided to take my life back” on Instagram
While not so political a statement as Grace’s, Kesha had a rebirth of her own on social media yesterday. While Against Me! burned a government document to the screaming delight of fans, the embattled pop star posted a series of scantily clad yet tasteful seflies before closing with a finale shot of herself standing with two middle fingers in the air and taking back, “my freedom. my happiness. my voice. my worth.”
The image of Kesha, wearing nothing but bikini bottoms is a powerful one, as the singer has battled body image issues throughout her life and career. She even entered rehab for treatment related to her disorder in 2014. Since that time, things haven’t exactly gotten easier for Kesha. So far her public image in 2016 has been defined by a photo of her crying in a courtroom after learning that she would not be released from a record contract with Sony that keeps her connected to producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, who she has accused of raping and abusing her.
The legal battles over her contract and civil case against Dr. Luke don’t look to be moving in her favor, and Kesha hasn’t put out a new album since 2012. So in the heat of so many troubles it’s heartening to see the singer stand up for the one thing she can control: how she feels about herself, her body and her personal choice to pursue happiness, come what may. The entertainment industry is a brutal one, and the consequences of a life and career spiraling out of control can too often be grave. The road ahead is going to be a rocky one for Kesha, but as of right now she’s “HAPPY AS A DAMN CLAM,” and that’s something to cheer for.