Artists put their money where their hearts are by donating to Charlotte’s LGBT groups

After the passage of House Bill 2 in March, a wave of artists including Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Maroon 5 canceled their North Carolina shows in opposition to the controversial LGBT measure.

But others, from the Dave Matthews Band to comedian Jessimae Peluso, have opted to keep their scheduled shows here and make a statement by making donations to groups working to change the law.

That’s been a boon to groups like Time Out Youth, Equality North Carolina, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign.

A donation from the Dave Matthews Band, for example, will fund the hiring of a new part-time therapist at Time Out Youth, a Charlotte nonprofit based in NoDa that provides services for young LGBT individuals.

The group’s been looking for funding for the position, so the donation is “a big deal,” especially given the influx of work following the passage of HB2, said director Rodney Tucker.

Because so many of the donors remain anonymous, and because others ask that their amounts not be disclosed, it’s hard to say how much Charlotte-area LGBT nonprofits have received because of HB2. But the contributions total nearly $300,000 from some of the artists who did disclose their gifts.

Time Out Youth also has received donations from the group Duran Duran, singer Brandi Carlisle, singer Laura Grace, comedian Jessimae Peluso and folk signer Father John Misty, among others. Tucker says the group’s building on North Davidson was just bought by a new owner, so HB2-related donations will also help find Time Out Youth a new home before its lease expires in September.

“We’re exceeding our fundraising goals at the moment,” Tucker said.

HB2 requires people in government facilities to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. It also sets statewide categories of protected classes under nondiscrimination laws that exclude sexual orientation and gender identity. Proponents of the bill say it will protect women and children against sexual predators; opponents call it discriminatory.

One of the first bands to make a donation was Mumford and Sons, which contributed all the profits from its April 14 show at Time Warner Arena Cable to LGBT nonprofits, including Time Out Youth and Equality NC – “wonderfully worthy” organizations, the band said.

Matt Hirschy, Equality NC’s director of advancement, says the donations will go toward funding LGBT education, advertising and political advocacy. When Mumford and Sons was in Charlotte, the group requested to meet confidentially with Hirschy to hear about how the money would be used. “These artists are not doing it for publicity,” Hirschy said.

Hirschy says Equality NC also has received nearly $125,000 from singer Jackson Browne and the San Francisco 49ers football team. As owners and representatives from the 32 NFL teams gathered in Charlotte for their annual spring meeting last month, the California team said it donated $75,000 to the Equality NC to help repeal HB2.

“It’s unprecedented support, and it’s certainly much needed,” Hirschy said.

The most recent donor was Dead & Company, a collaboration of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer. The group said Thursday that it will keep its June 10 show at PNC Arena, and also will donate $100,000 to the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC. The band is also planning a “social action area” during its concert where fans can learn about HB2 from local nonprofits, and register to vote.

Since HB2 was signed into law, the HRC has received $50,000 from Dead & Co., and Jackson Browne has pledged $50,000, said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown. The Lumineers have also promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from their upcoming concert in September.

“These funds will make a significant impact in our fight on the ground as we continue our work to repeal the anti-LGBT law and restore North Carolina’s reputation,” said the HRC’s Jay Brown.

The North Carolina affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union declined to share total donation figures, but spokesman Mike Meno said the organization has seen a bump over the past several months.

Donations, Meno said, support litigation, communicationsand public education efforts. The ACLU and Equality NC are among the nonprofit groups that in late March filed a federal lawsuit challenging HB2.

“Our legal foundation receives no government funding and does not charge its clients for legal representation. Our work depends entirely on private donations, bequests, and court-awarded legal fees earned in successful cases,” Meno said.

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