A furniture convention might be what stops North Carolina's ridiculous anti-LGBT law.

High Point, North Carolina, isn't just home to the world's largest chest of drawers.

That's it? Photo by Cmalaspina/Wikimedia Commons.


It's also the site of the High Point Market: a multibillion-dollar biannual furniture expo.

Contrary to popular belief, the expo sells lots of furniture, not just one really cool couch for $5 billion. Photo by PoshSurfside.com/Flickr.

And while a furniture convention might seem like an odd leader in the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, well .... we live in odd times.

The executive committee of the High Point Market released a sternly-worded statement Monday, warning the North Carolina state government of the intense economic backlash brewing in response to the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.

The law, signed last week by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory...

Pat is having a hard day. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

...forces transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to their sex as assigned at birth.

"Based on the reaction in just the last few days, hundreds and perhaps thousands of our customers will not attend Market this April," the High Point Market statement read.

The law, the convention's organizers argue, would put the expo's $5 billion annual contribution to the state economy at risk.

The backlash against the law, which was passed so quickly it took many by surprise, continues to grow.

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

According to a CNN Money report, the state of New York has already banned, "non-essential travel to North Carolina by state agencies." The mayor of Seattle has banned travel from his city to the state as well.

The NBA released a statement indicating it may pull the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte. The NCAA suggested it might do the same with its annual March Madness tournament.

American Airlines, Lowe's, Biogen, and PayPal — all of which have large presences in North Carolina, or are planning to expand to the state — denounced the law.

And the good news? If recent history is any guide, the pressure just might work.

A combination of business and activist pressure helped to convince Indiana to moderate its anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law last year.

Opposition from Disney, the NFL, Coca-Cola, and others helped to convince Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to veto a similar bill a few weeks ago.

Will the same strategy work in North Carolina? If nothing else, the state's legislators are finding out what the people of High Point know all too well:

Seriously. Photo by Cmalaspina/Wikimedia Commons.

You don't mess with the chest.

More

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular