Following Sunday’s shooting in Orlando that left 50 dead and dozens in critical condition, Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace, who grew up and lived in Florida, spoke with Rolling Stone about the hatred and fear that has seeped into our culture and why we need better gun control laws in the country.
“It’s completely fucked up,” Grace says. “It was the first thing I read this morning and – just terrifying. It was so fucking alarming between that and the shooting that happened with the singer from The Voice on Friday. Even going to the Bataclan in Paris, that just seeps into reality in this really fucking alarming way. You’d ideally want to think that venues and shows and clubs, places where people are going to dance and celebrating and enjoying life would be the safe place, but it’s clearly not. To think that whatever crazy fucking religious wars or whatever wars are happening out there are leaking into those areas, it’s so fucking terrifying.”
For the singer, the issue pivots around the ease of access to firearms. “[Guns] were such a part of the culture growing up,” Grace says. “Same people who are telling you, ‘Oh the government is trying to take away our guns,’ are living in extremes where it’s like, ‘Don’t you think this is fucking a little bit out of control that they have that fucking access to weapons?’ And for what?”
Grace says that, despite the fear of violence, it doesn’t mean that live shows would be curtailed or canceled. “In a show environment, you’re putting so much trust on everyone – venue, audience, everything,” she says. “But it can’t change. The only alternative to not doing shows, or having events or places like that, the idea of heightened security, of metal detectors or body scans before you can go into a place like that to enjoy yourself just seems so fucking New World Order and crazy to me, too. I don’t know what the solution is, other than gun control, frankly. It’s insane.”
Against Me! performed in Durham North Carolina last month, and Grace burned her birth certificate while onstage to protest the state’s HB2 bill, otherwise known as the “bathroom bill,” which seeks to force transgender people to use the restrooms associated with their gender assigned at birth.
She says the anger and hatred that has been fomenting recently has begun to intensify. “I feel that fever spreading between everything that’s happening with the election and so many other talking points, even with North Carolina’s [bathroom bill]. You really feel that tension and divide. It’s evident where you look at where the election and who the candidates are and how far right or far left it might be.”
Grace has become a leading transgender activist since coming out publicly about her trans identity and is currently speaking around the country about LGBT issues. In the wake of this attack, the worst on a specifically gay gathering in history, many may be anxious, but Grace hopes it won’t curtail the festivities.
“It’s a horrible thought to say you should react differently – to be less out there, to be less visible, to have less pride, literally. But at the same time, be safe,” Grace urges. “I don’t know what fucking advice to give to people in these types of situations. Trying to put myself in those situations, in a nightclub or in a show space or a signing to have something like that happen, there’s nothing you can tell someone other than fucking survive.”