As the North Carolina bathroom bill controversy continues to pummel the state’s arts and entertainment scene, with musicians canceling concerts in droves and Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg canceling a trip to University of North Carolina, a boutique hotel in Durham is flouting the new law with an all-inclusive sign created in Kansas City by artist Peregrine Honig.
The 21c Museum Hotel in Durham ordered several of the signs, which depict the familiar stick figure used to designate gender wearing a skirt on one side and trousers on the other. In place of “Women” or “Men” at the bottom, the signs read “WE DON’T CARE.”
21c Museum Hotel president Craig Greenberg says his company put up the signs in Durham to promote inclusiveness and actively oppose discrimination.
“We feel we have a moral obligation and responsibility to our community, our guests and our team to voice our opposition,” he said. “We elected to engage this issue through contemporary art, with the belief that art can drive not only conversation, but that it can also create change."
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The boutique hotel company also has locations in Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville and Lexington. The company, founded by a pair of contemporary art collectors, is opening a hotel in Oklahoma City this summer and has plans to redevelop the Savoy Hotel & Grill in Kansas City.
The signs, manufactured in Kansas City, Kan., by Midtown Signs, made the TV news in Durham when the hotel installed them.
Since Honig launched the sign on her Facebook page less than three weeks ago, she has sold 28 of the $125 signs to customers in seven states. She purchased a map from Gallup Map Co. in the Crossroads so she can stick pins in every city where the signs are mounted. The map hangs on the wall of Honig’s All is Fair transgender undergarment design studio, set to open in summer in the Alley Shops, 115 W. 18th St.
Honig is donating 10 percent of sales of the first 100 signs to Kansas City Care Clinic, which is starting a transgender-focused health program. A slice of sales of the second hundred signs (Honig says the percentage will increase as production costs fall) will be routed to the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project.
Honig, who has been working with the two groups for a year and three months, respectively, says she is excited by the early success of the signs and particularly their placement in North Carolina, where the new law requires transgender people to use public bathrooms conforming to the sex on their birth certificates.
In addition, the UK issued a travel warning to its citizens saying, “LGBT travelers may be affected by legislation passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.”
The controversy reared up in Kansas when both the House and Senate introduced similar bills, although they are not slated for debate this session.