R.E.M., Arcade Fire + More React to Donald Trump’s Transgender Military Ban
Not surprisingly, many musicians took exception to President Donald Trump's tweet announcing that transgender Americans were being banned from serving in the military. Arcade Fire and Michael Stipe of R.E.M. were among the most vocal who spoke out in favor of transgender rights.
As Rolling Stone reported, Win Butler of Arcade Fire told an audience during their show in Brooklyn on Thursday, "I would just like to briefly say that trans people are not disturbances." He then pivoted to the man who sent the tweet. "Usually a bully starts with someone who he thinks is weak, but it's the f---ing wrong call. Goddamn, I wish this whole f---ing thing was a joke. We have a lot of work to do, collectively. We're really open to any way we can help, maybe we can figure it out together, because this f---ing s--- is really bad. We have to find a way to change it."
Michael Stipe posted a video to Instagram showing his solidarity. "This latest stunt is a political smoke screen," he said, "and it saddens me that our friends and patriots in the transgender community are in the sightlines of this reckless decision. Continue to stand firm and proud. We stand beside you and we will not abandon you."
Stipe's "we will not abandon you" was used in a video that Billboard Pride and the LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD created featuring numerous artists -- including Sia, the Chainsmokers, Rita Ora -- speaking out against the ban. You can watch it above. Stipe's message, the GLAAD video and a petition at Care2 calling for the band to be reversed were also tweeted by R.E.M.'s official account.
On Wednesday night, a photograph of transgender actor Alexis Arquette was projected on the video screens, along with other women, during Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' performance of "American Girl" at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York. The gesture was perceived as a show of support for the transgender community. Arquette died of AIDS complications in 2016.
R.E.M.'s Biggest Influences