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4 min Read
Published September 26, 2016

How 8 NC Businesses Are Fighting Back Against HB2

This past March, the North Carolina legislature passed House Bill 2. Dubbed “the bathroom bill,” HB2 forces transgender people in school or government facilities to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex at birth.

On top of that, HB2 prevents municipalities from creating their own minimum wage standards and nondiscrimination ordinances. The bill has been widely criticized as the country’s most anti-LGBTQ measure, and caused a nationwide backlash.

These 8 local businesses have taken matters into their own hands, fighting back against the bill in creative ways.


Clyde Cooper’s BBQ

“You want the powder-puffed version?” asks Debbie Holt. “Or my real thought?” I’ve just asked Debbie, owner of Clyde Cooper’s BBQ in Raleigh, how she reacted when she first heard about HB2. “I thought it was absolutely absurd bullshit.”

Debbie holds court behind the cash register, breaking off our conversation to shout hellos or goodbyes to customers and ring up orders. In the window behind her, next to a florescent pig in a chef’s hat, are two pieces of paper. One reads “Stop Profiling Muslims.” The other is what she calls her “HB2 script,” a manifesto detailing who should use which bathroom. (Bottom line: “Go to the bathroom where you feel best.”)

How 8 NC Businesses Are Fighting Back Against HB2 - 1

Clyde Cooper’s BBQ is a Raleigh institution; the same legislators who penned HB2 eat there on a regular basis, and the clientele has a decidedly conservative streak. “I’ve caught a lot of hell over this thing,” says Debbie. After her HB2 sign went viral on Facebook, she had people writing to her from fake accounts attacking her and swearing off Clyde Cooper’s BBQ forever. But Debbie stands firm on her position: “If you’re a Christian, it’s not our place to judge. I don’t care what anybody does. If you can live with it, that’s your business.”

RELATED: Eastern or Western BBQ: 10 Dire Southern Food Debates.

In explaining why she took her stance, Debbie circles back to empathy. “You have to put yourself in that person’s heartache,” she explains. Being transgender “takes great gumption and strength. You have to think about their deep-seated need to be who they are. Who are we to give them a hard time?”

Debbie Holt inside Clyde Cooper’s BBQ
Debbie Holt inside Clyde Cooper’s BBQ

Debbie welcomes conversation, but also dismisses those who are waiting for everyone to come around to their views. “That’s never going to happen,” she says. “You’ve got to understand that and just move on and get along. If you had a good mother and she raised you right, make your mother proud. And if you had a father that raised you right, make him proud. Don’t go beneath you. Move up.”

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  • Claire


  • Claire Sorrenson lives in Durham, NC and runs Celebration Stories, a small business that celebrates the love between family and friends with thoughtful and unique memory books. She loves writing, running along the Eno, and discovering the Triangle area’s many hidden gems. All my articles.

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