[Photo: Wes Breedwell]
Nashville music venue and youth center Rocketown has found itself under tremendous scrutiny this week. On Monday, Hostage Calm spoke out against the venue after a friend of the band, Wes Breedwell, was fired from the venue for wearing the band’s “I Support Same-Sex Marriage” T-shirt, allegedly.
In response, artists have made vows to stand up against the venue. AP reached out to artists across the scene to see who is taking Hostage Calm’s proposed “call to action.”
AP did reach out for opinions from both sides and Rocketown has released the following statement: “Rocketown does not comment on personnel issues, but, generally speaking, an employee would not be fired for expressing opinions on marriage. At Rocketown, we are welcoming and accepting of all youth. We reach out to all kids, are inclusive and very much care about acceptance of youth from different ethnicities, sexual orientations, financial backgrounds and religions.”
Additionally, last night Breedwell issued his own statement via instagram, as well: “My name is Wes Breedwell. I am not gay but do support those who are. It’s unfortunate that Rocketown chose to terminate me for what they consider lack of judgment. I have worked tirelessly for seven years to foster acceptance of all types of music and people. It was my hope that progress was being made, however, Monday brought a level of intolerance I did not expect. This is a tough time for me, I’m devastated about losing my job and I request you respect my privacy. On the advice of counsel, I cannot and will not grant requests for interviews. Lastly, please refrain from internet bashing and respect everyone’s right to their opinions and beliefs.”
Here is what some musicians have to say about the incident:
For us, music has always had the feeling of “come one, come all.” In any venue in any city we visit, we like to give the people in attendance a sense of kindness and family. That’s what music has always given us. Despite our love for music and the amazing feeling that comes with creating it, a huge part of being a band and being friends is being able to accept each others individual beliefs in whatever aspect of life they are. We’ve found the same morals and belief system in almost every band we’ve played with.
It’s incredibly sad to see that a venue such as Rocketown can terminate someone’s employment after seven years because he did what he believes and knows is right. Freedom, love, and equality for everyone is right. The degradation of any human based on their gender identity or sexual orientation is wrong. We support same-sex marriage.
Josh Lyford, FOXFIRES
It is unbelievable that in 2013 you can lose your job for supporting same sex marriage. It is disgusting, and Rocketown and its staff should be ashamed. However, I'm sure they're not, and even though I hate to say it, I suppose it is a Christian venue's right to fire whomever they want for standing against the viewpoint of the administration. With that being said, fuck Rocketown. I'm glad that the last time I was there I got drunk in the van and puked on the side of the building.
Evan Weiss, INTO IT. OVER IT.
I absolutely disagree [with the action Rocketown took]. Punk rock is built on a foundation of tolerance and understanding regardless of color, creed or interests. This is not limited to sexual or religious orientation. It's a place where individuals should be accepted for who they are when they (in most cases) cannot be accepted by popular culture.
I'm dumbfounded that in 2013, this kind of thing could even be an issue. I wish I could form more of an explanation, but it's unbelievable to me that anyone not subscribing to a Christian state of mind should and will feel unwelcome at an all-ages youth center. The owners and operators should be ashamed. Fucking ashamed.
I am boycotting the venue. It's a drag because I always enjoyed playing and attending shows at Rocketown on previous tours playing in past bands. However, that being said, a center like that [showing human rights intolerance] is no place I want to host an event in which people should feel welcome. There are other all ages spots in Nashville. There are other promoters in Nashville. This should be a call to arms for not only the punk community of Tennessee, but for our community nationwide.
Tyler Carter, ISSUES
I took it upon myself to boycott the venue because of the situation that happened. I refuse to play the venue until there is a resolution. I was extremely upset to hear of something like this happening to one of our favorite venues, but we had to stand for what we believe in and what is right. Equality is something that Issues are all about, and I also used the opportunity to tell my fans that I am bisexual and that because of this situation, I no longer felt welcomed at that venue that I have loved so much. However because tons of kids have purchased tickets to see us on tour with A Day To Remember and Of Mice & Men I said we would be playing strictly for the fans.
I've never been "in the closet;" I've just always kept my personal life separated from my career and the internet. But I felt that there were a lot of people who needed a voice after this mishap, and it was time to let my fans into my personal life. The thing that is most touching is these fans who support these bands are so impacted by our bands taking a stand for what’s right. It's more effective now than I have ever seen. I know personally that I have read more than 100 fan messages to myself saying how much my stand on this has impacted them to be comfortable with themselves, or saved their lives. This is real; this is a movement, and I think bands are changing their fans’ lives now more than ever. That's what Issues' purpose is through music.
Continue to page two for responses from The Wonder Years, Transit, Make Do And Mend, The Story So Far and more
Matt Arsenault, A LOSS FOR WORDS
I think what has happened at Rocketown in Nashville is beyond ridiculous. I have known the employee that was fired for this disgusting reason for several years and he is such an amazing person—one of the few employees that stood out to me from when I played and attended shows there. He was a dedicated and passionate employee to the venue and the scene. I had respect for the venue—as all venues till they prove me otherwise. I think the venue made a terrible mistake by revealing how closed-minded they actually are. Punk rock and hardcore are all about being open and welcoming everyone and if a venue puts on these shows, one would assume said venue shared the same passion and beliefs. So I would love to see what they have to say defending themselves. Things like this don't go unnoticed. Too bad that in 2013 things like this are still happening.
Luke, Schwartz, MAKE DO AND MEND
Our band completely disagrees with the actions taken against our friend Wes Breedwell. Rocketown is not registered as a church, therefore they did not have the right to fire Wes for wearing a shirt stating his support for marriage equality. Growing up in Alabama and living in Nashville for a bit, I've spent a lot of time at Rocketown. Whether it be attending a show or playing a show there, I've always had a good time. It has the backbone to be what every young punk wants and needs: a stage to jump off of and a skatepark to skate. It is a place to get away from the outside world when it is wearing them down. Wes, Sasha, RC and the majority of the staff at Rocketown looked out for these kids and hung out with them and treated them like they'd known them for years, not caring about these kids backgrounds, race or sexuality. It didn't matter. The fact that Rocketown let their ignorant, outdated morals get in the way of that is so upsetting. We definitely take Wes' side in this matter and will not be playing this venue or stepping foot in it ever again. We urge other bands and showgoers to boycott Rocketown and all other businesses and organizations who openly practice bigotry and discrimination of any kind. MDAM support same-sex marriage.
THE STORY SO FAR
As a band we do our best to endorse and support causes and people we believe in. We aren't the most political band, but we felt the need to distance ourselves from this business. This is a situation in which we feel that actions speak louder than words. One love.
Dan “Soupy” Campbell, THE WONDER YEARS
The greater issue here to me is that Rocketown is meant to be a safe and constructive place for the youth of Nashville. This hard stance against equality is troubling, and I'm deeply saddened for any LGBT youth that attend Rocketown for any reason, concert or otherwise, that may now be upset and confused by why this center, that is meant to be a positive place for them, has now taken action to show that they feel that LGBT people are lesser and don't deserve the same rights.
Obviously, not all Christians are anti-gay. The staff we've worked with at Rocketown—both Christian and non-Christian, Wes included—have always been welcoming and understanding. I've had long conversations with them about issues like these over dinner a number of times, and I have a lot of respect for them for looking at their religion critically and letting their morality and logic guide them. It's because of this open-mindedness we were always happy and excited to support Rocketown and made it a point to play there over other [venues] a number of times.
In the future, I sincerely doubt that my band and many like ours will perform at this venue. Did they have the right to fire Wes? Maybe, from a legal standpoint. Does that mean that I should continue to bring revenue into an organization that is vocally anti-gay rights? Absolutely not.
I imagine Wes will end up as the talent buyer at another venue. I imagine =a lot of shows will shift to that venue, and I imagine a new chapter beginning for this scene in Nashville.
Tim Landers, TRANSIT
[We] couldn't disagree more with the action the venue took. There is no reason to force beliefs upon anyone. What they did was ignorant and childish. This is one of my main problems with religion.
Transit will not be playing at Rocketown in the future. Not unless things change. Why would we? We believe in same-sex marriage—apparently we are not welcome.