Several artists have canceled their performances at Houston’s Whatever Fest following a transphobic Facebook post made by its founder Jason Price, the Houston Press reports. The performers that have dropped out include local bands Giant Kitty, Rose Ette, and Roky Moon and BOLT!, as well as the celebrated stand-up comic Hari Kondabolu.
Whatever Fest happens April 1 and 2, features performances from AWOLNation, Ghostface Killah, Cold War Kids, American Football, and others. Last week, co-founder Jason Price posted to Facebook a photo of an apparently transgender woman standing in an airport security line, with the caption “I mean, I know it’s Vegas and anything can happen here and does, but he should really be wearing some more clothes going through security at the airport. Yes, I did say HE.”
On Sunday night Houston’s Roologic Records announced that Giant Kitty, a band that features two trans members, would be dropping out in response to Price’s comment. Rose Ette, Roky Moon and BOLT!, and two other Roologic acts called Genesis BLU and SoBe Lash followed suit in solidarity. “We definitely looked to [Giant Kitty] because they are sort of at the front lines of the community that’s affected by the situation,” Roologic head Ruben Jiminez told the Press. Kondabolu announced his cancellation on Twitter Tuesday evening, linking to the Press‘ coverage of the controversy.
As a result of transphobic remarks made by 1 of its co-founders, I have pulled out of the Houston Whatever Festival. https://t.co/s0o8tKPK82
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) March 1, 2017
Price has since deleted the post, and both he and the festival have made public apologies on social media. “A few days ago I made a post on Facebook regarding a transgender person. When it was made there was no ill-will behind it,” Price wrote on Facebook on Friday. “However, I offended some folks in their community. In hindsight it wasn’t tasteful at all. I was an intolerant person and made fun of an innocent person that did not deserve it.”
A similar apology was posted to Whatever Fest’s Facebook page. “We have responsibility to let our staff, fans, bands, performers and supporters know that ALL people from all walks of life are welcome at HWF,” it read in part.
Price told the Press that he’d recently met with HATCH Youth, a local organization aimed at empowering LGBT young people, and discussed the prospect of HATCH volunteers having some sort of presence at the festival as a kind of penance. We’ve reached out to Whatever Fest for additional comment and to inquire about the nature of HATCH’s involvement, and will update this post if we hear back.