By Rev. Walter Beck
The Gay Rights Movement is in full swing in this country; New York just passed marriage equality, the support for gay marriage is exploding, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been repealed and Lady Gaga is one of the best-selling artists in the country. The country seems ready to embrace full equality and justice and I have to admit, as a hardcore GLBTQ activist, it’s a breath of fresh air.
But why is it always dance and pop? Where are my brothers and sisters under the Rainbow banner who wanna rock? Oh sure, rock n roll has had its sprinkling of GLBTQ musicians, there’s Rob Halford, metal god from Judas Priest, David Bowie, Lou Reed from the Velvet Underground, Freddie Mercury of Queen and Elton John. But it just seems like rock n roll is often “too macho” to bring the gay crowd to the stage. Fortunately, for the last twenty years there has been a strong underground movement welcoming us to rock out with our you-know-what’s out known as queercore.
Pansy Division: From San Francisco, these guys were one of the first queercore bands to reach a National audience as the opening act on Green Day’s Dookie tour and their definitely my favorites of the scene. They mix a three-chord sound with over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek lyrics in such songs as “Horny in the Morning”, “Fem in a Black Leather Jacket”, “Homo Christmas” and “Groovy Underwear”. Pansy Division is one of the few bands that have never disappointed me with their albums (another one is Motorhead).
Limp Wrist: This is one of the hardest punk bands I’ve heard and definitely the heaviest of the queercore scene. This is old-school hardcore punk with chainsaw guitars, chaotic drums, barking vocals and short bursts of anger with cuts like “Angry Queen”, “You Ain’t That Fierce” and “Stabbed in the Back”. This ain’t the sort of band that pretty boy ranting and raving about Glee is gonna dig.
God Is My Co-Pilot: This is the Velvet Underground sort to speak of the queercore scene, combining a strange instrumental sound with deep and often off the wall lyrics. If you’re into the stranger side of music when it comes to sounds and subject matter, you’ll definitely dig God Is My Co-Pilot; try to get a copy of their album I Am Not This Body.
Hunx & His Punx: These guys are one of the newest bands in the queercore scene with their debut full-length, Too Young to Be in Love, coming out this year. This is a different sound with the band fully rooted in an old-school rock n roll sound, a la Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, etc. Since I’m a big fan of that early rock n roll sound, I definitely recommend this band and their debut record.
Team Dresch: If you like your queercore on the grungy side, check out this band of angry lesbians from the mid 90’s. They sound like a jumped up version of L7, shredding through cuts of full-out rage like “I’m Illegal”, “Fagetarian and Dyke” and “Screwing Yer Courage”. Their 1995 debut Personal Best is one of the most underrated albums of the grunge movement and definitely an album to listen to and take down the system with it.
So there you have it! A brief overview of some of the more prominent bands in the queercore scene, they all have their quirks and their own unique sound, but one thing unifies them, they’re gay and they rock with the best of them.
As an activist and music junkie, I’m issuing a call to arms here; all my brothers and sisters under the Rainbow banner, cast off the mainstream pop and dance music that seems to “define” our culture and our lifestyle and pick up a guitar, a bass, a drum set, whatever, turn it up to full blast and let it all hang out. Leave the dance floor and run into the mosh pit! It’s true we will find our liberty sealed in the law of the land very soon, but we will also find our liberty sealed in the roaring sound of a distorted, dirty amp.