It is my pleasure to present ten of the best bands in punkdom that embraced their LGBT roots and took to the airwaves. Am I an expert in queer theory? No. Not at all. But I know what I like, and these bands rage right there alongside their straight contemporaries. And while many of my gay friends will prefer to hear Madonna, I will endeavor to abstain from mentioning her in this list for the obvious reason.
1. The Dicks - "Saturday Night at the Bookstore"
Hailing out of progressive Austin, the Dicks were part of that early, 1980s Reagan-influenced socio-political hardcore scene. Singer Gary Floyd was as open as they come, and on this track, which reminds us of the Stooges' "Jesus Loves the Stooges" and the Dead Kennedys' "Night of the Living Rednecks," he pulls no stops on those who went on the down low in his community.
2. The Big Boys - "Spit"
Also from Austin, a veritable breeding ground for the alternative, the Big Boys were pioneers of the hardcore and skate punk scenes. Not as overtly political or sexually oriented as the Dicks, singer Randy "Biscuit" Turner was a beloved outsider artist and openly gay man who died in 2005 from cirrhosis of the liver due to an untreated Hepatitis C infection.
3. Limp Wrist - "I Love Hardcore Boys/I Love Boys Hardcore"
Singer Martin Sorrondeguy might be better-known for his brutal Chicago hardcore outfit, Los Crudos. A tough band for tough times, Los Crudos were an AK-47 of repressed Latino concerns in the U.S. When that band disbanded, Sorrondeguy went on to form the queercore outfit Limp Wrist. An extension of Los Crudos' sound, the only difference here is the gay and oftentimes hilarious lyrical work.
4. Pansy Division - "Homo Christmas"
Just past the Yuletide is this long-running queer powerhouse, Pansy Division with "Homo Christmas." A joyful sentiment from the guys behind clever albums like Touch My Joe Camel and For Those About to Suck Cock. Always funny and upbeat, we hope you shared this one with the family during Christmas Day breakfast.
5. MDC - "Dead Cops/America's So Straight"
MDC, however you know their initials to mean, have always been a controversial and outspoken force in hardcore punk. Dave Dictor would go on to another platform in the '90s penning provocative columns for Maximum Rocknroll. While not a gay band and Dictor usually abstruse in reply, MDC was a well-known leader in decrying homophobia at large and within the punk rock scene. The Bad Brains incident, anyone?
6. Hüsker Dü - "Don't Wanna Know if You're Lonely"
What has always baffled me about Hüsker Dü is how the one guy who fit all the aesthetic requirements (handlebar mustache, check! short shorts, check!) was not the gay one in the trio. Regardless, it is a well-known fact that Greg Norton's cohorts Bob Mould and Grant Hart penned some of the best songs anyone could ever put in a mixtape for an ex of any gender.
7. Tribe 8 - "Lezbophobia"
San Francisco's Tribe 8 are widely acknowledged as the first ladies of Queercore. Taking their nomenclature from the outmoded term "tribadism," they cut a swath through punkdom from 1991 through 2005. Singer and founder Lynn Breedlove has gone on to explore the worlds of cinematography, writing, and philanthropy with a queer eye firmly on the prize.
8. God is My Copilot - "Queer Disco Anthem"
NYC's God is My Copilot is another long-running outfit that has never shied from its strong Queercore roots and with an often tongue-in-cheek delivery. We can't think of a better platform than the song above. Helmed by Sharon Topper and Craig Flanigin, they've released close to 30 platters in twenty-two years of existence.
9. Wayne County and the Electric Chairs - "Fuck Off"
One of the pioneers of the early NYC punk scene, Jayne County blazed trails through the likes of Andy Warhol and his Factory, Patti Smith, and David Bowie. Rock's first transsexual singer, fame and fortune has evaded County but her influence can't be denied.
10. The Diesel Queens - "Man/Boy Love"
Onetime darlings of the Maximum Rocknroll pages, San Jose's Diesel Queens certainly brought the ugly and brash to queer punk. Burly, sour, maybe not even too clean, the Diesel Queens enjoyed a short run through the excesses of the 1990s. Widely considered extremely offensive for their stage antics, their sole LP Hooked on Moronics is an album that I miss dearly, as it was "borrowed" many, many years ago.
I couldn't help myself. I owe it to my gay friends who routinely put up with my punk rock racket. Enjoy!
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