An Oral History Of Gay Punk

It’s exciting when something happens in the news that reminds you how subversive punk rock can be. Via OUT, a conversation featuring remembrances from Bruce LaBruce, Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, and numerous notable others about a movement which changed the world, whether people know it or not:

The Queercore scene grew out of a generation that bristled against what it saw as the bourgeois trappings of a mainstream gay lifestyle and the macho, hetero hardcore scene that punk — a movement founded by women, people of color, and gays — had become. It started out as a loose collective, trading fanzines and letters, and evolved to include dozens of bands.

There was a gay element to early punk, such as the Los Angeles group The Germs — whose singer was the closeted Darby Crash—as well as Seattle transplants The Screamers, The Apostles in the U.K., and, in Texas, The Dicks. The original scene encompassed a proto-stage of what would become Queercore.

Bruce LaBruce and G. B. Jones had created this zine [J.D.s] that depicted this scene that didn’t really exist, other than in their minds. They made themselves larger than life, the superstars of this “gigantic” queer-punk scene in Toronto.

It was J.D.s, as in Juvenile Delinquents. That was the initial inspiration [for the zine]. It also stood for James Dean and J. D. Salinger. And I was drinking a lot of Jack Daniels at the time. We borrowed from The Situationists quite heavily — this idea of creating a spectacle and propping it up in the media, even though it was fiction. We created personae that we hid behind, in a Wizard of Oz style.

People in small towns were writing G. B. and Bruce, “Oh, my God, I thought I was the only person on Earth who felt this way!” Suddenly, there were people all over North America printing off fanzines and sending them to each other.

The “Great Toronto Zine War” is a compelling story. Bruce and G. B. split up, and it got crazy with the introduction of Johnny Noxzema, a real bomb-thrower. He put out the most important zines of the period, Bimbox and Double Bill. He sided with G. B., and they had this incredible war against Bruce.

Johnny Noxzema is a piece of work. His boyfriend, Rex, had a wooden leg—we called him “Pegleg”—and he was a psychiatrist and the sugar-daddy. Johnny was his younger, skinny, volatile, intelligent sidekick—or Frankenstein’s monster. They were shit-stirrers, which I completely identify with, but they did it in an abrasive, over-the-top way. At the height of the AIDS crisis, they stapled a condom into every issue — with a hole through it.

Read the rest at OUT

7 Comments on "An Oral History Of Gay Punk"

  1. Threefourdumb | Aug 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

    Glad you guys linked this one up, it’s a brilliant article about a time when punk was vital and meaningful.

  2. Thisisfake | Aug 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    Pun intended?

  3. On behalf of somewhat gracefully aging queer punks who managed to accidentally live long enough to read this…

    …bravo 🙂 Thanks for happy memories and a warm fuzzy feeling I don’t often get.

  4. Scorzonera | Aug 25, 2012 at 4:22 am |

    I don’t live in Manchester, but “Queer Noise – the hidden history of Manchester’s Gay Music Culture” is a damn good site (quirky interface, mind you)

  5. Anarchy Pony | Aug 25, 2012 at 11:38 pm |


Comments are closed.