by Rowan Bagley
In my very first post in this punk rock blog series, I mentioned a movement from the 1990s called Queercore. Similar to the Riot Grrrl movement of the same era, Queercore focuses on finding a space within a white, heterosexual, cisgendered art scene where members of the Queer community could feel comfortable. Also called Homocore, Queercore began in the mid-1980s as a direct reaction to societal contempt of the LGBTQ+ community and found its home in punk radicalism. Many of the Riot Grrrl groups of the time period overlap with Queercore bands, with Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, L7, and Sleather-Kinney being recognized as belonging to both movements. However, like all sub-genres of punk, Queercore has several groups that are often considered definitive, like The Butchies, Pansy Division, and Tribe 8.
Not only did Queercore come about from the disapproval of society as a whole, but it also arose from disapproval by white, cisgender gay men and lesbians within the LGBTQ+ community itself. Trans men and women, nonbinary people, and Queers of Color were often kept from scenes dominated by more “societally acceptable” Queer people and found themselves as outcasts in a community where they were meant to be accepted. Because of this, many Queercore groups sung about prejudices both in and out of the LGBTQ+ community, identity, individual rights, and developing sexual and gender expressions.
Although it is primarily associated with the 1990s, the Queercore movement is still a flourishing part of the punk scene today. Bands like The Spook School, Size of Sadness, She/Her/hers, and The Regrettes have come out in recent years as more and more teens and young adults find their voice in the punk scene and use it as a way of expressing their sexuality. Although American society has come a long way since the days of Ronald Reagan and the AIDs crisis of the 1980s, we are currently living under a presidential administration that is staunchly anti-LGBTQ+ and Queer youth are taking the fight against that bigotry into their music.
I’m fairly new to the Queercore scene, having only (officially) come out in my sophomore year of college, but I found in it a kind of music that I was previously unfamiliar with. I grew up with punk and rock music being played in my home more than any other genre, but I wasn’t aware that this kind of music could help me understand my sexual and gender identity until recently. Songs like “Burn Masculinity” by The Spook School, “Queer” by Garbage, and “She’s so Lovely” by The Butchies were some of my first introductions to the Queercore scene and were fundamental as I started to embrace my queerness.