Out gay male bands

(On way gay, outrageous, and confrontational male musicians, so plenty of sex talk. Use your judgment.)

On the 9th, from a poster in the LGBT district of Facebook:

I was listening to WFUV [in New York City] … at the gym this afternoon when they played a song from a band called PWR BTTM. Anyone heard of them before? Gay male bands are rare – I can only think of two: Pansy Division and Jinx Titanic – although I’m not an authority on the genre. They seem to have a following in larger cities as tickets are already sold out for their upcoming tour. Their site has a few of their songs.

And another poster extolled

Superfruit, which is made up the two gay members of Pentatonix, Scott and Mitch.

Both of these are bands of the minimum size: two members. And both, as well as Pansy Division and Jinx Titanic, tend to the outrageous and confrontational. I’m not an authority on the genre, either (but, yes, there have been other out gay male bands), so I’ll stick to these four: first, the duos, then the larger groups.

PWR BTTM. A wonderful p.r. shot of the duo, Liv Bruce on the left, Ben Hopkins on the right:

(#1)

From Wikipedia:

PWR BTTM is an American queer punk duo composed of Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins [who met at Bard College in 2011 and started performing together there]

The duo’s name is an alternative to the term “power bottom”, which is described by Fusion writer John Walker in a September 2015 article as “a receptive partner who eschews submission to play a dominant role during sex”, meaning that while someone is “bottoming”, they maintain the dominant power in a sexual interaction. Bruce and Hopkins both felt the name suited the group as a label of empowerment.

(Extensive discussion in my 5/4/11 posting “Power bottoms”.)

From a 2016 NPR piece on the band:

Both Hopkins and Bruce identify as queer and prefer gender-neutral they/them pronouns, and Bruce has a non-binary gender identity. The objects of desire and the breakers of hearts in their lyrics exist across the gender spectrum, and as the glitter and the glam-pop sound and even the band’s tongue-in-check name attest, the world of PWR BTTM is one in which — through some combination of humor, honesty, and pop-punk hooks — queerness is mainstreamed without losing what makes it revolutionary.

…  [They write] lyrics like “My girl gets scared / can’t take him anywhere”

Hopkins presents as male, albeit a guy with lots of glitter and makeup, often performing in a dress, but clearly a guy. Bruce, who started with the group under the name Oliver Bruce, presents as female, and now uses the feminine name Liv and uses feminine pronouns for herself. But she’s not trans, she’s genderqueer, as you can see in another p.r. photo:

(#2)

Yes, outrageous, flat-out queer, and appropriately punk-noisy, but not at all nasty. Celebratory, instead, fun to watch and listen to. Ben Hopkins told SPIN:

Rather than writing about my experiences with other people, ‘Ugly Cherries’ is the first song I’ve ever written about myself. It’s a confrontation: an attempt to unpack my own queerness with humor and self care. I just got so fucking tired of wishing I was different so I decided to scream, ‘She’s all right’ until I actually was.

Themes recur in the way musicians talk about their queer careers: they really love to create music; out queer music provides them with a way to work through their personal experiences of coming out and trying to find a way to live their lives (Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters is poignantly articulate on the topic; see some discussion in my 11/20/10 posting “Bullying and rage”.); and most of them appreciate that they reach out to a large audience of kids who really need the support and validation the music can provide.

Two videos: “Ugly Cherries” here and “Big Beautiful Day” here. YouTube will probably lead you from them to more videos from the band.

Superfruit. PWR BTTM does punk; Superfruit, with its roots in a cappella music, does pop. PWR BTTM is genderqueer; Superfruit is two cute gay guys, usually smiling:

(#3)

Grassi and Hoying

From Wikipedia:

Superfruit (often stylized as SUP3RFRUIT) is a comedy web show on YouTube, hosted by Mitchell Coby Michael Grassi (known professionally as Mitch Grassi) and Scott Richard Hoying (known professionally as Scott Hoying). Grassi and Hoying are both members of the a cappella group Pentatonix [originally formed in Arlington TX], and have been friends since they were 10 years old.

While the show mainly focuses on themselves and comedy, the show occasionally features vocal performances by Grassi and Hoying. They also tend to have a number of collaborations with many YouTube celebrities

The Pentatonix crew are accomplishedl, versatile singers, with a professional sheen that contrasts with the engaging amateurishness of many rock bands.

You can catch the video of the Superfruit guys doing “Bad 4 Us” here.

(Hat tip to Kim Darnell.)

Pansy Division. They’re old favorites of mine. I’ve been re-watching the 2009 documentary Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band while I write this posting, and I’ve posted about them several times, notably in the 12/16/12 posting “The gay underwear anthem”. One reference in that title is to their song “Anthem”: “We’re the buttfuckers of rock & roll / We wanna sock it to your hole” (the other is to gay underwear). Which sounds aggressive, but is, like almost all their music, cheerful and celebratorily gay. Somewhere between pop rock and punk. Drenched in gay sex, but also engagingly sweet.

Two samples you can listen to: “Smells Like Queer Spirit” here (bow to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Bunnies” here (as in fuck like bunnies).

Jinx Titanic. One of Chicago’s prides. From Wikipedia:

(#4)

John Patrick Kamys, (born September 21, 1968, Chicago, IL), better known by his stage name Jinx Titanic, is an American composer, singer, songwriter, recording artist, and author, best known for his outrageous stage persona, and image as the beer-swilling, cigar-smoking, sexually candid, lead singer of the eponymous rock band. Occasionally he will appear as a stage actor, movie actor, comedian, television personality, or host, and is also considered a notable member of the Queercore and Homocore movements.

Often aggressive, but it’s so clearly an act that you mostly have to understand it as playful. From YouTube: “Trade” here (as in rough trade) and “Happy Fag” from Stuporstardom!

One Response to “Out gay male bands”

  1. JackH Says:

    Don’t forget Automatic Pilot – http://www.automaticpilot.org/home.html

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