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Queercore is a cultural and social movement that began in the mid-1980s as an offshoot of punk. It is distinguished by a discontent with society in general and its complete disavowal of the gay and lesbian communities. This movement sought to fight what those involved believe to be society's "oppressive agenda."  Queercore expresses itself in DIY style through zines, music, writing, art and film.
As a musical genre, it may be distinguished by lyrics exploring themes of prejudice and dealing with issues such as sexual identity, gender identity and the rights of the individual; more generally bands offer a critique of society endemic to their position within it, sometimes in a light-hearted way, sometimes seriously. Musically, many queercore bands originated in the punk scene but the industrial music culture has been influential as well. Queercore groups encompass many genres such as hardcore punk, synthpunk, indie rock, power pop, no wave, noise, experimental, industrial and others.
The early yearsEdit
J.D.s, created by G.B. Jones and Bruce LaBruce, is widely acknowledged as being the zine which launched the movement. "J.D.s is seen by many to be the catalyst that pushed the queercore scene into existence," writes Amy Spencer in DIY: The Rise Of Lo-Fi Culture . At first the editors of J.D.s had chosen the appellation "homocore" to describe the movement but replaced the word homo with queer to better reflect the diversity of the scene as well as to disassociate themselves completely from the confines of gay and lesbian orthodoxy. The first issue was released in 1985, with a manifesto entitled "Don't Be Gay" published in the fanzine Maximum RocknRoll following soon after; inspiring, among many other zines, Holy Titclamps, edited by Larry-bob, Homocore by Tom Jennings and Deke Nihilson, Donna Dresch's Chainsaw, and Outpunk by Matt Wobensmith, these last two later functioning as music labels. These zines, and the movement, are characterised by an alternative to the self-imposed ghettoization of orthodox gay men and lesbians; sexual and gender diversity in opposition to the segregation practiced by the mainstream gay community; a dissatisfaction with a consumerist culture, proposing a DIY ethos in its place in order to create a culture of its own; and opposition to oppressive religious tenets and political repression.
In 1990, the J.D.s editors released the first queercore compilation, J.D.s Top Ten Homocore Hit Parade Tape, a cassette which included bands from Canada, such as Fifth Column; Nikki Parasite and Bomb from the U.S.; from England, The Apostles, Academy 23 and No Brain Cells; and, from New Zealand, Gorse. During this period of queercore in the late 1980s to the early 1990s, many of the punk rock bands involved were not necessarily queer but their ethics were motivation for supporting this movement. Other bands, such as Los Crudos and Go!, had one queer and outspoken member. The sexuality of band members has never been an issue in the choice to align oneself with the queercore movement or not. Other early queercore bands included Anti-Scrunti Faction, who appeared in J.D.s, and Comrades In Arms, Homocore editor Deke Nihilson's band. Shortly after the release of the tape J.D.s ceased publication and a new crop of zines arose, such as Jane and Frankie by Klaus and Jena von Brücker, Shrimp by Vaginal Davis and Fanorama by REB. The zine BIMBOX published statements such as "BIMBOX hereby renounces it's [sic] past use of the term lesbian and/or gay in a positive manner. This is a civil war against the ultimate evil, and consequently we must identify us and them in no uncertain terms, a task which will prove to be half the battle." 
The first queer zine gathering occurred at this time; "Spew", held in Chicago in 1991, offered an opportunity for all those involved in the scene to meet. Although organizer Steve LaFreniere was stabbed outside the venue at the end of the night, he quickly recovered and the event was deemed a success. Spew 2 took place in Los Angeles in 1992 , and Spew III in Toronto in 1993. These Spew events also included musical performances by queercore bands.
Among the better known bands from the early 1990s are Fifth Column, God Is My Co-Pilot, Pansy Division, PME, Sister George, Team Dresch,Tribe 8, Mukilteo Fairies, and Extra Fancy. As these bands gained popularity and awareness of the movement grew, zines began appearing from around the world; The Burning Times from Australia, P.M.S. from the UK, Speed Demon from Italy, and Brazilian e-zine Queercore, these last two still on-going, are just a few examples.
In Chicago, Mark Freitas and Joanna Brown organized a monthly "Homocore" night that featured queercore bands performing live, offering a stable venue for the scene to proliferate; most of the bands mentioned played at Homocore Chicago. As well, as Amy Spencer notes in DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture, "Through Homocore events, they aimed to create a space for men and women to be together, as opposed to the sense of gender segregation which was the norm in mainstream gay culture - They attacked the idea that due to your sexuality you should be offered only one choice of social scene..." 
In 1992 Matt Wobensmith's zine Outpunk also became a record label, and began to release its own queercore compilations, singles, and albums, and was crucial to the development of queercore. The first recordings by Tribe 8 and Pansy Division were released by the label. Some of the bands appearing later in the mid-1990s on the label include Sta-Prest, Cypher in the Snow and Behead the Prophet, No Lord Shall Live.
It was also at this time in the early 1990's that Riot Grrrl emerged. "In many ways the angry- girl genre owes its existence to punk homocore 'zines.." writes Emily White in Rock She Wrote. It follows that many of the participants, their zines and bands like Excuse 17 were involved in both movements .
Along with Outpunk, independent record labels such as Alternative Tentacles, K Records, Kill Rock Stars, Lookout! Records, Yoyo Recordings and Candy Ass Records also supported and released material by queercore artists but in the mid to late 1990s several other small labels sprung up solely devoted to queercore.
Donna Dresch's zine Chainsaw became a record label as well, and began to release recordings by newer bands such as The Need, The Third Sex and Longstocking. Heartcore Records is another label, whose bands have included The Little Deaths, Addicted2Fiction, Crowns On 45 and Ninja Death Squad. These bands, many of whom are no longer together, constituted the 'second wave' of queercore bands which also included IAMLoved, Subtonix, Best Revenge and Fagatron from the U.S., Skinjobs from Canada and, from Italy, Pussy Face. Of these early queercore labels, Chainsaw and Heartcore are still active and are still releasing new material.
By the mid 1990s, zines in the U.S., such as Marilyn Medusa, and in Canada, This Is The Salivation Army, began to link queercore with a pagan sensibility; at the same time, other strands in queercore began to link themselves with Riot Grrrl, and still others with anarchism. Mainstream media coverage intensified when Pansy Division toured the U.S. with Green Day, but nonetheless, queercore remained a grassroots movement in flux.
In 1996 in San Francisco, the Dirtybird 96 Queercore Festival presaged other queer music gatherings which occurred in the following decade . In the late 1990s and early 2000s, DUMBA provided an ongoing venue in New York for queercore bands , continuing in the path of Homocore Chicago and leading the way for other, similar clubs to come in the 2000s.
In the 2000s, queercore club nights and events continued to take place throughout Europe and North America. In Los Angeles' Silver Lake neightbourhood an underground queer music scene was in existence at the monthly queercore club called "The Freak Show" hosted by the leather bar The Gauntlet II for three years, where bands such as Best Revenge and IAMLoved played regularly. In Toronto, the queercore scene thrived for a number of years at the monthly club Vazaleen, or Club V, run by Will Munro, which featured bands from across the U.S.A and Canada, including such legendary performers as Jayne County. The festival Queer Panic was organized by Gordon Gordon of the zine Teen Fag in Seattle, Washington in June of 2000. Scutterfest was organized by Rudy Bleu of the zine Scutter in Los Angeles, California in 2001, 2002, and 2003. The Bent Festival was held in Seattle in 2002 and 2003. The festival Homo-a-go-go was held the summers of 2002, 2004 and 2006 in Olympia, Washington, featuring queer films, zines, performance and musical groups during the week-long event. Queeruption, which takes place in a different city each year, has been hosted by Berlin, Rome, New York and London in the past. In 2004 and 2005, a group of queercore bands toured throughout the U.S.; the tour was called Queercore Blitz and was yet another way to connect the like-minded. Queer groups that are flourishing now in the UK are Queers Without Borders, Queer Mutiny North, Cardiff Queer Mutiny, Queer Mutiny Brighton. A number of these are organised as Queer Mutiny groups.
16 records is a new queercore label that has been releasing albums by such Pacific Northwest bands as Shemo, The Haggard, and Swan Island, as well as the Brazilian band Dominatrix. In 2002, Agitprop! Records released a compilation titled Stand Up & Fucking Fight For It, which collected new music from queercore bands. It was the first release from the label, which features many queercore acts in its roster.
Queercore became increasingly an international phenomenon in the early 2000s, with bands such as Low End Models and Rhythm King And Her Friends from Germany, Kids Like Us out of Norway and She Devils, from Argentina. From Toronto, Canada, Kids on TV, with an industrial background, offer a new, more electronic direction for queercore, as do Lesbians on Ecstasy in Montreal, and Gravy Train!!!!, an electropop band from California. The Hidden Cameras are an anti-folk band from Toronto. Representing a more contemporary breed of hardcore punk are the straight edge band Limp Wrist from the United States. Three Dollar Bill from Chicago are more eclectic, ranging from punk to indie rock to metal. Also citing metal as an inspiration is ASSACRE, a one man fantasy metal/spazz noise act from Austin, Texas, and Gay for Johnny Depp, a thrash metal band from New York. Along with these new bands, queercore pioneers Team Dresch reunited in the mid-2000s for several tours.
In the UK there is a burgeoning queercore scene, fuelled by afore mentioned groups such as Queer Mutiny, the now defunct Homocrime, and record labels such as Local Kid arranging shows and releasing records by bands such as The Corey Orbisons, Sleeping States, Drunk Granny, Little Paper Squares, Husbands, Fake Tan and Lianne Hall. These bands all combine elements of the DIY culture that spurred queercore and the punk sensibility. With each new band the range of musical genres expands the definition of queercore.
In September 2005, writers David Ciminelli and Ken Knox published Homocore: The Loud and Raucous Rise of Queer Rock, which traced the early years of the movement and the many contemporary openly gay musicians who were inspired by it. The book was published by Alyson Books.
Influences vary for each musician, zine editor and filmmaker involved, but it is doubtful that queercore would have come into existence without the atmosphere surrounding the early punk years. Performers at that time either conspicuously played with conceptions of gender, such as Wayne County (now Jayne County) of Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, and Phranc from the aptly named Nervous Gender or, like Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks, Darby Crash of The Germs, members of The Screamers, The Raped, The Leather Nun, Malaria! and other bands, were not interested in hiding their sexuality. In 1979, members of Nervous Gender told Slash magazine,"...people think we're weird cause we're queer." The early punk scene with its connections to artists had an inherent diversity of sexualities; Vivienne Westwood used homoerotic Tom of Finland imagery for her now iconic punk t-shirts and punk style incorporated fetish wear that, while employed to shock, also signalled acceptance to those in the know. Many artists who later came to be known as 'Industrial' such as Throbbing Gristle and Coil, employing similar shock tactics, also had queer members and were equally influential. In the seminal punk film Jubilee, Derek Jarman captured the ambivalent and ambiguous sexuality of punk's early years.
Later, in the U.S. during the eighties when the Hardcore punk scene arose, The Dicks' Gary Floyd was writing queer-themed songs, as were many hardcore bands, except that he, along with Randy Turner of Big Boys were both open about being homosexuals. In England, in the anarcho-punk scene, Andy Martin of The Apostles was equally forthright. Politically motivated bands such as MDC and 7 Seconds in the U.S. were also introducing anti-homophobia messages into their songs at this time. However, it was the confrontational attitude and shock tactics of the punk and industrial scenes that queercore employed, rather than activism, or politics, or the mainstream approval and major label deals that gay and lesbian musicians of that time courted, since those involved in the queercore scene were not seeking the acceptance of society, be it homosexual or heterosexual, but rather to condemn it.
Filmmakers such as Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, early Andy Warhol and John Waters, Vivienne Dick and the aforementioned Derek Jarman were influential also, with their depictions of queer subcultures. In 1990 the editors of J.D.s began presenting J.D.s movie nights in various cities and, after the demise of J.D.s, each made films exploring the queercore milieu; Bruce LaBruce released No Skin Off My Ass in 1991; G.B. Jones' The Troublemakers was released in 1990, followed by The Yo-Yo Gang in 1992. In 1996, J.D.s contributor Anonymous Boy completed the first animated queercore film, Green Pubes. Documentary films about queercore include the 1996 releases She's Real, Worse Than Queer by Lucy Thane and Queercore: A Punk-u-mentary by Scott Treleaven. Gay Shame '98 by Scott Berry documents the first Gay Shame event. Tracy Flannigan's Rise Above: A Tribe 8 Documentary was released in 2003. 2003 also saw the premiere of the no budget comedy Malaqueerche: Queer Punk Rock Show by Sarah Adorable (of Scream Club) and Devon Devine, which brought the third wave of queercore to the screen. All these films impacted the scene and broadened the scope of queercore to include film as another of its mediums of expression.
As with punk, queercore culture existed outside of the mainstream so zines were crucial to its development. Hundreds of zines formed an intercontinental network that enabled queercore to spread and allow those in smaller, more repressive communities to participate. The DIY attitude of punk was integral to queercore as well. In the 1990s, as the availability of the internet increased, many queercore zines, such as Noise Queen could be found online as well as in print. The queercore zine label Xerox Revolutionaries run by Hank Revolt, was available online and distributed zines from 2000 to 2005. Queercore forums and chatrooms, such as QueerPunks started up. The Queer Zine Archive Project is an internet database of scanned queer zines that continues to grow.
All these developments allowed queercore to become a self-sustaining and self-determined subculture, expressing itself through a variety of mediums independent of the straight and gay establishment.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 du Pleissis, Michael; Chapman, Kathleen (Feb 1997). "Queercore: The distinct identities of subculture". College Literature. ISSN 0093-3139. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.</cite>
- ↑ Amy Spencer, DIY: The Rise Of Lo-Fi Culture, Marion Boyars Publishers, London, UK, 2005 </li>
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 <cite id="CITEREFKrishtalka2007">Krishtalka, Sholem (2007-01-04), “Art essay: We are Queercore”, Xtra, <http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=3&STORY_ID=2528&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=2></cite> </li>
- ↑ <cite style="font-style:normal">Hsu, Bill (1991-09-01). "Spew: The Queer Punk Convention". Postmodern Culture 2 (1). Johns Hopkins University Press. E-ISSN: 1053-1920. Retrieved on 2007-06-21.</cite> </li>
- ↑ <cite style="font-style:normal">Block, Adam (1992-02-25). "Spew 2 is the carnivallike convention of queer misfits". The Advocate (597): 77.</cite> </li>
- ↑ Amy Spencer, DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture, Marion Boyars Publishers, London, UK 2005 </li>
- ↑ Emily White, Rock She Wrote, Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers, ed., Delta, NYC, U.S. ISBN 0-385-31250-4 1995, pg. 406 </li>
- ↑ Larrybob, Dirtybird 96 Queercore Festival Press Release, 1996 </li>
- ↑ Trebay, Guy, "Queers in Space", The Village Voice, May 12-18, 1999 </li></ol>
- Spencer, Amy; DIY: The Rise Of Lo-Fi Culture, Marion Boyars Publishers, London, England, 2005 ISBN 0-7145-3105-7
- Queer Control Records
- Queercore 101
- The Queer Zine Convention - 'SPEW'
- "Queercore: The distinct identities of subculture"
- A History of Queer Zines
- QZAP: Queer Zine Archive Project
- Chainsaw Records
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