After the sexual free-for-all that was 1970s glam rock, the pendulum swung back. The 1980s alt-rock landscape was impossibly straight. That’s ironic, since its holy trinity -- R.E.M., Hüsker Dü, and The Smiths -- was made of bands whose frontmen are now respectively queer, out, and sexually nebulous. But in the darker corners of the underground, bands were sprouting up that were defiantly -- and loudly -- gay. 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. Queercore was a call to arms and storming out of the closet. The literature came before the music. It started out as a loose collective, trading fanzines and letters, and evolved to include dozens of bands, as well as the extraordinary friendships and treacherous rivalries that come along with creative intensity. Here’s an oral history of Queercore, from its inky, Xeroxed beginnings until it rendered itself obsolete.
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.
GARY FLOYD: The thing that set Austin apart in 1979 was that there were always a lot of queers in the scene. There was a big influence from the artsy radio and television department at the university. I started The Dicks. I met the other guys, and, while it wasn’t exactly true, I told them I already had a band. The scene was so young and uninfluenced; we didn’t have to live up to anything. Soon, other bands that had gay people started showing up. The popular bands in Austin were fronted by openly gay guys.
We weren’t touring much in the first few years; other bands came through here, like Black Flag, Fear, and The Minutemen. I didn’t meet a lot of queers; Hüsker Dü came, but were in the closet. They stayed at my house. One night I caught Bob Mould looking at a gay magazine we had on the table. He put it back real quick.