A few months ago, I was at a More Than Life show in London. The show had been going great, and before MTL came on themselves, I went outside to talk to a friend of mine. During our conversation, a girl he had met recently came over to say hello, which was fine by all of us.
Unfortunately, the first thing that she had to say was a complaint that in whichever town she was from, several people thought she was a lesbian because of her tattoos. Whilst I understand that this could be frustrating, the manner in which she talked about it was nothing but ignorant and offensive, referring to gays as ‘just disgusting’, posturing that if you saw two people of the same sex kissing near you, it would be utterly repellent, as opposed to a heterosexual couple being ‘fine’.
By this point my friend, another guy and I were speechless at this horrific rant, and I felt utterly ashamed to be there, but it was taken even further. I had never met this person before, and I still don’t know who she is, but at the end of this outburst she turned to me, looked me over and said: “No offence”
I raised an eyebrow to this, and her response was that I ‘looked’ gay; presumably due to my clothes or the way I have my hair. At this point, I forced myself to walk away as I couldn’t bear to be in that situation any more. As a non-heterosexual member of the hardcore community I was shocked and appalled that this kind of attitude was being expressed so blatantly without any opposition or interference, and left feeling ostracised and ashamed.
In recent years I’ve been glad to see an upsurge of British bands such as Bastions and Kerouac (RIP) who actively speak out against homophobia (and on the same par, racism and sexism) in the hardcore scene, but it seems to me that an out-dated, thuggish attitude is still prevalent and remains largely unchallenged, and in the case of some groups, encouraged. It may seem like a somewhat moot point to many, but the use of ‘faggot’ as a lyrical insult is still worryingly common in many hardcore songs, leaving a number of people offended. I turned to hardcore music several years ago as a way to vent my frustrations and many groups seemed to voice my ideas, but have found myself unable to be open with many of the people I meet through my music for fear of a negative or homophobic reaction, and I’m sure that this is an even greater problem for those who have not yet come out.
Punk and hardcore began as a way for the displeased youth to voice opinions that challenged contemporary conservative views in the first place, including homophobia and sexism, and as a home for those whom society deemed abnormal – I have to even challenge the attitude of those who offended the aforementioned girl: not all tattooed women are lesbians, and not all guys with long hair or skinny jeans are gay; we just need to learn to embrace each other as lovers of the same music and a similar ideology.
I’m not proposing that everyone should go out and start a ‘queercore’ band, but I want to challenge the view that homosexuality in hardcore is something that should be shunned or looked on negatively, as it seems to be a battle unfought to bring homophobic views down to the level of sexist or racist ones, which have been more largely removed. If you really do disagree, then keep it to yourself, and keep the hardcore community as an open, friendly and forward-thinking one.
Ollie Doe, Chapels