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Gay History of Indie Rock

  • July 5, 2023
  • 3 min read
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Gay History of Indie Rock

Gay indie rockers, gay rock, lgbt rock, the smiths

The history of gay representation in indie rock is rich and diverse, with numerous LGBTQ+ musicians making significant contributions to the genre. While it would be impossible to cover every artist and their impact, I can provide you with an overview of some key moments and figures in the gay history of indie rock.

  1. The Smiths: The Smiths, led by the openly gay frontman Morrissey, emerged in the 1980s as one of the most influential indie rock bands. Their music often contained themes of homosexuality, alienation, and outsider identity, resonating with many LGBTQ+ fans.
  2. Pansy Division: Formed in the early 1990s, Pansy Division is often regarded as the first openly gay punk rock band. Their songs unabashedly addressed gay themes, sexuality, and queer experiences, challenging stereotypes and providing a voice for the LGBTQ+ community within the indie rock scene.
  3. Sleater-Kinney: While not exclusively a gay band, Sleater-Kinney featured openly gay member Carrie Brownstein. Known for their raw and feminist-driven sound, the band gained popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, influencing a new generation of indie rock musicians.
  4. Tegan and Sara: The Canadian indie rock duo Tegan and Sara, consisting of twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin, have been active since the late 1990s. Their music often explores themes of love, identity, and same-sex relationships, and they have become prominent figures in both the indie rock and LGBTQ+ communities.
  5. Against Me!: Led by transgender singer and songwriter Laura Jane Grace, Against Me! gained recognition in the punk and indie rock scenes. Grace’s coming out as transgender in 2012 brought increased visibility to transgender issues within the indie rock world.
  6. Perfume Genius: Perfume Genius, the stage name of musician Mike Hadreas, has been hailed for his introspective and emotionally charged indie rock music. His albums often touch on themes of queerness, addiction, and resilience, and he has become a celebrated figure in the LGBTQ+ music community.
  7. LGBTQ+ Music Festivals and Events: Various music festivals and events have emerged specifically to celebrate LGBTQ+ representation in indie rock and related genres. Examples include San Francisco’s Homo A Go Go, Los Angeles’ Queercore Festival, and the Queer Music Festival in Brooklyn, providing platforms for queer indie rock artists to showcase their talent.

These are just a few examples of the many LGBTQ+ musicians who have left their mark on indie rock. The genre continues to evolve, and LGBTQ+ artists are continuing to shape its sound and narratives, adding their unique perspectives and experiences to the broader musical landscape.

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About Author

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. ChrisRyanNYC.com won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

1 Comment

  • So glad to see you do this listing. I want to let you know about an amazing LA band from the 90’s called Extra Fancy, featuring openly gay lead singer, Brian Grillo (his 3 bandmates were all straight).

    They had a huge indie following, then a short time on Atlantic Records. They reated this music video for the single “Sinnerman”, and 6 weeks later — the label “inexplicably” dropped them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDIH84U3-Gg

    Anyway, this got aired on MTV’s 120 Minutes a few times before they got the ax. And you’ll see how radical and ballsy this was — for 1996! — as there had never been this kind of homoerotic imagery in a rock music video before. And the male preacher is actor Alexis Arquette (many years before he transitioned to a woman).

    Anyway, enjoy. Also too, the band finally got all their music on Spotify if you wanna have a listen. They had some pretty fantastic songs.

    https://open.spotify.com/artist/5jgxiTJ0KpGzDGUWOdzGNo

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