Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Day Without Gay

Darby Crash 1977
Did punk rock homophobia push Darby Crash over the edge? - a documentary in production poses that question

I was completely surprised to hear that the campy Hollywood restaurant, El Coyote - where so many of us punk rockers hung out and had our first restaurant cocktails without being carded - was the target of a boycott. Seems that the restaurant's owner donated money through her (Mormon) church to support California's Proposition 8, the bill seen as hateful legislation banning gay marriage.

Being a couple thousand miles away from LA, I learned about this by reading it on the internet, so it must be true. I do find it terribly ironic that El Coyote, a haven for hipsters - gay and straight alike, underground anti-hero icons and the truly famous (the late Sharon Tate; current matinee idol George Clooney) - would have an owner who didn't think first about her business! Its weirdly un-Republican (and I am presuming she is a Republican, being a Mormon and supporting Prop 8 are just signs.... I could be wrong, but give me some editorial leeway / poetic license here) not to think of business first. Then again, its very Republican to think of self first... Here's a stupid question: are there any gay Republicans?

Lance Loud
The Ever Fabulous Lance Loud

I'm sure there will be plenty of people dropping me a line to tell me that it wasn't so gay-friendly back in the 70s either. Yes and no.

Punk rock's double-edged sword of outsider camaraderie and anti-mainstream outlook took a step back when it came to sexual tolerance. Mostly, I'd have to say that my West Hollywood crowd seemed to be accepting of one another's idiosyncrasies... but as the years go by, I see that I wasn't seeing the whole picture.

Lance Loud, famous for being himself and for coming out to his mother on national television on the first ever reality show before that was a genre - An American Family - was openly and flamboyantly gay... and he was much-loved and highly regarded, as were his band mates, who were both gay and straight. Yes, gays and straights could definitely play well together... and gave everyone in the audience someone to swoon over.

kevin kiely backstage at the whisky a go go
Mumps bassist Kevin Kiely, fondly known to Pleasant and me sometimes as "Kate"

Back in the day... when I was a wee lass in high school, I admired them from afar, Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman, whose own journey away from suburban Southern California to NYC inspired me to take a similar path. Whether they knew it or not, they were a sort of anti-hero to me in our land of beautiful, blonde future soccer moms and tennis pros. They were musicians; art geeks; they liked glam rock and David Bowie... how could a girl not love them?

xtian serenades lance
Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud

I'm proud to say that Lance referred to us as the Liz Taylors of our generation.

wrede pic4myspace
Pleasant, Lance and me - two hags and their favorite fag

plz randy sf BW
The late Randy Kaye and Pleasant in San Francisco - a Blondie road trip

It is the greatest understatement to say that a day without gay is a day woefully absent of wit, culture and the greatest creativity. "A Day Without Gay" is also an action - a peaceful protest designed to show how empty everyday life would be without the contributions of our gay population. Call in sick, but say instead that you're calling in gay.

Lobotomy, the brainless magazine was conceived of by Pleasant and Randy, worked on by them and me and Kid Congo Powers, plus a few of our other friends, all of whom have gone on to become respected in the choice of their career. But pretty much, it was a couple of hags with their favorite fags and I say that in the most loving of ways. And I want to stress the success story aspect of the class of Lobotomy... Pleasant, Randy, Kid, Brad Dunning, Anna Statman...

kid plz
Kid Congo Powers and Pleasant - backstage on another Blondie road trip

While we wrote about our friends in Lobotomy, our friends turned out to have been worth the typewriter ribbon and photocopying we spent on them.

joan billy
Joan Jett, Billy Idol and Pleasant

Turns out our friends also became icons or role models for the gay community as well.

belinda plz rosemarie
Belinda Carlisle, Pleasant and Wyline - punk rock's IT GIRLS

Go Go Belinda Carlisle is an icon to gay men and boys and is the mother of an openly gay son. That's not to say she is not also a role model for young ladies of either persuasion.

Hard to believe that guys dress up and pretend to be the likes of Belinda, and the coolest blonde of all, Debbie Harry! But its all good.

debbie waving

I am not even beginning to scratch the surface of the gay contribution to punk rock and underground culture. Please check out A Day Without Gay and think about how you will help get the government's nose out of people's marriages.

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