My Top 10 Queer Tunes

Music, along with sex, has been an important factor in my life. It influenced my politics and makes me feel like I’m not alone when I’m having a dark day, or even a good day. It comforts me to know someone more talented than me has managed to put into words, and then into music, exactly how I am feeling.  Music has been particularly important to me when I have been thinking about my own sexuality and gender. When I was a teenager trying to figure out why I wasn’t quite like all my straight friends, music was a vital refuge. There are more and more bands out there speaking out about LGBT+ rights, and gender issues in general (and no, I don’t mean that straight Thrift Shop guy with his tear jerker about Gay Marriage, who actually steals music from queer artists). There are queer bands shouting angrily about the discrimination the queer and trans communities face. There a queer bands adopting music styles usually equated with straight, ultra masculinity and saying “I’m fucking queer and I rock as hard as you do!”. There are queer bands poking fun at homophobia and bigotry, who make you laugh as much as they make you think.

Here’s just a few of my favourite queer tunes from a few of my favourite bands, in no particular order. I’ve tried to avoid the widely known musicians (although don’t get me wrong, I fucking love the Scissor Sisters and Against Me!) to showcase something you may have not heard before. I hope you’ll click the links and give them a listen. Clicking the images will take you to the album the particular song was taken from, if the band have a bandcamp, or it will take you to their official website. Hopefully you’ll get some enjoyment out of a few of them, whatever your particular music taste.

Heterosexuality is a construct by ONSIND

onsind

Onsind (or One Night Stand in North Dakota: a reference to appalling anti abortion laws in that state) are a two-piece political acoustic band from Durham, UK. Their lyrics and songs are always on point and cover a range broad of political issues. I’m particularly interested in their feminist songs (they have a great song called that takes ovaries, and have a whole mini album on interesting portrayals of women in films). What is really cool about Onsind is they are incredibly smart, they manage to take these really complex issues like gender inequality and make their point in a way that’s fun and accessible to most people. If you manage to catch them live (which I have been lucky enough to) you’ll hear a crowd of happy fans singing along. The song I’ve chosen for this post is “Heterosexuality is a construct”. It’s about not identifying as straight and combating the ridicule and discrimination that comes along with that. Like all Onsind songs it has a really clear message that I can really get behind “Love knows no gender, and it’s about time you all stopped being assholes to queer people”.  Give it a listen on their bandcamp linked below.

Lyrics: 

Homophobes are terrified to admit that during their lives, there have been moments where they’ve wavered in their minds,
One more comment, one more joke, I won’t accept it, I won’t tolerate intolerance this time,

I’m not a heterosexual man, I’m not ticking your boxes, that’s not who I am, I don’t fit into your neat little plan, and I never will.

Jesus Christ, I’m done with it, you narrow minded piece of shit, I’d sooner cut off my own dick than be like you. Did that make you uncomfortable, is your macho pride in trouble now, when you’ve beaten me up, then what will you do?

I’m not a heterosexual man, I’m not ticking your boxes, that’s not who I am, I don’t fit into your neat little plan, and I never will.

Love is not a crime, and I’d rather colour, outside of the lines, love knows no gender and it’s about time, you nailed your colours up next to mine.

Hear it on Onsind’s Bandcamp page here

F U Str8 Boy by Kinky

kinky

Kinky are a fast punk band who have coined their own term for their particular brand of music as “Sissy Mosh”. Every time I’ve seen them live their catchy lyrics and fast tunes will have everyone shouting along with them in no time. The songs are short and sweet with a clear story or message. Most of the time that message is an in-your-face unapologetic queerness. They won’t stand for abuse, and are willing to physically fight against homophobia and discrimination. F U Str8 Boy is one of my favourites, there’s something so empowering about a room of people shouting “FUCK YOU STRAIGHT BOY!” in unison. Have a listen to the tune in the link below.

Lyrics:

Went for a Pint at the Stag and Hound
What’s with all these straight boys hanging around
This ain’t my scene, I don’t feel safe
Get me a Faggot or a Pretty Fairy
Cuz your macho talk makes me feel sick
Lets leave this place and get some dick
Fuck you straight boy
Straight boy fuck you!

Hear it on Kinky’s Bandcamp here

Spa Day by LE1F

le1f

LE1F is a fantastic queer American hip hop artist from New York City. Most of his songs are full of in your face lyrics about being black, gay and fucking brilliant. He takes the style usually used by straight, masculine rappers and unapologetically flipps it to be all about being queer. His lyrics are both challenging and entertaining (a lot of the time it’s about how all the men want to fuck him, and some of those guys are racist as shit). He’s also a fabulous dancer, I highly recommend checking his moves out on some of his official You Tube videos. It was difficult for me to pick just one of his tracks, he has so many with great lines in it. I went with Spa Day because it has a great positive and powerful LGBT message, and it’s funny as fuck (how I interpret it is the whole point is that a man enjoying a fucking spa day is revolutionary, which is both ridiculous and simultaneously sadly accurate). Check out the lyrics and click the link below to hear the tune and watch the video on You Tube.

Lyrics:

I’m fabulous like duhduh duhduh dudduh
I be that gully nigga looking sexy in the winter
Niggas wanna flex and buy me dinner. I don’t mean to hurt
Feelings but I’m only out chea for the winners
Beast mode, all my niggas in feast mode with the
Manicured toes and the pedicured souls
Oh, judduno ju dunno?
We taking spa days check my new god flow
Fire like a cannonball. Watch me like cholesterol
Peep how your man wants to eat it like a kati roll
Easily i’m in the zone. Finna take your nigga home
I’m not a yoga master but he wanna see my body fold
Get the floormats; this that lay-back music
You know I love to slay it how the gangstas do it
Tell your phobic homeys they should get into it
Unless they not feeling ready for the revolution and shit
I’m feeling totally rejuvenated
If you’re feeling bad vibes, man, I’m unrelated
Oh, you mad I’m the bomb super saiyan?
I’m saying…I’m that high top faded.
Nigga, it’s a spa day
Ooh la la, mazel tov. What can I say?
Now what you wanna do?
And who you wanna do it with?
Me? That’s cute. okay!
Niggas thirst. Birds they chirp
I just do my best. I’m a jerk, I’m a flirt, I’m the best
Yes bitch, i’m blessed, never cursed
I’m on that triple x. I’m extreme. I’m the worst
I’m a fly bird flapping out the coupe. Beaucoup niggas salute
Dudes just wanna bring me home like the troops
Oops, oh my. I’m too fly
When I bat my batty boy eyes ya man cried
Honestly, the truth is in my pudding
I’mma show him things that her crystal ball wouldn’t
I stay juking no pussyfooting
My bush is burning that got him looking but
It’s no testament to my character
Catch me in the cut eating apples with your pastor
Allahu Akbar I’m feeling like a rockstar
In the parking lot smoking weed in a parked car
I’m cooly just chilling in my nook with a lookbook
When I butterfly, passersby look and get shook
They really wanna taste, wanna bite what this chef cooks
Trick, I ain’t no rookie. Peep my tootsi roll and left hook
I’m the number one panty dropper
Make her man wanna go and get his choppa
But we don’t want no problems
Cuz like a mathematician quickly I solve em
I make her Man wanna leave her and lick the johnson
Finna wanna make it hot like in a sauna
I dissolve ‘em; make him catch the vapors
Trust and believe, I’m purple raining on ‘em haters

Hear / watch it on YouTube here.

Binary by The Spook School

spook

The Spook School are a queer Scottish pop punk band who’s songs often explore issues of gender and sexuality. One of their members is a transman and I think a lot of the lyrics come from his own experiences. I’ve seen them live many times and they speak about difficult and important issues in such a fun and joyful way, it gets the whole room dancing and singing along. Binary is one of my favourite songs to chant along with a room full of lovely queer-friendly folk. It is about the falseness of gender binary, with a clear message: “you are more than your gender. Don’t let people force you to conform to the binary.” This is a positive message we should all get behind, not just because it was recently Transgender day of Remembrance, but because this is important everyday and for all genders. Have a listen and a singalong using the link below.

Lyrics:

You are not a computer
You are complex and undefined
So why let yourself be limited to binary desires?
To binary identities and binary ideals
Like switching on or switching off
choosing a bow-tie or high-heels

But the world tells us (01 01 01 01 01)
No we are not (01 01 01 01 01)
Body or head not (01 01 01 01 01)
Capacity for love not (01 01 01 01 01)

So let it be complicated
and hard to understand
You know they would envy you
If they got their heads out of the sand
So make them uncomfortable
and challenge their ideals
because those antiquated notions
are blinding what is real

I am bigger than a hexadecimal

Hear it on The Spook School’s Bandcamp here

I Do not Have the Power to Cause a Flood by Grace Petrie

grace

Grace Petrie is a revolutionary folk singer, and a lot of her songs are about LGBT rights, British politics and more personal stories about her own experiences as a lesbian woman. This particular song was inspired by when a British Politician from the far right party UKIP said that widespread flooding and storms were divine retribution for gay marriage. Grace’s musical response to this particular insult is priceless. Basically the message is “If I had the power to cause a flood all you homophobic assholes would know about it by now!” Read the lyrics and listen to the song linked below for a giggle and some reflection.

Lyrics:

I do not have the power to cause a flood
I’m not like Storm from X-men who so easily could
Manipulate the weather, causing havoc where she stood
But if I had the power to cause a flood, I would

Oh I’d send a flood to Russia right to Putin’s door,
The waves of my destruction spanning miles,
To wash away the prejudice and then never more would he make
Statements that equate us all to pedophiles
But instead give all Pussy Riot a dame-hood

If I only had the power to cause a flood
Oh I’d send one to Uganda where Museveni says
Gay and bi and trans-abnormals need a cure
And until he finds one he’s content to throw them all in jail
A life sentence of repentance but you can be sure that
Museveni definitely would
Know it if I had the power to cause a flood
And for Jeremy Clarkson, it’s all just a bit of fun
For our highly paid celebrities, to use language of bigotry,
And then make no apology, because no one sees a link between
The things he thinks it’s fine to tweet, and people yelled at in the street
And kids abused in every school, and the time my windows were bricked through
And Putin and Museveni, for UKIP and for Jeremy, and banter from the Top Gear lads,
Yeah it’s PC gone fucking mad and that’s all just fine and good

But if I had the power to cause a flood – you can bet I would

Hear it on Grace Petrie’s Bandcamp here

I Love Hardcore Boys, I Love Boys Hardcore by Limp Wrist

limp

Limp Wrist are an American Hardcore band. If you don’t know what that means, think really raw shouty screaming punk. It’s fast, aggressive and it pulls no punches. Hardcore has got a reputation as being for really ultra masculine macho guys, who go all out on the image and aggression of the fast and sweaty gigs. What’s really cool about Limp Wrist is they’re queer. They’re challenging all of the stereotypes of gay men out there, by shouting aggressively at this room full of mainly straight guys about how much they want to fuck them. Seriously, this whole song is about wanting to have sex with punk and hardcore guys. The song pulls no punches, and I think the main message was “if this makes you uncomfortable that’s your fucking problem”. I love it.

Lyrics:

Tight pants and wallet chains
hooded sweats and adidas drive me insane

Dread-locked crusties are hot and can´t be beat
just double up the condom and stay away from their feet

I love hardcore boys, I love boys hardcore

Bi-hawks and studs are really hot
Emo kids whine but I´ll give em a shot
Tight pants skinheads with bodies that stack
This whole damn scene makes my eyes roll back

I love hardcore boys, I love boys hardcore

I love hardcore boys it´s too good to be true
One on one or the whole damn crew
It´s exciting so let´s give it a whirl
I love hardcore boys cuz they make my toes curl

Romulan-looking Justin clones got style
But sport wearing edgers are whom we´d like to pile
After being with a peace punk in black
We´re definite that you´re never turning back

I love hardcore boys, I love boys hardcore

Hear it on Limp Wrist’s Bandcamp here

Sleeping Beauty by Martha

martha

Martha are a pop punk band from Durham including members of Onsind mentioned above. They’re songs are fun to dance to and generally upbeat. Included in the band are a brother and sister, and the song Sleeping Beauty tells the story of two children who are being forced into normative gender roles that they are not interested in. The girl wants to play rugby and run around outside and the boy who would sometimes like to stay in and watch Sleeping Beauty. I love this song because the end is really sweet; the kids make a pact to switch roles in their games when there aren’t adults watching. It’s such a simple tale that many kids could probably tell, and it reminds us to be mindful of how we treat children differently because of their sex. We should really stop doing that.

Lyrics:

 

Oh brother I would swap my Wendy House for your spud gun any day
Your clothes for my clothes, I can’t get mine dirty anyway, you see
Your football boots
My football knees
I hate the shoes they bought for me
Inside gets boring but when I showed I had an interest in Rugby
They laughed at me.

Oh sister I would love your Wendy House
But I’ll keep my spud gun for today
They don’t hear me either, I can’t get a word in edgeways, you see
My football boots
Your football knees
If you’re not too cool
Come play with me
Outside gets boring but when I asked if I could watch Sleeping Beauty
They laughed at me.

But it’s alright, when no grown ups are around
You can still be Daphne and I’ll be Fred

Hear it on Martha’s Bandcamp here

That’s So Gay by Pansy Division

pansy

Pansy Division are an American Queer punk band with old school vibes (think Dead Kennedys or Descendants). A lot of their songs are about being gay, with clear lyrics and a catchy beat. They have a fantastic cover of Nirvana’s Smell’s Like Teen Spirit with the lyrics changed to have a queer meaning which I totally encourage you to check out. This particular song is about when the word “Gay” is used as an insult. It still so often is, very casually by a lot of people (I have often had battles with my sister over her casual use of Gay as an insult). Language is important, if we continue to equate the word “gay” as something bad it leads to the suggesting that being gay is something bad. In this song the Pansy Division have a good shout about calling out someone for saying “That’s so gay”. Check out the lyrics and the song on their bandcamp linked below.

Lyrics:

I heard what you said
I’m not stupid, you know
What do you take me for
Hetero?

The next time you say it
Make sure I can’t hear
‘Cause you’re pissing me off
Is that clear?

What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
And if you say it again
There’ll be hell to pay
I’ll show you
What it’s like to be gay

I heard what you said
“It’s just a figure of speech”
If you meant nothing by it
Practice what you preach

The next time you say it
You’d better think twice
‘Cause some pissed-off faggot
May not take it too nice

What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
And if you say it again
There’ll be hell to pay
I’ll show you
What it’s like to be gay

I heard what you said
I’m not stupid, you know
What’d you take me for?
(…Breeder)

The next time you say it
Make sure I can’t hear
‘Cause you’re pissing me off
And you’re not even queer!

What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
What’d he say
He said “that’s so gay”
And if you say it again
There’ll be hell to pay
I’ll show you
What it’s like to be gay

Hear it on Pansy Division’s Bandcamp here

Kings and Queens by Jesus and His Judgemental Father

jesus

Jesus and his Judgemental Father are an indie pop queer band from Leeds, UK. They write melodic catchy tunes that you can definitely have a dance about to. The new album (False sense of Maturity) is pretty chilled out with folky vibes (they even have a flute) and I can see most people enjoying their music. A lot of the songs are about relationships and really sweet. The song I’ve picked is called Kings and Queens and is about feeling safe presenting your gender however you want to in your scene, but once you leave that safe place you are confronted with a lot of judgement and hostility. This song also offers a needed reminder that the world is still a very unsafe place for trans and nonbinary folk, and we all need to work hard to make things better and offer our solidarity to all trans and nonbinary people. Although the message is heavy, it’s an upbeat and pop-y song, give it a listen using the link below.

Lyrics:

In the land outside this social scene
The streets are filled with the gender police
I guess the streets are no place for kings and queens
No the streets are no place for kings and queens

I live in a city, a friendly city I do
But it is a pity, some people still can be rude
Like the people that stop me in the street saying
What the fuck is that guy, is that some kind of freak
People in the street

I go out of a weekend, I stick with my friends
Some people be staring, I know what’s in their heads
They’re thinking
What are they doing with that kid, he’s too young to be in here
I think he should be in bed, that’s what in their heads

I read a news story, a woman beaten to death
Some fuckers had jumped her, but this is what the news said
It said the pre-op tranny wearing high heels handbag and a dress
Was walking home alone, from the gay-bar where HE sang
From the gay bar where HE sang

and so the land outside this social scene
The streets are filled with the gender police
I guess the streets are not SAFE for kings and queens
No the streets are not SAFE for kings and queens

Hear it on Jesus and His Judgemental Father’s Bandcamp here

Androgynous by The Replacements

replace

I’m going back in time with this one, taking a break from the shiny new bands. This song is by The Replacements, a 1980’s American rock band.  Androgynous was track on their album “Let it be” which came out in 1984, before I was even born! It’s slower and quieter than the rest of their music, with the melody carried by a piano. It’s also been covered a lot, but this is the original. Although I’m not sure if any band members were queer, they seem to have been allies to the queer scene at least, and they sometimes cross dressed to perform under the name “Jefferson’s Cock”. What I really love about this song is the optimism, the message is clear: “Tomorrow who’s going to give a shit about how you choose to present your gender or sexuality?” I’m not sure when this “tomorrow” the replacements envisioned is hoped to occur, but we’re certainly not there yet. Hopefully someday soon. I want to leave you with this message: tomorrow who’s going to fuss? Give it a listen on the link below.

Lyrics:

Here come Dick, he’s wearing a skirt
Here comes Jane, y’know she’s sporting a chain
Same hair, revolution
Same build, evolution
Tomorrow who’s gonna fuss
And they love each other so
Androgynous
Closer than you know, love each other so
Androgynous

Don’t get him wrong and don’t get him mad
He might be a father, but he sure ain’t a dad
And she don’t need advice that’ll center her
She’s happy with the way she looks
She’s happy with her gender

Mirror image, see no damage
See no evil at all
Kewpie dolls and urine stalls
Will be laughed at
The way you’re laughed at now

Now, something meets Boy, and something meets Girl
They both look the same
They’re overjoyed in this world
Same hair, revolution
Unisex, evolution
Tomorrow who’s gonna fuss
And tomorrow Dick is wearing pants
And tomorrow Janie’s wearing a dress
Future outcasts and they don’t last
And today, the people dress the way that they please
The way they tried to do in the last centuries

(Jefferson’s Cock)

Hear it on You Tube here

 

I hope you’ve had fun listening to some of my queer tune choices. Obviously this is only a small selection of what I happen to have been exposed to and enjoyed. There are a lot more queer bands out there, too many for me to name and showcase them all. I tried to focus on songs with a clear queer message, rather than songs that from bands that identify as queer in some way. I’d really love it if people have more great tunes to add to this list. I’m encouraging you to comment below and add your suggestions. Being in the UK it’s not surprising that most of the artists I’ve included are british, with a few from the USA thrown in. I’d love to have some recommendations of queer bands from further afield.

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