Anarchy and Are You Gay?: Is Homosexuality Genetic in Punk?
From its inception, punk and gay culture have been intertwined due to both groups being ostracized and attacked, both physically and verbally, by mainstream culture. The epithets levied against punks either referenced DEVO, one of the few groups to gain mass exposure, or were homophobic in content. While gay culture and punk have been synonymous for some since the 1970s, their synonymous nature has only been acknowledged and not explored fully. Even the word “punk” has its roots in homosexuality, meaning a male who is raped in prison. While it is not possible to address every overlap between the gay and punk subcultures in this paper, its exploration begins mapping where the two groups interact. The study begins with an explanation of subculture, filtered through Dick Hebdige’s Subculture, and a subculture’s relation to larger society. The focus then shifts specifically to punk rock and the homosexual nature of several of the threads that historically formed it, such as the LGBTQ classification of the Beat writers from whom the movement took inspiration, as well as the subversion of male and female gender norms ushered in by the glamrock movement. Attention is given to reactions within and outside the subculture, both positive, like the support shown Jayne County after her attack by “Handsome Dick” Manitoba and negative, such as the homophobia expressed by the Bad Brains. Lastly, visual expressions of the overlaps between gay and punk subculture, given wide exposure via David Bowie and those coming after are also addressed.
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