For my activist history project, I conducted a very brief over view of some of my favorite queer punk bands. I used the lens of J. Jack Halberstam’s Queer time and space in order to look at what a non-heteronormative life cycle makes space for: queer spaces, to be exact. Queer time is basically the refusal of normative, heterosexual life, and instead of the stages that people go through in a heterosexual life cycle, (like get married, have 2.5 children, raise children, grow up in suburbia, do it all over again with their children), queer time allows for non- normative growth for non normative individuals. When queer time creates space for queer and feminist art to bloom, activism is cultivated. Art as a form of activism is vital for queer activists, as much of the narrative of our lives can be contextualized and conveyed through music.
Queerness in the punk scene is what I began this journey with. Queercore and homocore are spaces that I began to look at as non-normative subgroups that gave space to grapple with the discontent of societal norms surrounding queer lives. Gay men and queer individuals are able to express their identities within this punk and queer subculture. the one downside to this space is that homocore, just like punk in general, is a highly mascinulaized scene. It is much more difficult for women and genderqueer individuals to break through within this scene.
To combat this remaining problem with patriarchal influences in queer spaces, I looked into another Queercore punk band, this time a local scene. Imaginary Hockey Leauge is a punk queercore band fronted by UMBC student ( soon to be alumnus) Chaz Atkinson.
Chaz uses they/them or xe/xem pronouns and identifies as trans. IHL focuses on identity, youth culture, personal growth, gender, and overall human complexity within their songs. IHL also uses social media platforms to discuss trans issues, as well as the music itself as a way of doing activism through art.
I also spent a moment discussing Riot Grrrl, a music punk subculture emphasising third-wave feminism, female empowerment and queer theory. Riot Grrrl includes some queercore bands, and focuses on DIY Zine production with feminist and activist messages. Riot Grrrl is a space for diverse feminist expression, as well as a safe haven for women and femme individuals.
The Riot Grrrl band that I focused on specifically as Sleater- Kinney, a feminist riot dyke/ riot grrrl band featuring Corin Tucker, Carrie Browenstein and Janet Weiss. Sleater- Kinney makes it a point to spread feminist awareness and perform activism while also performing music. There is also a lot of queer representation within this band, and Sleater- Kinney produced the soundtrack for the documentary !Women Art Revolution by Lynn Hershman Leeson, which shows activism in praxis.
This all comes together in the end is that Queer Femme punks are able to live within queer time and queer spaces and provide spaces for feminist thought and activism. Living within a queer femme subculture allows for a critical lens towards gender roles and heteronormativity, and gives queer punks a space to deconstruct these roles within the practice of activism.