Annotated Bibliography #1: Anti-Assimilation

Errea, Lauren. "Queercore: A Musical Declaration of Queer Pride." Daily Californian February 8, 2002, Print.

Author Lauren Errea, of the Daily Californian, begins this article by asking this question: "Queer. Insult, compliment, or declaration of pride?" She thinks if you were to ask Jon Ginoli, of the band Pansy Division, his answer would be the latter. Pansy Division is an all-gay rock band from San Francisco and one of the many numerous bands that could be considered "queercore." Queercore is the crossbreeding of the gay and punk scenes of the early nineties. Both queer culture and punk rock culture are subversive to mainstream culture and challenge norms in society. Errea continues to detail the career of Pansy Division in this article, explaining how the band got started, and how they are trying to spread the message about gay issues through their shows. One fan described a Pansy Division show he attended, "It was crazy. They used blow up dolls and all sorts of crazy gimmicks you don't normally see on stage. They're definitely not hiding anything." The article also mentions a few other queercore bands such as Tribe 8, Panty Raid, and Erase Errata. Tribe 8 is noted to have written a song about gay adolescents who kill themselves after being ridiculed by their parents. Errea concludes the article by explaining that not all gay people embrace the anti-assimilationist tactics that these queercore bands use, and that they are still quite confrontational.

This article is relevant to my term, anti-assimilation, because this is the sort of strategy that these queercore bands employ. They use confrontational, in your face lyrics, and a shocking stage presence to educate and inform people about queer issues. As the article plainly states "queer punk is about anti-assimilation. It's about using music as a medium to show people a way of life they never new before."

du Plessis, Michael, and Kathleen Chapman. "Queercore: The Distinct Identities of Subculture." Queer Utilities: Textual Studies, Theory, Pedagogy, Praxis. 24.1 (1997): 45-58.

This article begins by introducing the 1995 post-grunge band, Garbage, who had a song titled "Queer" although none of the members of the band identified as queer. The message that the song seems to proclaim is that the term queer is no longer anything special. The authors are not sure if this is true or not, but decide to focus on the queer subcultures before the 1995 song was released, especially between 1989 and 1993. The queercore culture consisted of a variety of media such as fanzines, records, clubs, music, videos, and some novels. This culture was in opposition to middle class gay and lesbian organizations like GLAAD and established an "us versus them" mentality. Queercore was created through an allegiance with the post-punk subculture and queer. The authors compare queercore to avant gardes as they are both used to subvert norms. The functions of queercore are to "deny legitimacy to the public sphere, to stress internal coherence around its own proper differences, and to turn to the networks created by queerzines, clubs, music and other subcultural practices so that a counter-public sphere can be created." The queercore culture highly values secret codes and signs through their lyrics and band names, to help build coherence within their subculture. The authors then detail several bricolages that members of the queercore culture have created through things like autobiographies. One example of such a bricolage is that of Vaginal Davis, black drag queen whose lyrics and zines include controversial lyrics and in your face declarations such as "When they see a woman like me, they can't deal, so they dismiss me, but I'm way too big to be dismissed!" du Plessis and Chapman say that "Davis will not let anyone rest comfortably with an assimiable presence." Queercore has allowed many disenfranchised groups, such as people of color, transsexuals, transgender people, and bisexuals, a space to stake their claim more than just "gay and lesbian" culture could.

This article relates to my term, anti-assimilation, because queercore is an anti-assimilationist culture. The whole point of it is to have a separate space for people who identify as queer and can express themselves through music, zines, and other forms of media. Queercore is distinctly separating themselves from mainstream culture and using their "in your face" lyrics and performances to challenge societal norms. One example of this is Fertile La Toyah's appearance in Vaginal Davis's video zine where she insists that all life in the U.S. is defined by racism and says "We ain't all one big happy family like the little birdies! Fuck that shit!" and is seen wearing a t-shirt with the words "I'VE HAD 21 ABORTIONS" on it.

Youtube video of queercore band, Tribe 8: "Femme Bitch Top." Tribe 8. Youtube. 1995.

This video is a music video for the queercore band, Tribe 8. This "dyke punk" band is known for their controversial lyrics and stage presence. Lead singer, Lynn Breedlove is known to have performed shirtless, wearing a rubber dildo. This video depicts images of lesbian sex and S & M and includes a topless Lynn Breedlove. I think this video epitomizes the anti-assimlationist strategies used by queercore bands of the nineties; it uses direct in your face lyrics and images to subvert norms.