Sound of our Revolution | June 2021: Pride is a Protest

Contributed by Jonny Collins

It’s June, you know what that means! It’s the time of the year when cis white gays and straight women get to listen to bland 90s pop and not think about the continued systemic oppression of LGBTQIA+ people in their very own neighbourhood!

Pride Month is a very important time of year for celebrating the progress that has been made ever since the Stonewall Riots in ’69, and yes, things are measurably better for Gay people in 2021. However it is also a time of year to shine a light on the continued oppression of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and especially Trans people in so called ‘Civilized’ western countries to this day, and demonstrate against legislation and campaigns designed to role back rights to be worse than it was during the Thatcher and Major years.

I feel like a lot of people, including my fellow queers, often forget that Pride is, was, and always should be a protest first and foremost, with of course celebration and acknowledgement over what has been achieved.

Gay Marriage was not the be all and end all of queer liberation. (And that is only legal in just under 15% of the countries in the world). Homo and transphobic hate crime in the UK is still rampant, there is a co-ordinated attack in both the UK and large parts of the US to undermine trans rights and freedoms under the guise of feminism, leading to catastrophic rates of inadequate healthcare for Trans people, suicides and homocides with anti LGBT motivations.

If you’re not queer, it’s very difficult to appreciate just how bad things are for Queer people right now. So please, if you consider yourself an ally; listen to your queer friends and colleagues. Support our protests, call out your homophobic family members or work colleagues who cross the line. And come to pride events if you want.

Just remember that Pride is a Protest, not just a celebration and an excuse to get white girl wasted in gay clubs.

That being said – here is my curated “Pride is a Protest” playlist for Blizzard Comedy this month: Full of queer punk, soul, and hip-hop – protesting against queer oppression and yes, celebrating the wide variety of queer identities and figures around the world today.

Queer as in Fuck You – Dog Park Dissidents

“There’s no protection that this nation-state can offer to me
Just olive branches to the cis white gay bourgeoisie
So fuck off with your rainbow-striped American flags
The only colors that I need are the pink and the black

Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you”

What better way to start my anti corporate pride playlist than with queer punk icons Dog Park Dissidents?

Featured on my last playlist with Class Struggle, I was going to reprise that track as it is very thematically appropriate – but then I heard “Queer as in Fuck You” and I had to use this one instead. This song encapsulates all my feelings towards pride as a novelty pub crawl event – and the corporatization of a human rights protest that they only care about, as they’ve calculated that it makes their arbitrary numbers go up in reports around this time.

You want to celebrate a gay man on your cable TV
While trans lesbians of color dig in garbage just to eat
You’ve paved the road for CEOs to suck on some dick
While all the kids on the street are getting pelted with bricks

Don’t get me wrong – the fact that the broken capitalist hellscape we live in has deemed us profitable has gone a long way to enhancing our chances of survival for sure. But it doesn’t change the continued oppression of all queer people who aren’t attractive gay white men.

Tilting Against Windmills – Protest The Hero

“He’s proud to be straight, but like a host that feeds, bigotry inebriates.
No one’s ever been compromised for being a white, straight male with two blue eyes.”

Look at that – a song by straight allies? Who says you don’t get the recognition you believe you’re entitled to in queer spaces?

I’ve tried to limit this playlist to predominantly queer artists, but this song and band are a personal favourite of mine. And this track is an unapologetic queer solidarity anthem that has more than earned its place on this playlist.

While a lot of the bands on this playlist will go deeper into specific oppressions we face in the 21st century, this song is a powerful albeit basic refutation against religious gay oppression as a generalization. Also, it fucking slaps – seriously, probably my favourite post-progressive extreme metalcore pro-gay rights song of all time (and that’s a competitive title).

Boys Will Be Girls – We Are The Union

“We’ll take back the city tonight
The kids will be all right
Your old ways will die
In the darkest depths we’ll stand here in the light

Boys will be girls
And girls will be boys
And everybody in between
We’ll all be who we wanna be”

So between my partner and my co-founder of Blizzard Comedy, I have been basically indoctrinated into being a fan of Ska since the show started in 2019. And it turns out, the fourth wave of ska is full of queer bands and messages, and some of the best song writing I have ever experienced in both pop and alternative music.

We Are The Union are a delightfully talented and fun band, and honestly any of their songs off of this album could have made the cut. But this is the one I’ve been listening to non-stop since I’ve heard it, so I went for this one.

This trans anthem is a bouncy and upbeat smackdown of anti-trans rhetoric and celebration of the wide gender spectrum we have. Similar to something like Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” 15 odd years ago – except much deeper in the queer theory and experience.

I listen to this song whenever I’m sad, and it never fails to perk me back up, while also keeping me grounded in the fight. A perfect fit for this playlist.

God Save This Queen – Bimini

“And I said darling, ain’t you sick of showing off and acting tough?
Playing out the role that you’ve been handed from above
You’d be more secure if you could share a little love”

Possibly the newest song on this playlist – dropping earlier this month! Bimini Bon-Boulash was a runner-up in Drag Race UK (which already has its own history of transphobia) who grew up working class in the East of England. This debut single does not shy away from tackling LGBTQIA+phobia, class politics and the non-binary experience.

This blend of The Street’s style grime along with a bouncy pop-punk beat is such a cute and unique queer anthem, and I’m so happy we’re hearing more from working class trans voices – who are one of the most at-risk groups of hate crime in the country. Absolute hero.

I am Her – Shea Diamond

“I am Shea, she is me
We get down with our bad selves
Don’t care too much what other people say
I get along swell by my goddamn self
Never asked for no-one’s philosophy
It’s obvious I’m proud of me”

Another reprise from last month’s trans playlist – but Shea is a fucking queer icon so I feel no shame in making you all listen to this again. In fact as I’m writing this she’s just dropped a new track “Smile” which is equally fucking beautiful – but I’d already saved the playlist by that point. Hopefully I can blag a third queer theme and include that track then.

Regardless – this entire song is a powerful soul track affirming who she is, and how she came to accept and fight for it against the bigotry and oppression she faces every day. She is her, and she is proud of her. Honestly if you don’t tear up at this song, I don’t trust you.

Burn Me At The Stake – Backxwash

“Fuck it If they want me they can come get me
Got a tank is unleaded mixing that with a shank that’s blood shedded
All my life I been black in the fist up
Trans as I think of hitting the man in the mirror

So here I am burning on your cross
I’m still standing here bitches once there energy is gone
Check the letters in my palm, the message in my arm
I’ll rather perish for I leave you with a chance”

Taking a different approach with this track, rapper Backxwash has a hugely emotive poem about the experience of being a Black Trans woman, and defiant against her oppressors, repeating the refrain that she would rather die by their hand than rest or give up.

This is the shit that pride should be highlighting.

We all love getting wasted on 2 for 1 cocktails and £1.50 pints while dancing to very much straight cis women’s dance music – but nothing encapsulates what pride is for then trans people rapping about how they’d rather die than let their oppressors win.

Next time you hear someone claim “Why do we still need pride to be a protest? Gay rights are fine now.” tell them to listen to queer artists. Really listen, feel their experience. Then look us in the eye and tell us we don’t need to fight because we’ve already got all the rights we need.

Freak – Zand

“There’s no need to be scared
All the freaks are taking over and the binary’s dead

Baby it is so plain to see
I do not fuck with he or she
And there’s so many more like me
What a freak
Sorry if you don’t understand
I know exactly who I am
Pray that I won’t because I can
That’s not a girl and that’s not a man
What a freak”

Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of crossover between my Trans lib playlist and this one for obvious reasons. Freak by Zand is the non-binary anthem. Really embodying the weird sexy swamp monster aesthetic that we’re known for – while utterly owning themself and gently telling the cis that we’re here to stay.

Black Tie – Grace Petrie

“Get a postcard to my
Year 11 self in a year 11 hell
Darling, everything’s gonna be alright
No, you won’t grow out of it
You will find the clothes that fit
And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
No, you never will surrender
To that narrow view of gender
And there’s folks you’ve yet to meet
But you’re exactly up their street
And they’ve been waiting just as long
To hear someone sing this song
And better days are on their way
When it won’t matter what they say
On the labels, on the doors
You will figure out what’s yours

And girl, you’re gonna be so happy
And girl, you’re gonna be just fine”

Turns out this one makes me cry just reading it. Fuck. You all know Grace Petrie and why she’s great – heck I ended the trans liberation playlist on this track last time.

Trans allies like Grace Petrie are exactly what we need more of in the world.

Thank you for being perfect.

Parents – Yungblud

“My high hopes are getting low
Because these people are so old
The way they think about it all
If I tried, I would never know
My high hopes are getting low
But I know I’ll never be alone
It’s alright, we’ll survive
‘Cause parents ain’t always right”

CW: Mention of homophobic abuse and violence.

Ahh, I’ve wanted to have Yungblud on one of these playlists for about a year now.

Yungblud is the voice of a generation – unapologetically queer, an innovator and icon in a lot of modern pop-punk and emo rap, and this song and music video encapsulate it entirely. A lot of dark imagery in a very bouncy and cheerful song about parental and religious abuse – with one of the catchiest choruses on this playlist.

“Parents ain’t always right” on the surface may sound like a bit of a cringe teenage rebellion line . But given how much we’ve fucked up the country politically, the population and public health, as well as the whole fucking planet’s climate and ability to sustain life, Gen Z honestly have a good fucking point saying that.

I hope this is a sign that queerness in a couple of generations will be infinitely more accepted worldwide. We’ve already come a long way since the beginning of the century – hopefully by the end it’ll be basically illegal to be straight.

(I’m kidding, I don’t want to outlaw heterosexuality, I just think marriage should be a loving union between queer people – and I’ve yet to say a heterosexual couple that has convinced me that their love is anything other than a result of misguided lust and a lacking in domestic skills.)

(Dear Str8’s, this is all a subversion of queer oppression and done as a joke, please don’t get mad and cancel me with your hyper work straight accepting nonsense. My freedom of speech is more important than your right to exist, go cry about it elsewhere.)

(Just waiting for this to be taken out of context and seeing all the people moaning about wokeness and cancel culture going to far supporting my imprisonment tbh, die mad.)

Glad to Be Gay – Tom Robinson Band

“Lie to your workmates, lie to your folks
Put down the queens, tell anti-queer jokes
Gay Lib’s ridiculous, join their laughter
‘The buggers are legal now, what more are they after?’”

Got a throwback here – this Tom Robinson classic protest against the WHO’s classification of Homsexuality as a disease at the time – and a little swing tune about the queer experience in the 70s (spoilers, it wasn’t great).

Worryingly – while the WHO line is out of date, a lot of the lyrics in this song aren’t. Queer kids are still beat up routinely, queer venues are still getting shut down etc. Things are better since the recording of this song for sure, but only marginally. If a protest song from 50 odd years ago is still relevant, you know things are still rough.

We’re The Cool Kids – Ryan Cassata

“Keep it up
We can dance all night
Don’t stop
We’ll be winning this fight
Rise up
Till the sun comes up and the sun comes up
Keep it up
We can dance all night
Don’t stop
We’ll be winning this fight
Rise up
Till the sun comes up and the sun comes up”

Finishing off with another reprise from the Trans playlist – Ryan Cassata’s “We’re the Cool Kids” is another generation defining queer anthem. An upbeat yet determined celebration of queer youths and a motivational message of persistence and hope that we are going to win this fight. Not today, maybe not soon, but we will.

So to everyone reading this, whatever flavour of queer you are, you are a hero just for being you. Keep it up, and straight allies, keep supporting and protecting us. We will be winning this fight. ❤

You can listen to these track, as well as other songs by: Worriers, Bones UK, Onsind and more here on YouTube and here on Spotify.

And get ready for our show on the 28th June with Guest host Ben Hodge, Team Captains Kirstie Summers & Thom Bee, with special guests Sully O’Sullivan, Sam Serrano, Dian Cathal and Kat Molinari!

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