by Mike Enders
This is an opinion piece and will no doubt piss someone off. But if I bite my tongue anymore about this, it’ll be bitten right in half. For years now I have been extremely disappointed in my communities support of LGBTQ musicians. Just this past week I saw two knockout shows that were shamefully under attended.
Last night just drove the stake through my heart and I feel the need to express myself. I hustled my ass out to San Francisco’s El Rio to see UK queer/pop/punk/political musician Ste McCabe, who is in the states touring for the first time. His performance was passionate and powerful, with a worldy message of political unrest. A performance I would have gladly paid good money to see. In his face you could see that he felt in his soul, every word coming through his lips. Poking at his dissatisfaction with his government, family values, the treatment of LGBT people. A performance that should have had a sold-out arena on it’s feet giving a standing ovation. But instead, as I looked over my shoulder, to enthusiastically catch eyes with someone, and give the “Can you fucking believe how awesome he is!” look, there were maybe 12 people standing there. A huge shout-out to Ste McCabe who is a huge force to be reckoned with, with important, punk-rage fueled powerful messages that need to be heard by our community and the world at large.
Granted he’s from out of town, out of country. He had an impressive interview in San Francisco’s largest gay publication B.A.R. this week which was spread all over town, every bar, every coffee-house, and of course Accidental Bear helped toot Ste McCabe’s horn to get the word out. And still a dismal turnout. Quite frankly I was embarrassed. Come on people, what does it take to get you to come out and support talented touring LGBTQ musicians? No, seriously what does it take? I have thrown this topic around the table with many of my queer musician friends. It seems like the only thing that we have come up with that will pack a bar is an attractive DJ, regardless of his talent, go-go boys, and a drag queen from Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Is that all the gay community is? I mean, all of those things have their place, but I expect more. We are more.
What stabs at my heart is that, last night as I was watching this killer live performance with a shamefully under attended few, down the road in San Francisco’s Castro and SOMA districts, there were wall to wall packed gay bars , with mediocre at best DJs pushing buttons on their Mac computers, playing their remixes of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and other “divas,” while close to naked go-go boys shake their asses in between checking their rentboy.com messages, booking appointments for after the bar closes. No offense, I have a lot of go-go boy friends and they will tell you this is true. Is this all the gay community wants? Another bar, under another name, with another theme, a fetish of the week.
Out lesbian Mary Lambert is making some head way herself in the music world. But would anyone even care unless she did that one song with Macklemore. Out rock legend Bob Mould, who has been fronting influential rock bands for decades is truly a gay icon, yet a large part of the LGBT community only know him from his dance party Blowoff.
Who knows, maybe people don’t actually know how to support queer artists. It’s quite simple. Yes, liking their Facebook Page and following them on Twitter has benefits for keeping up on the latest news. But how you really support these hard-working, touring queer musicians is, you purchase their music and merchandise, but most importantly, you GO to their live performances when they come to your town, even if it’s in a slightly inconvenient neighborhood for you.
If we don’t support our own, who will?