Queercore: How to Punk A Revolution by Yony Leyser, is one of the docos screening at this year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival, showing a different side to LGBTQI, a QueerPunk side.The film is cultural archaeology in search of a subculture that was grown out of necessity, a movement led by two very outrageous Queers of Canadian extraction: film maker Bruce La Bruce and artist/musician G.B Jones.
The movie leaps from early 1980s when Punk as serious art was considered dead and New Wave was the palatable pop, assimilating all the gays and lesbians who were tossing aside their radical 70’s roots and were, instead, adopting a peace loving conformity.Underground queers like La Bruce and Jones struggled with that and as young, bent rebels gave the finger to, as punk Feminist icon Penny Arcade says (who appears in the film), the “straighter than straight” homosexual lifestyle.
The film explores how J.D’s zine in the Toronto scene with Dyke only bands like Tribe 8 , as La Bruce explains was set to “embrace the more radical of homosexuality… Embrace the criminality of homosexuality”. Although it’s doubtful any laws were actually broken, the conformative gay scene according to film maker Scott Treleaven (The Salivation Army) was something “we hated with their shit music, their clubs, their bath houses, their racism, their sexism, their drugs”.
For Queer punks who were also sick of being shoved to the fringes of a straight macho punk scene, Homocore was medicine. We witness Homocore evolve into Queercore. Archival videos from early 80s to late 90s are used adding to the narrative, and talking heads like John Waters appear from a directory of Queer underground icons including Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV), Silas Howard (Tribe 8), Jon Ginoli (Pansy Division), Tom Jennings (editor in chief Homocore), Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) and Peaches.
Leyser’s film says that things do change, movements rise and fall, that queer art can be accessible and still be authentic, as it ushers in a new age of queer anarcho activism in film and music as is evidenced with La Bruce’s latest offering: The Misandrists (also screening at the festival). For Melbourne audiences Queercore: How to Punk A Revolution will be like a cultural antihistamine after last year’s marriage equality plebiscite, and a prescient reminder that the Q in LGBTQI has a Punk history worthy of adulation and pride.
Sonja Hammer is a First Nations woman from Aotearoa. Sonja created the Queer Geeks of Oz advocacy group, appearing at Oz Comic Con, ACME, Armageddon, PAX, Queer Con and other pop culture conventions. She’s hosted films at Girls on Film Festival and Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Sonja attended the screen writers lab at Stranger With My Face Feminist Film Festival in Tasmania, and recently the Critics Lab at Melbourne Women’s Film Festival.