Another band fusing punk rock attitude with queer awareness is Tribe 8, a ferocious yet odd thrash assault that fits perfectly on Jello Biafra’s label Alternative Tentacles Records. These girls have a reputation for playing hard and fast music about feminist issues that don’t always go over well with other feminists. But Tribe 8 aren’t about shock rock, they’re about writing feminist punk songs concerning everything from fighting cops to casterating rapists. Current and former members include a singer who just published her first book, a tattooing guitarist whose films can be seen in gay and lesbian film festivals, a transgendered political/environmental activist drummer (who has since left the band to marry the woman s/he loves) and a new drummer who runs her own women’s specific bicycling shop while not rocking out. The members of Tribe 8 stay this active because their message doesn’t end after their live show. They want everyone to hear what they are saying. To quote singer Lynn Breedlove, “I think the more the mainstream, straights and gays alike, hear queer music, the more they’re going to start to accept that we exist and that we’re o.k. and that we are not the enemy and we’re not evil and we’re not monsters. We’re just people.”
No discussion of gay, lesbian and transgendered music would be complete without mentioning Phranc. This surfing lesbian folksinger has been genderbending in music for over 20 years and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. She came out (musically, that is) during the punk scene of the 1970’s playing synthcore and gothic reggae but by the end of the decade found herself singing songs with just an acoustic guitar so that people could really focus on her message. Since then she has released a handful of albums, started her own record label (Phrancy Records), performed as a Neil Diamond impersonator, displayed artwork in galleries from New York to Santa Monica, and worked with everyone from Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill to Warren A. Bruleigh of the Violent Femmes. She continues to be one of the most influential women in experimental and underground music and a formidable warrior against gender constraints.
What I’ve mentioned here is only a drop from the ocean of talented artists and musicians. These bands aren’t trying to start their own segregated scene, separate from “straight” music. I think Team Dresch said it best in their song “YES I AM TOO, BUT WHO AM I REALLY?”: “Don’t tell us we only care about the dykes and fags / Don’t try and find fake reasons to hate us / Some people get it, lots more people need it / Freedom is freedom / it’s for all or it’s all for nothing.”