Intersections of Queerness and Punk

by blair morton

I sat down via the web with B, who goes under the stage name of Mildrid. B fronted an Athens alumni band called Window Box before they relocated to Akron to attend school. When B was 19, he started a DIY music label turned media outlet called Flower Jar Media (once known as Lil Pup).When B isn’t touring or collaborating with other queer-centric music acts and artists like The Magic Fountain, they are using the web to combat forms of sexism, rape culture, and the punk patriarchy — or as B like to call it, trying to make American gay again.

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Can you start off by stating your pronouns and how you’d like to be identified                      

B: Hey, Blair!! My pronouns are they/he, and I identify as a genderqueer/trans person!

How does your identity as a queer person intersect with your music?

B: My identity as a queer person intersects with my music in a lot of ways, actually. I feel that, since I have this platform,  it’s incredibly important (personally, at least), to use this for something more than my own personal gain. I am incredibly privileged for many reasons; one being that I DO have this platform, something that most don’t and I am incredibly thankful for that. A lot of my songs have stuff about gender/etc. in them. The reaction is either, “hell yeah, that was sick”, or something along the lines of uncomfortable silence. Which, honestly, good. If they’re uncomfortable, they’re part of the problem.

Some have made the argument that by incorporating queer musicians onto bills or playlists, they are tokenizing the musician in an attempt to diversify their music. Some musicians have stated that they battle with being viewed as a musician over queer — and that genre names like “queer rock” only reinforce that. Do you battle with tokenization?

B: I personally have not experienced tokenization, at least that I know of. I think that listening to/booking queer musicians is important, if you’re doing it because you genuinely want these people to have representation. Doing it because you want to further your ,“look, I care!-Look at all the good I’m doing!-Look at all the queer people I’m helping!-Scene-Cred”, is bullshit. We see you and we hear you.

Do you find solidarity within the right grrrl movement or do you find to be an instance of separatism?
B: I don’t have extensive knowledge about the Riot Grrrl movement, but I do know that it wasn’t as intersectional as it should have been. There’s something so much more empowering about women/non-cis-male-identifying people lifting up/helping out/inspiring each other, than creating a “club”, that only pertains to a specific demographic.

Do you think DIY spaces are accepting of those who are racially marginalized? Marginalized by their gender/sexuality? Has there been progress? 
B: I think that most DIY spaces are at least intolerant of racism/homophobia/transphobia/etc. I think there has been progress, but we shouldn’t stop where we are. We should keep furthering these conversations, keep creating and providing inclusive spaces. We’ve gotta keep looking out for each other, because no one else is lookin’ out for us.

 

Do you think those who facilitate DIY and other outlets of the music industry have an obligation to promote inclusion and education of queer identities? What are difficulties they face? How can showrunners combat instances of harmful behavior at shows?
B: I don’t think they’re necessarily “obligated”, but if they aren’t inclusive, fuck them. If they aren’t willing to promote inclusion/education of queer identities from the start, I think forcing it won’t do much for anyone. I don’t think anyone has the time or energy to deal with non-inclusive spaces/people, so weeding them out just makes everyone’s lives/experience easier. With that being said, I think they might face difficulties with knowing how to go about being more inclusive, which might lead tokenization, etc.

I think show runners can combat instances of harmful behavior by enforcing the safe-space ideals as much as possible. If someone is being problematic at a show, kick them the fuck out and tell them not to come back. If a known abuser/rapist/etc. shows up, kick them the fuck out and tell them not to come back. They’ll either talk shit on the internet, or maybe, contemplate their actions (and by some grace of whatever god you subscribe to, apologize and change their ways).

 

Are shown spaces/DIY spaces a place to facilitate gender equity and identity politics or are they solely a place to display music and art?
B: I think show/DIY spaces are 100%, a place to facilitate gender equality/identity politics. We’ve created these spaces, this counter-culture, because we want to separate ourselves from the toxicity of mainstream societal norms. I think excluding gender equality/identity politics, is regressive.


How do you define safe/safer space?
B: I define safe/safer spaces, as places that are inclusive of people of color, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, and devoid, or at least intolerant, of racism/sexism/bigotry/homophobia/transphobia/rape culture/etc, etc, etc. I’ve been hearing more places changing from “safe” spaces to “safer” spaces, because no one can guarantee that these spaces will always be 100% safe (ex: some problematic person shows up and says/does some problematic crap before getting kicked out). With that being said; being in spaces that identify with these ideals are some of the places I have felt safest and most at home. They’re incredibly important, so shouts out to all of y’all who are actively providing/trying to provide spaces that lil baby queers (such as myself) and other people who are marginalized, can feel comfortable in.

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