Queer As Punk

Sunday 30 July



As part of 6 Music’s Loud and Proud season, marking 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, writer Jon Savage (England's Dreaming) explores the frequently overlooked story of the effect of LGBTQ+ culture on the early days of punk, and how queer punks went on to influence 80s music.

Listeners will hear how the impact of Bowie and Lou Reed’s public assertions of bisexuality created a catalyst for radical LGBTQ+ culture to emerge from the sidelines, and led to queer becoming the new cool for a generation of music lovers. They converged in the only place they were safe, as strange-looking outsiders from the mainstream: gay clubs.

From London to Manchester and Liverpool, the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, The Sex Pistols, Pete Shelley and Holly Johnson were all involved in this fledgling punk scene. Taking its fashion inspiration from gay and fetish wear, these cultural crossovers are key to understanding the true spirit of punk. As punk went mainstream, the queers went underground to clubs like Billys and The Blitz and regrouped to create the next big cultural moment - New Romantic.

Listeners will hear from those that were on the frontline of this cultural confluence, from Pete Shelley, Jayne County, Jordan, Tom Robinson and the late Pete Burns, to those who worked at gay punk clubs such a DJ Princess Julia and Ranch barman Steve Shy.

6 Music’s Loud and Proud is part of Gay Britannia, a season of programming across BBC Radio and Television which marks the 50th anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act 1967.

Presenter: Jon Savage
Producer: Kath McDermott for the BBC

BBC Radio 6 Music Publicity