We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re fucking angry.
On Sunday the 12th, a lone gunman entered a gay club at around 2:00 am and killed 50 people. We now know that before doing so, he used gay apps like Jack’d and asked queers where they partied with their friends. Both the shooter’s father and ex-wife have identified him as extremely homophobic.
Because the shooter is dead, we will never know exactly what caused him to go into Pulse, an Orlando gay club, on Latin night. We will never know if he directly sought out a night when trans talent was performing. What we do know is that his violent hatred of LGBTQ folk is far from unusual in the U.S.
Over the past two years we’ve seen a rapid increase in the prevalence of “bathroom bills,” which require one to use the restroom corresponding to their legal sex, no matter what their gender presentation. We’ve seen a law in North Carolina that gives business owners the right to deny service based on sexual orientation. As of June 14, there have been twelve publicized murders of trans people in 2016. The final count last year was 20.
GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and thousands of corporate entities tell us that “love is love,” or “love wins,” selling us a vision of queer happiness that involves marriage, a Hillary Clinton bumper sticker, and a healthy smattering of imperialism. Fortunately for us all, empty slogans and mini flags are absent from Trans Day of Revenge, the latest release from queercore band G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit).
The band soared to prominence in the scene with the release of their 2015 demo, earning spots on year-end lists and becoming the most talked about queercore band in the U.S. Frontwoman Sadie Switchblade said in an interview with Bitch that singing in the band was “like weaponizing a lifetime of anguish and alienation.”
Though Switchblade announced the EP’’s Monday release before the shooting took place, there’s no doubt that the lyrics can be taken as a response to the violent anti-LGBTQ culture in America. The band refuses to hold back when confronting sexual and physical abuse, police brutality, and mainstream gay culture. The title itself references the Trans Day of Remembrance, a GLAAD-led initiative that attempts to honor victims of anti-trans violence.
One of the core themes of “Trans Day of Revenge,” an end to passivity. The first track, “Give Violence a Chance,” invites listeners to rise up against a suffocating and dangerous straight culture. “When peace is just another word for death,” the song begins, “it’s our turn to give violence a chance.”
The sentiment is echoed in “Out From the Desk,” a tale of abuse from the perspective of an outsider. Switchblade screams into the mic: “Bent ears/can’t be enough/out from the desk/let’s all crew up,” a call to other queers for support.
The title track of the EP, “Trans Day of Revenge,” is as close as it gets to a G.L.O.S.S. manifesto. The anger is palpable, but so is the feeling of power surging through each lyric and guitar riff. They reference the high body count of their peers and the insensitivity of police and media towards their very livelihoods. In this final song the members of G.L.O.S.S. asset themselves as forces to be reckoned with, as actors of change within the queer community.
The most hopeful song on the EP, “We Live,” is a testament to the survival of the trans community despite the constant threat of violence. There’s a protective love to the track, and it’s easy to imagine eager young trans kids slamming through the crowd at a show, sweaty and screaming along excitedly:
for nights like this
basements filled with burning kids
we scream just to make sense of things
studs and leathers survivors wings”
This is the most cathartic element of this or any G.L.O.S.S. release, the idea that the power exerted upon trans bodies by legislators, abusers, and the justice system can be taken back. We may not be able to go back and warn the patrons of Pulse nightclub, but we can take action to directly support each other in our everyday lives. The anger present in this EP is a revelation, and a healing aide for those traumatized by the shooting. With Trans Day of Revenge, G.L.O.S.S. has created a resource for the community at a time when emotions are running wild and many may be feeling hopeless..G.L.O.S.S. is inciting a riot, and it’s time we all joined them in the streets.
Allison Hart is a freelance writer specializing in gender identity issues and cultural criticism. More work can be found at girlcereal.weebly.com