Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pride Month 2012: Sleater-Kinney

No celebration of queer rock is complete -- nay, valid -- without a nod to Sleater-Kinney. As far as I'm concerned, they're the heartbeat of riot grrl.

Part of that is because they're the first riot grrl band I listened to. (The other part of it is -- I'm sorry -- I just don't like Kathleen Hannah's music.) Back in freshman year of high school, I had a really bad short haircut (long story.) I showed up to a meeting for people who wanted to join bands. This one guy -- who often wore a bow in his hair and his big sister's hand-me-downs -- asked if I wanted to join his riot grrl band. I told him I didn't know what that was, and that I wasn't that great at guitar. He told me, "Don't worry. You belong here."

I'm still not sure if he picked me because he knew I was gay. (And if he did, then he knew it waaaaaaay before I did!) Sleater-Kinney's "Buy Her Candy" was probably the first love song I heard that was explicitly written to a woman. Sure, there was "Come to My Window," but that's pretty ambiguous. During those awkward coming out years in high school, I clung to the "she" in that chorus.

Sleater-Kinney also slammed its way into my life as I tried to define for myself what it meant to be a woman. They showed me that I could be as loud and outspoken and obnoxious as I wanted to be. And that's what we want from our music -- the courage and inspiration to be who we need to be.

I'm glad to see the three of them be successful in their post-SK ventures. However, they're sorely missed.

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