Punk duo PWR BTTM built up a loyal following among the queer community. Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce were met with accolades for being outspoken on queer issues and addressing them in their music. Their genderqueer image— one embossed with sparkles and flowy dresses— drew positive media, until this May, when allegations surfaced that Hopkins had a past of abuse, as well as a photo of the duo posing in front of a swastika.
They took to a Facebook post to describe how they would address the issues: an email address open to survivors to be run by a mediator. But it wasn’t enough, and to some of those outspoken against assault, it was an insensitive answer to heavy allegations. They were dropped from their management, their upcoming tour canceled, and their label, Polyvinyl, chose not to distribute their music, taking their albums off streaming platforms until recently, when “Ugly Cherries” made its way back onto Spotify.
That being said, there are now a slew of LGBTQIA+ kids out there whose heroes have fallen. There are also a number of people who may not identify as queer but who discovered PWR BTTM’s music, and possibly, a newfound sense of acceptance.
It’s true. PWR BTTM does instill a sense of positivity and community in their music, even making sure the venues they play offer gender neutral bathrooms. For many of their fans, the safe space harbored by the group just doesn’t seem as safe. And in an already marginalized community, many felt survivors of abuse deserved to be heard— and PWR BTTM to be held accountable.
For those who don’t want to lend their ear to PWR BTTM for the time being, or forever, there are other wonderful queer acts to start listening to. Perfume Genius just put out an amazing, cathartic album, fittingly titled “No Shape.” Rapper and Producer Mykki Blanco slays in the song “High School Never Ends.” Ezra Furman channels a rockabilly sound in a whole new way throughout his discography.
Give these artists — chosen from across genres and gender spectrum — a listen and let us know who your favorite queer artists are on our social media.