Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hatin' On Skinheads

I've been debating this post all day long. I do my best not to keep Singletails free of negativity. But something I just gotta sound off about.

It all started the other night. This guy on Recon flags me down with an "Oi m8!". I gave a polite 'hey whats up, Boss" in response. He said I was hot. I thanked him. (Of course, he had the obligatory pic shosing him giving the finger to the camera, and I hate that.) He persisted.

"88? WP?"

That's when I shut him down. "88" is code. "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 is HH. And HH stands for "Heil Hitler." And WP, of course, stands for "White Power."

Gay skinheads are bullshit.

Yeah yeah yeah. I know. The fellas at Instigator are always telling us how hot they are. And that guy Drub is so down.

But I just don't buy it.

Skins had their origins in London's East End and in various industrial towns in the North of England during the 'Sixties and 'Seventies. (And, some would argue, going as far back as the 'Fifties.) It was a working class phenomenon, typified by looking sharp in a set range of clothing brands and short haircuts. To some degree, skins were a reaction against some aspects of the countercultural movement of the 'Sixties, the whole Mods and Rockers thing.

Oh yeah. And they were all white.

This at a time when the East End of London and industrial cities and towns in the North of England were seeing increasing numbers of immigrants from the former British Commonwealth. And so, a Fun Thing To Do for skinheads was to go down to Brixton in cowardly groups and beat the bejeezus out of "Pakis and Blacks."

To put it plainly: skinheads were a violent and racist subculture.

But, they also had music associated with the movement. And a lot of people were drawn to the movement because they liked the music, rather than the racism.

"Oh no!" Skin-identified homo apologists will argue, "It's a working class movement, about being proud of your working class roots."

Uh huh.

When I was on the fringes of the punk scene in Philadelphia during the 1980s, I knew skinheads. And they were racist. And, of course, they hated fags. But it was the 'Eighties, and everybody hated fags back then. Now there was this whole "Anti-Racist Skins" thing going on, even way back then. Kids who liked skinhead music but objected to the racism.

Then, and now, that didn't cut a lot of mustard with me. Like being "anti-racist Klan" ("I just like the cool costumes and the traditions and the brotherhood and standing up for the Southern way of life! Honest!")

Skinheads are racist. Skinhead violence in Europe is still a reality. And it's violence directed against people of color. And fags.

What's going on here, and what no gay skinhead I've run across is willing to cop to, is that it's not about the music or being proud of your "working class roots" or whatever, it's a fetish. And that fetish is all about worshipping what you fear.

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

I'm totally cool with worshipping what you fear on the level of fetish and roleplay. You wanna bring out the Swastikas to get yourself off? Cool. Just take some time and watch the Claude Lanzmann's 1985 documentary "Shoah" sometime so you have a fuller understanding of the dark forest you're romping in. And hey, I've got a cop uniform hanging in my closet.

So why don't I give a pass to gay so-called skinheads?

Here's why. Because today, skinheads have been co-opted by racist organizations here in the U.S. and Europe. For the Klan and other white supremacist groups here in the U.S., the skinhead movement has been the greatest possible recruiting tool imaginable. White supremacists bankroll the shows, the kids show up, skins recruit, pass out hate literature, and so it goes. Easy enough to argue that this is American and Freedom of Speech and expression and all that, but let's keep in mind that white supremacists bomb gay bars, kill radio talk show hosts, and elect klansmen to Congress.

So by bein' so cool in your bleachers and braces and Fred Perry's, what you're doing is being dupes for some really bad people, and giving them wider acceptance and legitimacy.

And I'd go so far as to say that there's blood on your hands for that.

So no. I'm not a skinhead. And none of my friends are skinheads. And gay skinheads are bullshit.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Drew. Your arguments are pretty hard to argue with and hold a lot of water. And I can speak to the validity of much of what you say as I started my adult life, or rather just after my adolescence, as a "punk" into hardcore rock. While not quite a skinhead, per se, that was indeed the "look" which I adopted in those far ago days, boots and braces and lots of black tee-shirts and leather jackets and dog collars and lots of spikes and a shaved head ("not quite a "bonehead", but close). All this as prelude, of course, to what ended being my real procilivity, Leather.

My experience of skinhead culture took place in Montreal, where I was freshcut at 17. I realize that you are firmly against "buts" in this particular blog entry of yours, but...

What has come to both in Europe and in the USA as a very, very ugly, politically negative movement, was for many of us in Montreal--we were all SHARPS--not udnerstoof to be political and we had no prjudices to speak of--other than against disco sucking, yuppies, and what we regarded ass the growing forces of Reaganite, right-wing oppression. In fact, my "posse" included several people--both male and female, BTW--of East Indian extraction, Pakistani parentage, Jewish, Carribbean ancestry, as well as the usual mix of those of us with French, English and German backgorunds. One would have been impossibly hard-pressed to find an ounce of racism in any of us. Punk, and the skinhead look that was our way of rebelling against the prevalent preppie and Young Republican fashions of the day, was rooted for us in music--more depressive than violent in any sense--hash cigarettes, and the occasional rumble with the racist skinheads who did indeed exist in those days, but in far smaller numbers. I, for one, could never have subscribed to a racist philosophy with its roots in the sort of people that caused my uncle--a former French Olympic swimmer--to lose both his legs, my father to become deaf, my grandmother to have been imprisoned and shot at, my mother's family to lose everything, and on, believe me.

I will never forget the huge rumble we had in a punk club's main stairwell when boneheads decided to attack the members of our group. It turned into an all-out free-for-all, and we suddenyl found ourselves with many more allies than we could ever have imagined.

So, Drew, yes, like you I really am tired of these twerps who take a look at my pics and immediately assume some deadly wrong. I, too, find repugnant the "88s" and "HHs" and "Bruders" and all that bullshit that is more indicative of people jumping on some sort of unrelected-upon bandwagon than it is any expression of sound individualtiy. Sadly, those people at some level I believe hate their own homosexuality, for how else can they justify paying lip-servcie to a movement that seeks their extermination?

But--and there is that "but"--we were not all like that and perhaps a more delicate understanding of those now long-ago times would help more people to understand just how complex are the roots of all of this. As the racists increasingly took over, we moved away from it all, the look, the music, the movement. I often wonder what those who are now sporting boots and braces were doing back then...I am willing to bet--and I am not usually a betting man--that they were either closeted or preppies or yuppies or some such. They show by their behavior today that they would not have had the guts and the imagination or artistic sensibility to openly join the Punk movement of those days. That took guts homo-fascists today have none. Best, Rob

Drub said...

You are so right. It's totally been co-opted in the 80s by the British National Front and since then it's been tainted and people seem to forget that the late 60s gave birth to the "hard mod" that was a mix and mingle with Jamaican Rudeboy culture (see the music charts from back then).

It's the reason why I left ReCon years ago. They have a "no racist" policy but it's not enforced. It sucks to have something I've been in so long get adapted by guys who find it "hot" but in their search for a wider understanding or to solidify their new found identity, they gravitate toward something they see as the ultimate kink - hate.

To say I hate these fuckers would be an understatement. How screwed up do they have to be to get erections and adorn their sex gear (let's be honest - they aren't skinheads in any light really) with swastikas and use shorthand racist speak to each other in the ultimate online wank dream? It's all it is to most of them. It's as fake as they are and twice as pathetic. When they cum, do they think of all the Jews, gypsies, and their gay forefathers who were gassed?

White power, indeed.

The thing is, I've never met one of these pathetic losers outside of the realm of the computer screen. I've never seen them at a punk show much less in their local gay bar. It's as sad as sad can be. It's either they are into nazi fetish crap or they are ancient old farts who don't know a pit from an armpit.

I'd love to punch every single one of them in the teeth.

That said, keep up the good work on your blog - it kicks ass.