If anyone has been paying attention in the world of punk rock, you are well aware that Tom Gabel of Against Me! has recently stepped forward with the choice to live the remainder of his life as a woman. Laura Jane Grace is now her legal name.
As well as you may also know, we here at Blakow! are pretty vocal advocates of alternate lifestyle rights and I personally applaud Laura for having the courage to do what so many others feel they can’t.
My biggest question had been: what will that do to the music since Tom Gabel’s voice has always had a very gritty sound? Apparently it won’t do anything since Laura likes her voice and is choosing to not have voice-altering surgery. Will her voice stay as recognizable as we all know? I don’t think she can guarantee that, since she is taking hormone therapy. I imagine it will have some effect on her voice, even if it’s not a dramatic change. …but I’m not a doctor, so that’s just speculation.
With that being said, that’s all the opinion I have on the matter of her sexual identity. Kudos to you, Laura. I wish the best for you and your wife moving forward and I genuinely hope this doesn’t create some immovable obstacle for your relationship down the road.
What this post is really about is the fact that every time I see something about Against Me! now, it has to be tainted with the story of her transition. It’s cool and I get it – yes, it’s a big fucking deal, but seriously, if you want people to allow you to be who you need to be, then just do it. We don’t need to drag this thing out. When I initially read about this, I was like “Huh, what to do you know – he’s a woman now. I wonder what her voice will sound like on the next album. Baby, what do you have in mind for dinner?” It really had that little impact on whether or not I like the band or not or whether or not I will still support Tom Gabel or Laura Jane Grace. Whoever you choose to live as is your choice and your choice alone and I still respect you regardless, so maybe you can give fans like me the same courtesy and not let this become a major focal point of how you conduct business with Against Me! moving forward. The fact that the next album is set to be entitled Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is already upsetting to me and sounds like this is becoming almost gimmicky in the face of a marriage equality torn country. Let’s not ride this wave for what it’s worth, shall we?
I want the music. I love Against Me! I don’t know if I could give the same support to Transgender Against Me! because then the focus is on image of the person, rather than the message of the collective unit. Transgender Dysphoria Blues can be a song title. It’s the story of one member of the band. Why does it have to be the title of the entire album? You were able to relay your emotions pretty well in The Ocean and it didn’t have to be the focal point of the entire album.
Prime example: When Rob Halford came out as gay, that never became the focal point of Judas Priest. He said, “I’m Gay” and they continued with business as usual. Their fans continued to love the band and Rob the same as they did before he came out.
I’m not saying not to tell your story, but rather to tell it at the appropriate times and don’t let Against Me! become the story. Don’t let this thing consume everything that you have built with a great band.