Band Queers Represent!

“Band Queers.”

That’s what they called us. And to be totally fair, some of us were, even if we didn’t realize at the time. However, in my high school,if you played an instrument other than a guitar and were in the band, you were a Band Queer, regardless of your orientation.

I’ve said before that I learned the meaning of irony in high school marching band. You see, there’s something about marching, the act of declarative, deliberate, ritualized walking, that is revelatory. Those who haven’t ever marched in any capacity, be it military, musical, or in protest, just don’t get it. The other kids in high school certainly didn’t, that’s for sure.

But we did. All the weeks of sweaty August nights, practicing on that muddy, bumpy field behind the band hall, slathered with Off to protect against the clouds of mosquitoes that feasted on us, trying and failing, and trying again till suddenly it all clicked: the intricacies of the music embedded in our brains, the mathematical complexity of the formations understood and mastered, turns and counter marches exquisitely snapped off, and a hundred and eight awkward geek adolescents moved as one proud accomplished entity.

We knew how good we were and we knew that the others would never get it and we knew that didn’t matter. We had a job to do, a show to put on, and a school to represent, whether they liked us or not. We were Band Queers. We kicked ass.

All of that, and of course so much more, was why I was in tears when I sawthis news day before yesterday:

We are extremely pleased to announce that the Lesbian and Gay Band Association will be included as a marching contingent in the Inaugural Parade. This is the first time that an LGBT group will be represented in a Presidential Inaugural Parade, truly our chance to make history.

15 thoughts on “Band Queers Represent!

  1. in high school, I was on drill team (the dance team), but I had many friends that were ‘Band Fags’ and when I got to A&M, I was immediately in love w/the BQs (Aggie-abbrev for Band Queers)…and my first real love was a cute freshman dude that played the Euphonium. I loved being a BQ ‘wife’ (his ‘ol lady’ would have been his roomie in Aggie parlance). Oh memories…
    As for high school – my total fave of the Band Fags were the drum line dudes…wow, to this day when I hear that sound I am all about flashbacks. I don’t doubt that my love of a good beat from drum line was what drew me to bellydancing later (well, yeah, the sparkly costumes and such…didn’t hurt) – ooh, a properly played doumbek or tabla… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Elspeth

  2. Clarinet, Alto & Baritone Saxes and various duties on marching Bass and Tri-Toms…it wasn’t all band-queer/geek hell though…the saxes got me a decent amount of play…no wonder Clinton chose to play it on Arsenio back in the day

  3. THat was part of the irony, Crapture. We had the best drugs, we were having as much sex as anyone else, and we were smarter than most. But we were still band queers to the world at large.

  4. Coronet
    I must not have been gay enuff.
    I really did not enjoy marching band; quit after my sophomore year.
    But cheers to the Lesbian and Gay Band Association
    .

  5. How odd. I went to a high school where the music programme so dominated all the rest of the extracurricular activities (there were only, say, a dozen football players, but there were easily 400 members of the various choirs and bands in an 1100-person school) that nobody would havedared call us “band queers” or suchlike. That kind of epithet was a real fightin’ word in my high school, populated as it was by inmates who professed the most radical of fundamental evangelical Christianities, and besides which, the musicians outnumbered pretty much every other single faction. In other words, anybody caught slinging that kind of language at us would have had their ass kicked with extreme prejudice.
    Me, I was a chorister. The band kids were the poor relations even in a music-heavy school… ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Back in my day we marching band types were called Gentle Freaks. We only played rock & roll arrangements and was a basically a drum & bugle corps. (try 24 trumpets)
    We also had a reputation for hard drinking (drugs weren’t really “in” yet). Our director learned this when we were invited to the Cherry Blossom Parade in D.C., we were very devious and productive in every city we stayed in. He wondered where all the bottles came from in the dumpster… That was just the drummers and the horn folk. Yes, we were BAD!

  7. Hey man,
    I was a trombone player! Had to line up first in marching demonstrations! (Kind of a big deal, as everyone followed you, and you couldn’t fuck up a turn..) ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. At my catholic high school, the band geeks got more action than the football squad (state champs too).
    More sex went down in the band instrument room than anywhere else on campus (except one priest’s office, the one who taught marriage classes.)

  9. Guilty. Drummer.
    La Vega was a AAA school with a crummy football team but an award-winning band (1965-1969). Our director Harry Preston Miles was a total Sousa freak, but we got some cool stuff, too (David Rose’s “The Stripper”). Mr. Miles was a big enough deal for the school system that they named the Middle School after him.
    http://www.lavegaisd.org/elvis/elvis.htm
    I’m concerned about the de-emphasis of music programs at the expense of sports. Music teaches you to think logically and well. Not sure how I slipped through the cracks…

  10. At my HS back in the day, the band were the outcasts and weirdos…the football team were regarded by alumni and faculty and much of the rest of the student body as these untouchable demi-gods who could do no wrong…our band was small and mostly dudes, so most of the crazy band-sex i got was from girls in other school’s bands and from the occasional visiting cheerleader (small private school – our school’s cheerleaders all came from the same neighborhoods as the football teams and those relationships bordered on being pre-arranged by the cliques their parents belonged to, so outsiders, band geeks and “art-fags” did not need apply))

  11. worse still, most of those cheerleaders grew up to become republicans from what i’ve seen of some of my school’s alumni news, so it’s just as well

  12. Mmmmmmm, Sousa. My mom and I have gone to the Independence Day parade in our hometown since I was a kid, *solely* to hear the bands. When one comes along, we walk with them down the parade route to hear everything they do, then walk back up to the next one. It’s exhausting, but wonderful.
    I’m so thrilled for the LGBA! That’s so awesome. I just wish I could be there to see it.
    (BTW, one of our local bands, the Windsor (Colorado) High School band, got picked, too. They went through a lot with the tornado that hit last spring, so this is a big deal for that community. So all sorts of cool band news these days!)

  13. Also guilty. Flutist (if you’ve got to lug something around in a precision formation in August heat, better it be something light). We rocked the football games. We rocked the biggest regional Christmas parade around (in a respectably sized metro area). We rocked the band competitions. We rocked the homes of every set of parents foolish enough to go out of town for the weekend (including my own, although I must’ve had a death wish what with getting a live band and all). And on the nights of my junior and senior proms, with a good half-dozen or more after-parties from which to choose and even with a hot date awaiting a little alone time both years, it was the band parties I chose both years because it was prom night and damn if I was going to BMOB.

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