There are a number of “coming-out” books; they are important testaments to the struggles of homosexuals to gain acceptance in society, and illustrate society’s progress in becoming more tolerant. But Jon Ginoli’s Deflowered is a new wrinkle on the theme. It’s about his life as singer/ guitarist for Pansy Division, the first openly gay pop-punk band, founded in 1988. Male rock singers’ stock-in-trade, even in the politically progressive punk-rock genre, is the proud declaration of their heterosexuality. The stereotypical music of gay men was disco and show tunes, but Ginoli didn’t want to be musically segregated.
Ginoli’s history is a watershed moment, because his generation also saw musicians like Bob Mould of Husker Du, Rob Halford of Judas Priest coming out. But Pansy Division was more direct with their song lyrics and the band name itself. His story isn’t lacking in confrontations with homophobic audience members; it’s an inspiring tale of courage in facing substantial obstacles.
As Ginoli—who will be signing his book locally this week—notes in his recollection of opening for Green Day at the height of that band‘s popularity, “If we had planned to get to Madison Square Garden, we certainly wouldn’t have taken anything resembling the path we took. We certainly wouldn’t have formed a gay rock band. But it was being ourselves that got their attention in the first place.” That lesson can’t be learned too many times.
Jon Ginoli: Deflowered: My Life In Pansy Division @ Sam Weller’s Bookstore, 254 S. Main, 801-328-2586, Friday, May 1, 7 p.m. SamWellers.com