With the sad news that Bronski Beat co-founder Steve Bronski has passed away aged 61, tributes have filled social media thanking the musician for the huge part he played in the lives of LGBTQ+ music fans.
Most famous for their classic Smalltown Boy, Bronski Beat gave a voice to queer people in the 1980’s during darker times for the community. To have openly gay artists creating music with openly gay themes and make such an impact on the charts was revolutionary.
Sad to hear Steve Bronski has died. He was a talented and a very melodic man. Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time. Thanks for the melody Steve. Jimmy x pic.twitter.com/VfxbtZu1Nx
— Jimmy Somerville (@JimmySomerville) December 9, 2021
The video for Smalltown Boy featured the band’s singer Jimmy Somerville being chased by a homophobic gang and then thrown out of his house by his parents before leaving to find a new life in the city.
“You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face,
Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home,
The love that you need will never be found at home.”
RIP Steve Bronski. Smalltown Boy is, quite properly, a gay anthem, saying so much about and to that community at that time. But it also speaks to any young person leaving home to find something they can't have there, maybe their independence and true adulthood.
— DCT (@deeceeteeee) December 9, 2021
Fellow Bronski Beat member, singer Jimmy Somerville, shared, “Sad to hear Steve Bronski has died. He was a talented and a very melodic man. Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time. Thanks for the melody Steve.”
The sleeve for Bronski Beat’s Age of Consent album lists international ages of consent for sex between men (which in the UK was 5 years older than between men and women), and includes a phone number for gay legal advice
RIP Steve Bronski – very fucking cool behaviour pic.twitter.com/Arg3vnEgGC
— James (@DrJamesJBailey) December 9, 2021
In an interview with The Guardian back in 2018, Bronski described, “At the time we were just three gay guys who started a band – we didn’t feel like part of any particular movement… Of course, it would transpire many years later that there were more gay artists than the public were led to believe.”
Sad to hear of Steve Bronski’s death.
I was 16 when Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy hit the charts.
Its lyrics about leaving a small town to seek acceptance and other #LGBT people in the city resonated.
It was an unambiguously gay song sung by an openly gay band.
This mattered. pic.twitter.com/nfHBzEWm4D
— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) December 9, 2021
Rest in Power, Steve.
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