#punk etymology / the DIY spirit and #marriageequality

Welcome back to the Sunday edition of Radio K-SAT, where I’m happy to report that the dance-drink formula for youth–i.e., dance late into the night to avoid a hangover–still works episodically for those of us getting medium-long in the tooth (if not in spirit). Spirits of a different sort have been high among my family and friends following the recent Supreme Court decision about DOMA, etc., and it was especially fitting that this weekend that two dear friends of mine tied the knot after 13 years together.

As I note in the opening chapter of Stealing, there is a rather unflattering etymological connection between punk and homosexuality: the derogatory use of “punk” begins in the sixteenth century, and is used as a synonym for “prostitute” in Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure (1623): “She may be a Puncke: for many of them, are neither Maid, Widow, nor Wife.” Punk’s use became elastic enough to include “male homosexual,” “contemptible person,” “weakling,” “amateur,” and “male companion of a tramp,” by the pen of Jack London, in 1907: “A boy on The Road … is a road-kid or a ‘punk’.” In V. (1963), Thomas Pynchon employs “punk” with a neutered connotation: “There was nothing so special about the gang, punks are punks.”

There is nothing contemptible Jared and Joseph’s love and devotion for one another. In Ohio, of course, our celebrated couple did not have the option of descending upon the local probate for a quick (and dirty?) wedding, as was the case in SF this weekend. Gay folks in fly-over-land, though, embrace the do-it-yourself spirit of punk (and the civil rights movement, in which the DIY spirit reigned supreme), and gather friends and family to embrace the rites of civil partnerships and the like. As one of the groomswomen noted, “I’m so glad that Jared and Joseph didn’t wait around for some politician to see the light.” Amen, sister.


I had the honor of ministering the wedding, and a real tear-fest commenced in the procession, as Jared and Joseph made their way down the aisle together–dressed to the 9s in dignified black, white, and hot pink–and gathered members of their immediate and extended families in the front pews in earnest bear-hugs and kisses. The oratory and readings included the standard (if still important) platitudes, and one text invited them to “seek wonder together in the sublime.” For we who bore witness, the wedding itself–and all it represented–was sublime indeed.

Author: stealingalltransmissions

CA ex-pat loving life in Northeast Ohio. Like most of you, I write stuff.

2 thoughts on “#punk etymology / the DIY spirit and #marriageequality”

    1. Dear Mr. W.,
      Thanks for commenting, and for picking up a copy of *Stealing*! I hope you enjoy it.

      Meg Griffin was a big TRB fan back in the day, and I figure she played a big role in making their live simulcast from The Bottom Line possible. I wish it were better quality, but check this out — http://tinyurl.com/TRB-WNEW-FM — maybe it’s from Billboard magazine? I can’t be sure.

      It’s a real shame that the polymorphous perversity of punk was so short-lived. I figure that’s got to be part of the reason TRB didn’t translate well here in the states. As far as I know, I never once heard TRB tunes on the radio while growing up out west.

      with gratitude– randal

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