Open Letter to the Antioch Record

Monday, December 11th

It is my understanding that certain comments I made during our show on Saturday offended some of those who attended. The problem was in my use of derogatory terminology in dedicating a song to Antioch’s GLBT community. The song itself was of a particularly inflammatory, and violent, nature. In retrospect I understand how, out of context, this could seem disrespectful or even hateful.

Please allow me to provide a context.

I am gay. The sleeveless top I was wearing on Saturday shows off the tattoo on my right shoulder of the pink triangle superimposed over crossbones. That has been something of a symbol for me of my approach to music, and to all of my work. When you’re gay and playing in a rock band, doing shows at straight bars, working with straight (and sometimes blatantly homophobic) musicians, you tend to become highly aggressive as a defense mechanism in the face of audiences and a cohort who really don’t want you there at all. That aggressiveness has largely become my stage persona. The specific words in question are an example of a minority adopting the majority’s insults as if to say, “I am not afraid to use your language. Intimidation is a power you don’t have over me.”

As to the song itself, “Bitter Fruit” is, ironically, a screed against homophobic violence and the futility of violence as a means for social change. It refers to certain betrayals I suffered during my coming-out years. It serves as a reminder why I am so grateful to those straight people who have supported me and truly been my allies, most especially my longtime musical partner, and our drummer, Jake, and our other guitarist Scott (who unfortunately couldn’t make it down for this concert). Without people like them, I wouldn’t be making music at all.

Antioch is unlike any place I’ve ever been able to perform. It is apparent to me now that my defensiveness onstage is unnecessary in this environment. Playing this show, experiencing the campus, meeting the creative people with whom we got to share the stage, was fantastic. I wish to apologize to anyone who was offended by my remarks or my lyrics. I feel embarassed and ashamed, especially because the people who were offended are exactly those for whom I make music.

Most importantly, my thanks to Antioch and the wonderful people who made it possible for us to come.


Charlie Jones, Rucksack Revolution