By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Brian Gilmore sure seemed like a nice guy when I interviewed him three years ago for a Weekly story about local bands who'd been having problems with the Galaxy Concert Theatre. The guitarist/vocalist for OC pop/ska outfit My Superhero was cordial and talkative, always ready to stick up for his fans.
Unless his fans happen to be gay or lesbian, it seems. Last week, the Weekly received an anonymous three-page fax, accompanied by a cover letter. "Are these the kind of people that should be on Vans Warped Tour?" the mystery writer asked. (My Superhero will be on several Warped dates this summer.) "Should we support people like this, who clearly DO NOT represent what the scene is about? All this letter shows is HATRED and IGNORANCE." The writer concludes with a call-to-action plea, asking that My Superhero be kicked off the tour.
Included were copies of two messages that the 25-year-old Gilmore had posted in March on My Superhero's www.egroups.com fan newsgroup. A thread had somehow formed around Proposition 22 (the California anti-gay marriage initiative passed by voters on March 7), and Gilmore had decided to join the debate.
Some of Gilmore's bull-on-parade: "I think it's a disgrace that children even know of homosexuality in the first place"; "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve"; "I heard that the average gay male has at least 200 sexual partners in his life"; "If gays want to get married, they'll have to create their own kind of marriage vows that don't involve the Bible or God"; "I doubt that many gays are God fearing anyway, if they were than [sic] they would change their life style (for the sake of their soul)."
And that's just one page. Gilmore goes on to "thank God for the so-called right-wing extremists on AM radio," uses such well-worn phrases as "left-wing socialist college professors" and "Red China" and drops the tired gays-are-child-molesters lie ("They can't help that they want to fondle little babies") as well as the gays-want-special-rights and America-is-a-Christian-country ones, too. He tosses in a couple of "fag" references (which these days is basically the same as "nigger"), just in case you weren't sure which way he swings. And, incredibly, he even attacks his own fans, branding them "a sorry lot of kids" if they don't share his world-view.
Gilmore is certainly entitled to his opinions, no matter how boneheaded they may be. His mistake was in using his band's newsgroup to express them, in signing his postings "Brian, MSh" and in including a link to the My Superhero website at the end of the posts, actions which incriminate not only Gilmore but also his band mates Chris Clawson and Huey Huynh. My Superhero—a bright, shiny, upbeat ska band—now look about as attractive as the infamous skinhead band Skrewdriver.
Thanks to Gilmore, the topic is bound to come up in future interviews the band does; music-industry people will think twice about getting involved with them; club bookers and tour promoters will wonder if people who like carving swastikas into their foreheads will start showing up at My Superhero gigs.
What do Clawson and Huynh think of their front man? I wanted to know, but when I first contacted band manager Sam Uisprapassorn for a comment, he turned into the Pentagon—and then criticized anyone who might find Gilmore's remarks offensive. "I think the real haters are people who would be spiteful like that (in sending out an anonymous fax)," Uisprapassorn told me. "If they're gonna do that, then that's also hatred on their part."
I faxed Uisprapassorn a copy of the cover letter and Gilmore's remarks, who said the band would "release a statement" and that the band was "consulting with their publicist."
The next day, Uisprapassorn did a little backpedaling on behalf of the band. "It's really unfortunate we had a negative event like this happen,"_he said, adding that Gilmore was feeling "apologetic."
But I don't think My Superhero should be kicked off the Warped Tour on account of Gilmore's flaming tonsils —freedom of speech and all that.
Kicking the band off the Warped Tour would be an abridgement of the spirit of free speech. What might be more interesting, though, would be to pair Gilmore in a debate with the guys in another Warped Tour outfit: Lefty-talkin', gay-supportin' Pittsburgh punkers Anti-Flag.
Whatever happens, Gilmore might want to heed the advice he offers in one of My Superhero's songs, "Stupid People": "Open your mind/Uninformed people will choose to stay blind."