Image Credit: Dusti Cunningham
It’s Pride Month! Throughout June, HollywoodLife is celebrating with The Sound Of Pride, where celebs and stars of the LBGTQ+ community pick songs for the ultimate 2023 Pride Month playlist. It’s the perfect soundtrack to planning your Pride party, researching how to protect LGBTQ+ rights, or reading about the history of Pride Month. This time, Brian Welch — drummer for the queer-themed rock celebration band, GayC/DC — salutes those who are about to rock.
Bian Welch left, and his fellow GayC/DC members Glen Pavan, Chris Freeman, Steve McKnight, and Karl Rumpf. (Dusti Cunningham)
“Pride, for me, has felt contrived and manufactured to some degree,” says Brian Welch, the drummer pounding furiously away as part of GayC/DC, the world’s first and only all-gay tribute to the music of AC/DC. When sharing his picks for The Sound of Pride, Bring tells HollywoodLife that he and his husband feel more fulfilled by “putting our wallets into action and supported local and national causes that will have much more direct effect than us having a drink and watching a parade.”
However, in the face of regressive, reactionary politics – and the near 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in U.S. state legislatures – Pride has become something more in 2023. “This year is different,” he tells HL. “I feel that, much like in the mid 90’s, the community is banding together again to protect each other and fend off those who wish us harm. And we’re here for it.”
GayC/DC will gladly provide the soundtrack to the battle for LGBTQ+ equality. With songs like “Dirty Dudes Done Dirty Cheap” and “Big Balls” (which really didn’t need to be changed from the AC/DC original to fit the motif), GayC/DC is a pulse-pounding, heart-throbbing, wall-to-wall rockin’ experience. Yet, with his picks for The Sound of Pride, Brian chooses more than just rock. Read on.
Diana Ross, “I’m Coming Out”
“I know, I know. So cliché. But when this song debuted in 1980 (and it was played everywhere), this 15-year-old gay kid felt like there was hope on the horizon. Maybe I wouldn’t have to hide who I was all my life. Diana was telling me it’d be ok. And Diana was life for me. She was my first ever concert in 1979, and that night changed my life.”
Pansy Division, “The Best Revenge”
“This song literally helped me become stronger emotionally after a very bad breakup. Truer words have never been uttered before: ‘Some people can’t bear to see you living happily. Had you guilt-tripped for years. So much invested in those tears. Happiness is the best revenge.’ I heard this song and convinced the Boston Pride Committee that we needed Pansy Division to play the Pride Festival that year (1998). We got them, I met bassist Chris Freeman, and now I’m in a band with him and count him as one of my very best friends.”
CeCe Peniston, “Finally”
“Not so much a Pride song per se, but it is in the film Priscilla: Queen of The Desert, and it takes me back to that summer with my bestie Jeff when that song was everywhere, especially at Pride parties and we’d be lip-synching for our lives. And for me, it was, ‘Finally! I’m out!’”
“At last! Something that the gay Alt-Rock kid in me could relate to. Shirley Manson and co. made all us misfits feel seen and loved. So we thanked them by announcing this as our anthem that year.”
Pet Shop Boys – “Being Boring” / “Love, etc.”
“At the time that I came out, it was the height of HIV/AIDS, and I found myself volunteering weeknights at AIDS Action Committee in Boston, stuffing envelopes and folding fundraising letters with a group called the Tuesday Night Tappers. I met a lot of friends there who showed me the true meaning of compassion and love. This song always reminds me of those I lost and the strides we made back then to uphold our community. We took care of each other and held each other up in the times of grief. And we made sure to let each other know that we were always fabulous and always will be.”
This song [“Love, etc.”} should be played at every Pride parade, festival, and party every single year. It should be a pink law.
Going into Pride 2023, how does this year’s celebration feel when compared to last year’s?
To be honest, for the past few years, my husband and I haven’t participated in too many Pride activities unless the band was playing. Pride, for me, has felt contrived and manufactured to some degree. We participated by putting our wallets into action and supported local and national causes that will have a much more direct effect than us having a drink and watching a parade. But this year is different. I feel that, much like in the mid ’90s, the community is banding together again to protect each other and fend off those who wish us harm. And we’re here for it.
Pride is a time to celebrate unsung heroes. Is there anyone you’d like to see get some more of the spotlight this year?
We wouldn’t be able to do this without standing on the shoulders of some musical giants who paved the way. They include Freddie Mercury, Rob Halford, Dusty Springfield, k.d. lang and Elton John. But others like Fred Schneider, Neil Tenant, Sylvester, Divine, Joan Jett, and our friends Chuck Panozzo and Dug Pinnick should be celebrated just as much.
Chuck is the co-founder and original bassist for Styx, whose posters I had on my wall when I was a kid. Dug is the bassist and singer for King’s X, a very influential band for me. Both of these guys are close friends and support us, which is an unbelievable thing when I stop and think about it. When your musical heroes rave about your band, it’s a bucket list moment. My other personal unsung hero is my best friend, Patti. She’s been through everything with me. Picked me up when I fell, dusted me off, and pushed me out in the world again, all the while telling me to be proud of who I am. You don’t get more “hero” than that.
Do you have a memory of Pride Months past that you’d like to share?
2019 was the most special Pride month for me as I married the love of my life, Philip, on June 7th. It brought all the Prides I have experienced full circle and reinforced that feeling of not only being out and proud of who you are but to share in that moment with family, both chosen and biological. I didn’t grow up thinking I’d ever be able to marry, much less a Prince Charming would show up. But he did.
What do you have planned for June (and the rest of 2023?)
GayC/DC will be releasing a cover version of Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” as part of an anti-bullying campaign, and we couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out. Yes, an AC/DC cover band releasing a song by another 70’s band. But we were asked, and we jumped at the chance to spin a different version of a classic song. And one that will hopefully inspire people to stand up for those who cannot and inspire those who are struggling to come to terms with themselves to be who they are always.
There’s a great big community just waiting to accept and love you unconditionally.
Do you have a Pride 2023 message to share?
Be an ally, be a friend, be true to yourself, and if you see someone struggling, be a light in their darkness. These are very scary times for our community right now. We’ve seen what we thought was impossible come into being. But we’ve also seen strength, resistance, and love from our allies. It has not gone unnoticed. Keep being there for us. We love you for that.
Keep checking HollywoodLife throughout June for more entries in The Sound of Pride and additional Pride Month coverage. And remember — fix your hearts or die!
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