Punk band The Queers comes under fire in Ottawa

Update: The Queers show at Mavericks in Ottawa will take place as scheduled. 

Pop Goes The News — Promoters have pulled the plug on a concert in Ottawa by American punk rock band The Queers after community activists accused the group of being racist and transphobic.

The Queers, though, insist they will still be playing in Ottawa. The band also has shows scheduled at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern on Feb. 22 and at Montreal’s Katacombes on Feb. 23.

“This band is known for holding and perpetuating anti-Black and transmisogynist views,” reads a change.org petition posted by Babely Shades, a group of “feminine people of colour” in Ottawa’s music scene.

“By taking a passive stance and allowing them to play in Ottawa, we are consenting to this anti-Blackness and transmisogyny in our music scene … and we are actively supporting their financial success as a band so they can continue to perform and perpetuate these views in other cities without holding them accountable to their words.”

As evidence, Babely Shades points to a 2014 Facebook post by lead singer Joe King (aka Joe Queer) in which he offered support to Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson police officer who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown. “A man of peace in a world of mayhem,” King wrote about Wilson. “Thank you for your service.”

Babely Shades called on the venue, Mavericks, and promoters The Diamond Mine Agency to cancel the Feb. 21 concert.

“Let’s make Ottawa the city where oppressive bands don’t go,” reads the petition, which has so far collected only a little more than 100 supporters.

A petition posted in response to the Babely Shades campaign countered that King “has been very vocal in his denunciation of the militarization of the US police and police brutality around the world yet didn’t hesitate to stick up for what he felt was right in Ferguson, MO. Right or wrong it’s hardly racist to stick up for a police officer one time.”

It accused activists of launching a “misguided attempt to hurt a band that has done nothing but support gay rights and minorities for over 20 years in the punk scene.”

Concert promoter The Diamond Mine Agency, explained on Facebook it made “an educated decision” to cancel the gig due to “the amount of negative messages we were receiving.”

It added: “We felt as though it was getting out of hand and we felt it was in our best interest and our communities (sic) to cancel the date for now.”

On Facebook, The Queers assured disappointed fans late Friday: “Ottawa is still happening!” No details were provided.

The Babely Shades campaign against The Queers sparked Ottawa musician Greg Harris to post a petition of his own that called on the activists “to improve the quality and credibility of your anti-Queers online petition.”

Harris said the opposition is “based on flimsy, poorly sourced hearsay evidence of racism and transmisogyny on the part of one of the band members.”

He said the effort to “remove pay from the pockets of working musicians was poorly executed” and described the petition as “a severe abuse of social justice power.”

Harris elaborated in a blog posting.

The Toronto concert is — at the time of this posting — still being promoted. The Montreal venue’s website does not list the show.

Formed in 1981 in New Hampshire, The Queers have released 11 studio albums and more than two dozen EPs, live albums and compilations.

The band’s version of the 1963 single “Wipe Out” was used in the 2007 animated movie Surf’s Up.