You are here: Homepage > Writing > QiYE main > QiYE article list > QiYE 43: Bob Mould

That stubborn Mould problem

[Originally published 1995 |
Updated here 1999.06.20

Bob Mould is an accomplished, respected, influential rock god. He's also a fag. That may sound unduly harsh; you might prefer euphemisms like gay, queer, or homosexualist. Bob would no doubt find those terms equally irrelevant and vexatious, but his reasons for thinking that way are far from noble. In fact, in Miss Mould we may have found the first more-or-less-out-of-the-closet rock & roll enemy of the gay community. (I use that phrase advisedly; read on.)

Background: In the early '80s, Mould led Hüsker Dü into alternative-rock stardom. He mated the wildly destructive wail of feedbacky electric guitar with bellowed angst-ridden lyrics. (The album title Black Sheets of Rain aptly telegraphs the emotions of Mould's soundscape.) Less danceable and head-bangable than punk rock but steeped in it like an eagle egg in DDT, Hüsker Dü appealed to the hip intellectual rock fan, the kind who would spin a Talking Heads album for polite company and Fear or Black Flag for his or her shitkicker friends.

"Hardly Getting Over It" (from Candy Apple Grey, 1986) goes: "Twenty years ago, [I] saw a friend was walking by, and I stopped him on the street to ask him how it went, and all he did was cry. I looked him in the face... asked him what the problem was. He says, 'Here is your disguise.'" (Disguise, Bob?) From "All This I've Done for You," same album: "Now I see you. You want to ask me, I want you to ask me, `What does it matter? What does it mean?' Sometimes I don't know why you want to try and help me." This couldn't possibly be about gay "labels," could it?

I'm not the only one who thinks so, and even in the context of Mould's current band Sugar he is constantly faced with yes-but-you're-actually-gay-aren't-you? questioning. It was only in 1994, in a Spin interview with Dennis Cooper (of all people!), that Bob made his clearest-yet statement of what those in the know had long realized. But the way he confirmed that fact (or vigourously failed to deny it) sounded like the dying confessional of a long-sinning priest.

"I don't think it's any kind of secret within the music industry and within the fan base at large what my sexual preference is..... I was born with it.... I am not a fucking freak," Mould said, as though someone were accusing him of being one. "I don't like the word gay because I don't know what the word really means.... I'm not your spokesperson, because I don't know what you're about.... I do not flaunt my sexuality. I do not deny my sexuality. It is my sexuality. It is not the public's sexuality... I'm not a fucking freak, or at least not because of that."

Well, Bob, we're not freaks either, even the most freakish of us. Little Miss Queer in Your Ear here is but a humble writer, but Bob and I are mutual counterexamples to some extent. I have little interest in Toronto's downtown gay scene, loathe the ghetto, and find little to attract me (in all senses) to most members of our diverse lesbiana, gay, bisexual, and transgenderist communities. Queers as outsiders? Honey, you don't know from outsider.

Like Bob, I too was "born with it," but unlike him, I don't try to fight or deny reality. I make no claim that, though I may feel no kinship with sharks, cod, herring, and salmon, I am not a fish. Whether I endorse or deplore the actions, statements, voting habits, political affiliations, musical tastes, preferred fonts, choice of Macintosh vs. Windows, or fashion sense of members of our diverse communities, I don't pretend I'm not gay (or a fag, or queer). And most of all, I do not suggest that other gays, fags, and queers are freaks!

By kvetching about people's opinion of him long after the horse of homosexuality has bolted from his walk-in closet, Bob egoistically slanders his own people.

This is 1995. Elton John, Pete Townshend, David Bowie, and even Michael Stipe (who finally avows to bisexuality in the February Details) are only some of the big-name rocker guys who have owned up to homo- or bisexuality and lived to tell.

Bob's big mouth may become his undoing. I'd say he needs a good talking to by a couple of drag queens. Any volunteers?