Brontez Purnell

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Brontez Purnell
Purnell at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Born (1982-07-02) July 2, 1982 (age 41)
Occupation(s)Author, musician, dancer
Years active2003–present
Notable workSince I Laid My Burden Down
Awards2018 Whiting Award

Brontez Purnell (born July 2, 1982)[1] is an American writer, musician, dancer, and director based out of Oakland, California.[2][3] He is the author of several award-winning books, including Since I Laid My Burden Down (2017),[4] 100 Boyfriends (2022), which won a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction,[5] and the punk zine Fag School.[6] Purnell is the frontman for the punk band The Younger Lovers[4] and is the founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Purnell grew up in Triana, Alabama.[7] His great-grandfather, "Hard Rock" Charlie Malone, an accomplished bottleneck guitarist who played the Chitlin' Circuit from Chattanooga to Chicago in the 1930s, was the father of the musician J.J. Malone.[8][9] Purnell created his first zine, Schlepp Fanzine, at the age of 14.[10][3]


After moving to Oakland at 19,[11] he created Fag School[10] out of "wanting there to be a Sassy for gay boys."[6] "I hadn't really seen a zine or at least a personal gay zine that dealt with the difficult subject of gay sex with both humor and frank talk. It covered some real issues."[10]

His electro rock band Gravy Train!!!! gained national prominence for their live shows.[12] His punk band The Younger Lovers started in 2003 as a bedroom demo project.[13]

Purnell has created music under his own name since 2020. On July 19, 2023, Purnell released his solo album No Jack Swing.[14] When asked to describe the album, he said that "I [...] allowed myself to just be a pretty Black boy making a pop record—and like, why the fuck shouldn’t I?"[15]


In 2018, Purnell was awarded a Whiting Award for fiction.[16]

In 2022, Purnell was awarded the Robert Rauschenberg Award for Performance Art/Theater,[17] and the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction.[18]

On June 1, 2021, he was named a winner of the Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize from the Lambda Literary Foundation.[19]


Much of his work focuses on sex and sexuality. "In my work I try to use 'sex' or the body as this thing that does not create boundaries or separation with an audience, but instead gives my audience back their humanity."[20] He is gay.[6]


  • The Cruising Diaries (2014)
  • Johnny Would You Love Me if My Dick Were Bigger (2015)
  • Since I Laid My Burden Down (2017)[4]
  • 100 Boyfriends (2021)[21]
  • 10 Bridges I've Burnt (2024)


  1. ^ Ramírez, Juan A. (2022-06-15). "Brontez Purnell Brings His Disparate Parts Back to the Dance Stage". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  2. ^ "Brontez Purnell". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  3. ^ a b "Naked Soap Operas: An Interview with Brontez Purnell - Art in America". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  4. ^ a b c "The Truth at the Heart of Brontez Purnell's Since I Laid My Burden Down". MTV News. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  5. ^ "2022 Winners". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2022-08-25.
  6. ^ a b c "'I'm in the Band' Ep. 2: Brontez Purnell Talks Growing Up Black, Gay & Punk". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  7. ^ a b "Brontez Purnell Is Everything". Granta Magazine. 2017-07-05. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  8. ^ "Guide to the J.J. Malone Audiovisual Collection". Retrieved 2023-08-06.
  9. ^ "I've Listened to This Breakup Song a Million Times". The New York Times. August 1, 2023. Retrieved 2023-08-06.
  10. ^ a b c Miles, Frank J (2012-01-02). "Brontez Purnell: Love, Compassion, and Rock & Roll". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  11. ^ "The Legendary Queer Punk Rocker and Hysterical Author Whose Book You Need to Read". MEL Magazine. 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  12. ^ "Five Reasons to Love Brontez Purnell and The Younger Lovers". Colorlines. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  13. ^ "VIDEO PREMIERE: Punk band The Younger Lovers gives a triumphant, fun (and trippy) ode to the working class with "Whiskey And Water"". 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  14. ^ "No Jack Swing, by Brontez Purnell". Brontez Purnell. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  15. ^ "Suki Waterhouse, Brontez Purnell, Cautious Clay, and More on the Music That Fuels Them". Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  16. ^ Purnell, Brontez (2018-03-21). "Brontez Purnell, Fiction". The Paris Review. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  17. ^ "Brontez Purnell | FCA Grant Recipient". Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  18. ^ "MCD | Brontez Purnell Wins the Lambda Award!". MCD. Retrieved 2023-09-14.
  19. ^ Leah Rachel Van Essen, "Announcing The Winners of the 2021 Lambda Literary Awards". Book Riot, June 2, 2021.
  20. ^ "Brontez Purnell on Doing as Much as Possible". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  21. ^ "100 Boyfriends". FSG Originals. Archived from the original on 2020-09-29. Retrieved 2020-12-10.