Pansy Division

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Pansy Division
Pansy Division performing in 2016
Pansy Division performing in 2016
Background information
OriginSan Francisco, California, United States
Years active1991–present

Pansy Division is an American rock band formed in San Francisco, California, United States, in 1991 by guitarist and singer-songwriter Jon Ginoli along with bassist Chris Freeman.[3]

Conceived as the first openly gay rock band featuring predominantly gay musicians, Pansy Division's music, a mix of pop punk[4] and power pop, focuses mainly on LGBT issues, sex and relationships, often presented in a humorous light.[5] In 1993, the band signed to punk label Lookout! Records and received international notoriety touring with Green Day in 1994, becoming the most commercially successful band of the queercore movement which began in the 1980s.[6]

Pansy Division has released seven studio albums and three B-side compilations, among other recordings. In 2008, the band was the subject of a documentary film entitled Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band.



Frustrated by the lack of openly gay rock musicians, Jon Ginoli started performing solo sets under the moniker Pansy Division (a pun on Panzer division and a commonly-used anti-gay slur "pansy") around San Francisco.[7] Shortly after this, in 1991, Ginoli placed an ad in the San Francisco Weekly looking for "gay musicians into the Ramones, Buzzcocks and early Beatles". This caught the attention of Chris Freeman, who joined the band as a bassist.[8] Ginoli and Freeman then recruited drummer Jay Paget, forming the first entirely out gay rock band that any of them had known.[7] They hoped to defy the stereotype that gay men preferred pop divas and showtunes, by playing punk rock music.[9]

Lookout! years (1993–2000)[edit]

Following extensive touring in California, several 7" singles and compilation appearances, Pansy Division signed to Lookout! Records, released their first album, Undressed in March 1993. They then embarked on their first national tour.

In 1994, with the release of their second album Deflowered and an appearance on Outpunk's seminal compilation Outpunk Dance Party, the band had proven themselves to be one of the more prolific and well-known artists to spring from the budding queercore movement. Catching the wave of pop punk's mainstream explosion, Pansy Division were asked to tour with Green Day on the band’s 1994 Dookie tour, introducing the group and queercore to a larger audience.[10] During the tour's New York stop, the band caught the attention of Howard Stern, who met them backstage, and spent a segment talking about them on his nationally syndicated radio show.[11][12]

While signed to Lookout!, the band continued to release an album every year. In 1995, Pansy Division released the album Pile Up notable for its various cover songs, included Ned Sublette's "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (covered as "Smells Like Queer Spirit"). During their tour of eastern Canada in 1995, the band took a set of underwear shots in an old hotel, and produced a set of Pansy Division trading cards that were used as promotional materials for the next album.[13][14] In 1996, the album Wish I'd Taken Pictures featured the single "I Really Wanted You". The music video for this single aired once on MTV.[15] In 1997, the album More Lovin' From Our Oven collected a large number of B-sides that the band had already released as singles.

During this period, Pansy Division primarily performed as a trio, with Freeman and Ginoli being the only constant members amid a slew of perpetually rotating drummers, both gay and straight.[16] In 1996, the band finally found a permanent gay drummer in the form of Luis Illades. In 1997, the band became a quartet with the addition of lead guitarist Patrick Goodwin.[17]

1998 saw the release of Pansy Division's fifth studio album Absurd Pop Song Romance, a departure from earlier Pansy work that featured less humorous, more introspective lyrics and a darker, two-guitar layered alternative rock sound.[18] The band was again taken on tour by a mainstream punk band, when they opened for Rancid on their 1998 Life Won't Wait tour.[19][20]

Alternative Tentacles years (2001–present)[edit]

Pansy Division performing in 2007.

In 2001, Pansy Division was finally ready to record another album, but the lack of support from Lookout! caused the band to leave their long-time label and sign with Alternative Tentacles later that year.[21] What resulted was 2003's Total Entertainment!, an album that the band described as a meeting point between the lighthearted humor of their early work and the introspective rock of their previous album. Goodwin left the band the following year, being temporarily replaced by Bernard Yin and then by former Mr. T Experience member Joel Reader.

Following the release of Total Entertainment, Pansy Division's active touring and recording schedule declined as most of the members relocated to different parts of the country. The band continued to perform sporadically, usually at various gay pride festivals or local shows in San Francisco. In 2006, Alternative Tentacles released The Essential Pansy Division, a comprehensive 'best-of' compilation featuring thirty tracks picked by Ginoli and a DVD of various video footage.[22] This compilation was motivated by the longer period of inactivity, and the idea that Pansy Division might be over.[23]

However, in 2007, Pansy Division launched their first national tour since 2003 with reformed San Francisco punk band the Avengers, whose line-up featured both Illades and Reader. Then, in 2008, the band became the subject of a documentary film entitled Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, directed by Michael Carmona. The film toured internationally, playing at various LGBT film festivals; it was released on DVD in 2009 and later also on YouTube.[24]

2009 also saw the release of Pansy Division's seventh studio album, titled That's So Gay, a live DVD, another national tour, and Ginoli's memoirs, a biography of the band entitled Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division. The album was put together largely remotely, as band members worked from different cities.[25]

After a seven-year break from recording, Pansy Division returned in 2016 with Quite Contrary.[26][27] This album includes a holiday song about being single on New Year's Eve "Kiss Me at Midnight (New Year’s Eve)"; a song about internet dating "Too Much to Ask"; as well as a poignant break-up song "Something Beautiful".[28][29] Jon has performed "Kiss Me at Midnight (New Year’s Eve)" solo, since the band members live in different cities.[30] The single released with this album is "Blame the Bible" (A-side) / "Neighbors of the Beast" (B-side). A music video was also produced for the song "Blame the Bible".[31][32]

In 2017, Pansy Division was included in the documentary film Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution directed by Yony Leyser.[33]

In November 2022, Pansy Division released a video for the 30th anniversary of their first single, "Fem in a Black Leather Jacket"; that video is available on their YouTube channel. In March 2023, they also released a series of three interviews for the 30th anniversary of the release of their first album Undressed.[34][35] Those interviews featured discussions with the cover model Alex Fazekas-Paul, recording engineer Kent Whitesell, and Lookout! Records' Larry Livermore. In the summer of 2023 they also have planned a short US tour for the anniversary.[36][37]

In interviews, Ginoli has said that he plans to release a solo album eventually.[38] Chris Freeman has recently been touring with the AC/DC cover band GayC/DC.[39] In July 2022, Pansy Division played the Mosswood Meltdown, a large outdoor music festival in Oakland, California.[40] As of May 2023, Pansy Division has played 976 shows.[41] Pansy Division continues to play shows in 2023 as they inch toward their goal of having played 1,000 shows.[42][43][44][45][46]



Studio albums


  • Jon Ginoli. Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division. Cleis Press, 2009. ISBN 1-57344-343-3.
  • Philipp Meinert. Homopunk History: Von den Sechzigern bis in die Gegenwart. (in German) Ventil Verlag, 2018. ISBN 978-3-95575-094-7.
  • Liam Warfield, Walter Crasshole, Yony Leyser (eds). Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution: An Oral History. PM Press, 2021. ISBN 1629637963.


  1. ^ Byrom, Cory D. (March 5, 2006). "Pansy Division - The Essential". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Thompson, Stephen (September 16, 1998). "Pansy Division". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  3. ^ Bagby, Dyana (April 4, 2024). "Deflowered Power: Gay punk band Pansy Division plays Atlanta on Friday". Rough Draft Atlanta. Archived from the original on April 16, 2024. Retrieved May 16, 2024.
  4. ^ Julie River (July 10, 2023). "Queer Punk Icon Jon Ginoli Talks 30 Years of Pansy Division". Our Front Magazine. Archived from the original on July 18, 2023.
  5. ^ DeChaine, D. Robert (1997). "Mapping subversion: Queercore music's playful discourse of resistance". Popular Music & Society. 21 (4): 7–37. doi:10.1080/03007769708591686.
  6. ^ Papa, Rocco (April 20, 2023). "Green Day Risked Their Mainstream Success By Insisting This Underground Pop Punk Band Open For Them On Tour". The Things. Archived from the original on April 22, 2023. Retrieved April 22, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Frequently Asked Questions Archived 2018-01-08 at the Wayback Machine,, accessed 30 July 2016.
  8. ^ Ten Quick Questions: Chris Freeman of Pansy Division Archived 2014-01-04 at the Wayback Machine, 28 September 2009, accessed 30 July 2016.
  9. ^ Pansy Division's Punk Beat Smashes Gay Stereotype, by Joshua Alston, Newsweek, 10 April 2009, accessed 30 July 2016.
  10. ^ Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli: The leader of America's foremost queer-punk band looks to the future—and the past, by Matt Schild, 11 Apr 2009, accessed 30 July 2016.
  11. ^ An Interview with Larry Livermore, Punk Rock Pravda, 12 January 2011, accessed 30 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Audio". Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  13. ^ Pansy Division (1996). Pansy Division Trading Cards. Pansy Division, archived at QZAP.
  14. ^ Ginoli, Jon (2009). Deflowered: My Life in Pansy Division. Cleis Press. ISBN 978-1573443432.
  15. ^ Boehm, Mike (February 15, 1996). "Everything's Coming Up Pansy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 16, 2023. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  16. ^ Anonymous Boy (1997). Pansy Division. Homopunk World #1.
  17. ^ Marbison, Leggs (November 1, 1997). "More Lovin' From Our Oven (Lookout!) An interview with Jon Ginoli". Lollipop Magazine. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023.
  18. ^ Thompson, Stephen (September 16, 1998). "Interviews: Pansy Division". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023.
  19. ^ INTERVIEW: Pansy Division by Alex Steininger, In Music We Trust, accessed 30 July 2016.
  20. ^ Hinks, Jeremy (August 8, 2019). "Pansy Division, Still holding On, and Passing the Torch". Instinct. Archived from the original on April 24, 2023. Retrieved April 24, 2023.
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  23. ^ "Pansy Division — The Essential Pansy Division". Punk Planet 74. July 1, 2006.
  24. ^ "Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band, PopMatters". PopMatters. April 22, 2009. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  25. ^ Carman, Keith (May 19, 2009). "Pansy Division That's So Gay". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  26. ^ Locker, Melissa (September 15, 2016). "Interview: Pansy Division: a quarter-century of queercore". The Guardian. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  27. ^ Portwood, Jerry (August 9, 2016). "Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli on Gay Punk Band's 25th Anniversary, New LP". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 21, 2023. Retrieved March 21, 2023.
  28. ^ Shapiro, Gregg (October 6, 2016). "Staying power: an interview with Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division". GOPRIDE. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  29. ^ "Episode 192: Jon Ginoli". RiYL Podcast. November 1, 2016. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  30. ^ Gerstenzang, Peter (September 9, 2016). "Queer Rock'n'Roll Pioneers Pansy Division Have Been Out, Proud, and Loud for 25 Years". Esquire. Archived from the original on May 17, 2022. Retrieved May 17, 2022.
  31. ^ White, Caitlin (September 29, 2016). "Premiere: Watch Queercore Legends Pansy Division Confront Homophobia In 'Blame The Bible'". Uproxx: the Culture of Now. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  32. ^ "Pansy Division release video for "Blame the Bible"". Punk Rock Theory. September 30, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2023.
  33. ^ Farber, Jim (September 20, 2018). "Queercore: behind a documentary reliving the gay punk movement". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 22, 2022. Retrieved October 22, 2022.
  34. ^ Thompson, Simon (June 10, 2023). "Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli Celebrates 'Undressed' Debut Turning 30". Forbes. Archived from the original on June 15, 2023. Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  35. ^ Brow, Jason (June 2, 2023). "Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli Reflects On 'Undressed' Turing 30: It Showed 'The Joyful Side' Of Being Gay (Exclusive)". Hollywood Life. Archived from the original on June 9, 2023. Retrieved June 9, 2023.
  36. ^ Callwood, Brett (May 15, 2023). "PANSY DIVISION JOURNEYS TO 16 LOVERS LANE". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on May 15, 2023. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  37. ^ River, Julie (May 8, 2023). "NEWS: PANSY DIVISION HIT THE ROAD TO CELEBRATE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF DEBUT ALBUM". New Noise Magazine. Archived from the original on May 8, 2023. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  38. ^ John "Jughead" Pierson (January 16, 2023). "Episode 159: Jon Ginoli of The Outnumbered and Pansy Division on LoFi Interviews with HiFi Guests". Jughead's Basement Podcast. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  39. ^ Blueskye, Brian (October 25, 2019). "Chris Freeman didn't want to live in a world without openly gay rock musicians. So he became one". Desert Sun. Archived from the original on November 29, 2022. Retrieved November 29, 2022.
  40. ^ Shapiro, Gregg (June 1, 2023). "The Persistence of Pansy Division: An Interview With Jon Ginoli". Lavender. Archived from the original on June 1, 2023. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  41. ^ "Punk Legends PANSY DIVISION Celebrates 30th Anniversary Of "Undressed" With U.S. Shows". XS Rock. May 14, 2023. Archived from the original on May 14, 2023. Retrieved May 14, 2023.
  42. ^ Walters, Maddie (October 24, 2022). "Music and Mayhem with Maddie: an interview with Jon Ginoli". The Collegian, University of Tulsa. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  43. ^ Blueskye, Brian (June 18, 2022). "Queercore band Pansy Division to bring Green Day-approved sound to The Alibi on June 30". Desert Sun. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  44. ^ Damian (July 6, 2020). "Episode 271 - Jon Ginoli (Pansy Division, The Outnumbered)". Turned Out A Punk Podcast. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  45. ^ Tom and Mark (June 15, 2022). "Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division and The Outnumbered". No Wristbands! We Drink For Free Podcast. Archived from the original on April 23, 2023. Retrieved April 23, 2023.
  46. ^ ANDY GENSLER (June 22, 2023). "Q's With Pansy Division's Jon Ginoli On Touring With Pride For 30+ Years". Pollstar. Archived from the original on February 3, 2024.

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