Steve Bronski of Bronski Beat passed away this week. He was 61 years old.
I wasn’t aware of Bronski Beat when their debut single, “Smalltown Boy”, was released in 1984. It wasn’t until I was in college in later 1986 that I discovered the band and started enjoying their albums and single releases. I instantly fell in love with their synths, and Hi-NRG music, and then started listening to their lyrics and realized this group was something special for the gay community.
A few elements of “Smalltown Boy” has always held some truth for me. As a Gen-X gay man I consider myself quite lucky; my parents were mostly fine with my homosexuality and I’ve always felt love and acceptance at home. Both of my parents were awesome in many ways, including dealing with their only son being gay. I’ve been blessed, many of my age and to this day are not nearly as lucky.
The video for “Smalltown Boy” has a couple of scenes that I can relate to, mostly around where Jimmy Somerville is encouraged by his gay friends to approach another young man and profess his interest in him and the results of the interaction turning less than positive. Even though it’s been over 35 years I still have a hard time with that similar moment in my past. A couple of gay friends encouraged me to approach someone that I knew was gay and muster up the courage to show an interest in him and it didn’t turn out well. I wasn’t hurt physically too much and there was thankfully no gang or police or anything involved as shown in the music video situation, but it was still a lot for me to handle that I handled alone and got through it. The biggest hurt I felt was the betrayal from what I believed to be friends that understood me because they were like me. They really weren’t like me, they just shared the attraction to the same sex. It was good to leave them behind.
The messages in the music by Bronski Beat was important during the 1980s, in addition to just being good music. RIP Steve Bronski. Thank you for doing your part to help life for LGBTQ+ folks a little bit easier and more importantly, thank you for your music.