Around the World with Henry Rollins




One of the most pervasive themes I took from the book was resilience, which in a very different context is something the gay community is familiar with.
Yeah, you’d have to be.

But does having seen so much destruction in the world make something like the fight for marriage equality seem insignificant in scale?

No, it makes it part of a rich tapestry of what keeps me optimistic about humans. As deplorable as some of these locations have been, the upshot of all of it is, it makes me like people more. I see how heartbreakingly friendly these people can be and how they will always skew towards dignity, generosity, and compassion — even when their surroundings are abysmal. And that, to me, is marriage equality and civil rights for gay people in America.

You’ve been very vocal in your support.
I personally think all marriages are crazy, in that I would never be able to give half my record collection away just because of some stupid contract I signed, but I think Bill and Leon should be able to take that mad plunge if they see fit to do so. If you’re lucky enough to find someone that you wanted to make that wild promise with, who the hell is anyone to stop you? This is what the Founding Fathers — who Michele Bachmann says she loves so much but seems to know so little about — were strangling each other over in hot rooms in Philadelphia all those summers ago. This is what so many people took a musket ball in the face for. And this country should be the leader on all of that.

You’ve been setting a good example for decades. On Big Ugly Mouth, your second spoken word record, you tell a fun story about being in Little Rock on your 25th birthday and encountering a transgender woman named Peach.

Oh, yeah.

Even back then you handled the story with respect and dignity, which — not to get all judge-a-book-by-its-cover-y — is not what one might have expected from the lead singer of an ’80s punk rock band.
Black Flag was always a band of misfits that catered to other misfits. We had gay people at our shows, we had cross dressers. In San Francisco, there was Bambi Lake, who I’ve known since 1980-something. She would come to our shows in full Marlene Dietrich mode with her cassette of Marlene and she’d open for us, lip-synching. And even though this was San Francisco, where you’d think everyone was open-minded, there would always be that faction of the audience who wanted to climb up onstage and beat her up. We saw homophobia at our gigs, but we always had that misfit alliance. So, when Peach sat on my lap [in Little Rock], I was like, I’ll have this conversation. It’s not freaking me out. [Laughs] I get hit on by men. At this point, with all the gray hair I have, I take it is nothing but a compliment: “It’s not the bolt of cloth I’m cut from, but thank you.”

Tags: Books