Out Pop Pioneer Steve Bronski Dead at 61

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday December 9, 2021
Originally published on December 9, 2021

Steve Bronski, the out musician and co-founder of gay pop trio Bronski Beat, has died at age 61, BBC News reported.

"Bronski, from Glasgow, was born Steve Forrest and formed the group in 1983 with singer Jimmy Somerville and fellow-musician Larry Steinbachek," the BBC recalled. "They enjoyed UK top 10 hits with the gay anthem 'Smalltown Boy,' 'Why?,' and a cover of Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love.' "

"All three members of the band were out as gay and sought to counter what they perceived as the inoffensive nature of the era's gay performers by embracing explicitly political themes in their music," noted UK newspaper the Guardian. "America's Spin magazine described them as 'perhaps the first real gay group in the history of pop'."

"Bronski Beat's debut single, 1984's 'Smalltown Boy,' tells the story of a gay teenager leaving his family and prejudice in his hometown for an uncertain life in London," the Guardian added. "The record's inner groove was etched with the number of the London Gay Switchboard."

"The trio's debut album, 'The Age of Consent,' also released in 1984, listed the ages of consent for gay sex in countries around the world," the Guardian detailed.

Not only was the trio comprised of three out gay men, but the group's origins were bound up with LGBTQ+ culture from the very start.

"The group began when Bronski and Steinbachek met Somerville through a documentary called 'Framed Youth - Revenge of the Teenage Perverts,' which was made for an LGBTQ arts festival," the BBC recalled.

Somerville addressed Bronski's passing in a Twitter post, saying he was "Sad to hear Steve has died. He was a talented and a very melodic man."

Added Somerville: "Working with him on songs and the one song that changed our lives and touched so many other lives, was a fun and exciting time. Thanks for the melody, Steve."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.