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Gary Floyd, San Francisco Queer Punk Iconoclast, Has Died

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Gary Floyd (right) of The Dicks performs during the 2009 SXSW Music Festival on March 18, 2009 in Austin, Texas. (Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

Punk rock legend Gary Floyd, an unapologetic singer who helped start the queercore movement in the 1980s, has died from congenital heart failure at 71 years old, The Austin Chronicle reports.

In music as in life, Floyd championed anti-fascist, anti-oppression causes. Before his music career, he was a conscientious objector of the Vietnam War.

Floyd first rose to fame in Texas with his band The Dicks, whose 1980 single “Hate the Police” remains a hardcore anthem. Floyd’s bold stage presence with the band, sometimes in full drag, captivated audiences in Austin during the Raegan era, and their songs like “No Nazi’s Friend” became a rallying cry.

Through his Alternative Tentacles label, Jello Biafra released the Dicks’ 1985 album These People and reissued the band’s 1983 debut album Kill From the Heart.

“My God, a 300-pound communist drag queen who can sing like Janis Joplin,” Biafra said of seeing Floyd for the first time, in a 2000 Austin Chronicle interview.


Floyd relocated to San Francisco in 1982, where he remained for the rest of his life. There, he relaunched The Dicks, and played in newer bands, including Sister Double Happiness, Black Kali Ma and the Buddha Brothers.

“SF is changing so much,” Floyd told Maximum Rocknroll in 2014. “A city of money, rents are stupid but people somehow pay them. Many things that brought me here and kept me here are gone.”

Later in life, Floyd became a Buddhist, gave up drinking and pursued other artforms while struggling with diabetes and other health issues. His memoir Please Bee Nice: My Life Up ’Til Now was published in 2014, and his Dicks lyric book I Said That followed in 2017. In 2022, he exhibited his colorful, chaotic visual artworks at a solo show in Austin titled Maybe We’ll See Butterflies.

As Floyd’s friend Biafra remembered him today: “Out Queerpunk from the very beginning. Flamboyant, fierce; and a deeply spiritual being who did so much to lift so many hearts and spirits. A singer’s singer, truly. Punk, Southern Rock grunge, and especially the Blues. It all came from the blues, and he could touch and penetrate like no other.”

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