Propagandhi supports the LGBTQ+ community

Band moved by RRC’s rural reach and the Orlando shooting

Propagandhi members Todd Kowalski, Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky (not pictured - Sulynn Hago) are donating merch proceeds to Rainbow Resource Centre.

Photo by Daniel Crump

They’re loud and they’re proud to support the LGBTQ+ community. 

Winnipeg punk/hardcore band Propagandhi recently donated more than $5,000 to Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC) – some much-appreciated money for the centre’s youth program. They raised the money by selling T-shirts with a rainbow flag and the band’s name. 

“It was really, really great. It’s exciting,” RRC executive director Mike Tutthill says. “We’re always appreciative of donations.”

The money will go towards food, bus tickets and supplies for youth who learn about healthy relationships, body image, harm reduction, positive self-esteem and the history of the community. 

Propagandhi first let the world know of their support of the community back in 1996 when they released their second album Less Talk, More Rock. Their pro-LGBTQ+ album upset the Nazis and homophobes at their shows, but Propagandhi didn’t care.

More than 20 years later, the band continues to support the community. 

“I think growing up in rural Manitoba in the ’80s also makes us really appreciate the outreach RRC does for people outside the city,” guitarist and vocalist Chris Hannah says. He started the band with drummer Jord Samolesky in Portage la Prairie, Man. 

“It was an extremely homophobic time and place,” Hannah says. “It makes me sad to think back and wonder how many kids had to go through it alone and hide themselves or get shitkicked, tormented or excommunicated because our community was so fucked.”

Another reason the band decided to donate to RRC is because of the Orlando, Fla. shooting at Pulse nightclub, where 50 people were killed and 53 were injured in June 2016. 

Guitarist Sulynn Hago, who is the newest addition to the band, lives in Tampa, Fla. and was shaken by the attack. 

“Being gay myself … it just really hit close to home,” she says. “The things you don’t want to feel that are true. There’s so much hostility or animosity towards the community. There was a concrete event that made that real.” 

Hago donated blood for the survivors of the attack.

“The response was insane,” she says.

She returned to the clinic three times before she could actually donate because it was so busy. 

“I walked into the room and there was a bunch of people – not everyone in seats because there’s that many people – people standing, sitting on the middle, little magazine coffee table,” she says. 

“There was a sense of a connection. It just felt really heartfelt. There was a somber type grief in the room but almost this care. This moral responsibility to fucking do something, as little as you can to support the situation.”

Propagandhi has long supported animal rights and stood against racism, sexism, homophobia and government malpractices.  

With so many horrible things happening in the world, bassist Todd Kowalski says he finds hope in the small things. 

“This donation to Rainbow Resource Centre gives me hope,” he says. “Just anybody doing good stuff for people.” 

Propagandhi is working on their next album and will hit the studio in March at Private Ear Recording.

“I think it has been the most fun we have ever had making a record because we’ve somehow relaxed a little bit. But we like to play fast. There’s always that,” Kowalski says. 

It’s good news the band has a deadline, because Kowalski says he’s never done writing a song until it’s time to record. For him, lyrics are the hardest part. 

“Chris is really picky. I’m probably more picky, probably to what they call a fault. It drives me crazy, and sometimes I’ll rewrite the same song so it’s not even similar to the first version,” Kowalski says.

Their song “Dark Matters” on Failed States is an example of that. It used to be a song about genocide and the meaning completely changed over the years.

Kowalski says the sound on the new album will be different than their 2012 album Failed States. 

“We always try to make it different. Always always,” Kowalski says. “This time, we’ve been making our songs as a three-piece again, because Sulynn lives in Tampa.”

Hago is coming to Winnipeg to record what will be her first album with the band. 

“With recording, even as much as you prepare, you never know what’s going to happen,” she says.  “Sometimes, whatever challenge that a certain recording and an album brings, it’s almost like that adds to the sound and the experience of the album. I’m all for it.”

Guitarist David "The Beaver" Guillas will also join them on the record.

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Published in Volume 71, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 19, 2017)

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