Earlier this month we learned that Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has come out as transgender and today we learn that she, now Laura Jane Grace, performed with her band for the first time since coming out. Against Me! performed a show in San Diego, CA a few days ago and Laura lead the group as usual. Click below to see a photo and read more about Laura Jane Grace’s first show as the frontwoman of Against Me!
Against Me! singer-guitarist Tommy Gabel made her live debut as Laura Jane Grace on Friday, performing with the band under her new name for the first time since coming out as transgender. Charging through a 40-minute set at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay in San Diego – the first stop in a month-long U.S. tour with British rockers the Cult – the quartet played six new songs, including the rollicking anthem “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” the title track of an album they’re working on. Decked out in a loose-fitting black tank top, tight black jeans and black eye shadow, Grace was in high spirits as she delivered her trademark, throat-shredding screams. “I was worried that some people expected me to come out looking like Little Bo Peep or something,” Grace said after the show while hanging out at the merch table with her wife, Heather. (They’re doing the tour as a family; their toddler daughter, Evelyn, was sleeping with a nanny in the tour bus.) Though Grace says she’s open to having a dialogue about her transition with fans, she kept stage banter to a minimum and never brought up her coming out or new name in between songs. Since many of the concertgoers were Cult fans who weren’t familiar with Against Me!, the show wasn’t exactly ideal for a punk-rock heart-to-heart. For his part, longtime fan Jimmy Gomez, 23, doesn’t think Grace needs to explain anything. “She did it for herself, not for anybody else. This is about her,” he said. “She’s doing something she really loves now and she’s really happy – that’s really awesome.” Thanks to the outdoor venue’s seating arrangements, a mosh pit never did break out during the set, but a handful of fans got up to sing along. When Grace belted out the lines to “The Ocean,” a revealing track from the band’s 2007 album New Wave – “If I could have chosen / I would have been born a woman” – fans broke into cheers and applause. “I really support her in being able to come out to everyone,” said Maddie Leyland, 18. “I’m excited to see what happens to the band, too, what they all do with it.” Grace is two weeks into hormone replacement therapy. The process involves redistribution of her body’s muscle mass, and she was worried about how it would affect her stamina. The band talked before the show about taking some time between songs, but they ended up just powering through the set. The only problem Grace encountered was her guitar cutting out during one song. While the band spanned its discography with classics like “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” much of the set was devoted to new songs: “Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ,” “Dead Friend,” “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Drinking with the Jocks” and “Black Me Out.”
While there is sure to be horrible negativity and backlash from Grace’s bravery, I continue to be heartened by the fact that she is getting so much support from family, friends and fans. I can’t even imagine the fortitude of strength it takes for someone to be so open about their personal life like this but I applaud Grace and her family for just living their lives. As I mentioned before, I’m not an Against Me! fan but I am a huge fan and supporter of anyone who is brave enough to share this much of themselves in this way. I dunno, I feel like I’m not expressing how I feel properly. I just have so much respect for Laura Jane Grace’s ability to stay true to who she is while undergoing a huge life change. I wish Laura, her family and Against Me! all the best and I look forward to reading more positive updates like this one.