Steve Bronski, one-third of the influential British synth-pop band and gay pop pioneers  Bronski Beat, has passed away at the age of 61. No cause of death  was released. 

Bandmate Jimmy Somerville posted on social media, “Sad to hear Steve Bronski has  died. He was a talented and a very melodic man. 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.” 

Smalltown Boy

 

Bronski, who was a keyboardist, programmer, percussionist, and  acoustic guitar player, joined forces with bandmates Larry  Steinbachek and Somerville in 1983 and created one of the most  iconic Queer songs in music history.  

1984’s Smalltown Boy, tells the story of an alienated working class  gay teen who, facing prejudice and hate at home, leaves for a new life in London. The song was a massive hit, reaching number three on the  UK charts, while charting highly internationally, reaching the top ten in  Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland and West  Germany. 

The lyrics to Smalltown Boy still maintain their power years later and  evoke the common feelings of alienation and loneliness of many gay  youth. “Mother will never understand why you had to leave/But the  answers you seek will never be found at home/The love that you need  will never be found at home.” 

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The music video, directed by Bernard Rose, remains a classic of the  era with its defiantly Queer sensibilities. Somerville is featured in the  video as a teen, longing for the affection of a diver, who later attacks him with the help of his skinhead gang. The police return Somerville to  his family who are unaware their son is gay. The disapproval of his  father leads Somerville to pack his bags and head for London. The  video was highly controversial at the time of its release with its raw  sensuality, blended with anguish and longing. 

‘We Were Three Gay Guys Who Started A Band’

In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Bronski said, ”At the time we  were just three gay guys who started a band. We didn’t feel like part  of any particular movement. Of course, it would transpire many years later that there were more gay artists than the public were led to  believe.” 

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All three of the band members were openly gay and politically active  and the band were unapologetic activists for Queer issues. Bronski, who was born Steve Forrest in Glasgow, Scotland, told Melody Maker in 1984 that his family did not accept the fact he was gay. 

The title of the band’s debut album The Age of Consent was a  reference to the fact that the legal age of consent for gay sex in the  UK at the time was 21 while many other European countries had lowered it to the age of 16, on par with heterosexual sex. 

The inner sleeve of the album included notes on the age of consent  for gay sex in other international countries. The notes were not  included on the album’s US release. 

‘There Is Still A Long Way To Go’

The album also included the singles Why? and I Feel Love (Medley) which both made the top ten charts in the UK. The album itself was a  solid hit, peaking at number four on UK album charts. 

Somerville left the band after the first album to form the Communards  with the Reverend Richard Coles but the two remaining members  carried on with Bronski Beat, along with new front men until 1995.  The band hit the UK top ten again in 1985 with their song Hit That Perfect Beat

When the band broke up, Bronski moved to Thailand for a number of  years. 

Steve Bronski reformed the band in 2016, with former member Ian  Donaldson and released The Age of Reason, which was a reworked  version of The Age of Consent.  

Bronski told Pennyblack Music at the time, “We should be living in an  age of reason. The Trans community should not live in fear, and gay  kids should not be bullied. We have come a long way, but there is still  a long way to go.”

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