Ripped mangled clothes, dark black clothing, spiky and messy hair– these are all signs of a true punk kid. However, through the years punk has become more than just a style or music genre, it’s become a movement. “Safety and inclusive” is the mantra of punk musicians and fans everywhere. Arguably, it may be more important than ever.

Dating back to the ‘safety pin’ era of punk clothing, the subculture has often been pioneers of acceptance. Today, this remains true. Bands and fans alike find ways to promote inclusivity and safety in the community.

Bands like Modern Baseball, Green Day, The Wonder Years, and many others have been at the forefront of inclusivity in the scene.

Modern Baseball has been making press with its intersectional inclusiveness. In fact, the band even retired a song after realizing the self-deprecation behind the word “bitch”. Word choice and language matters and Modern Baseball has been able to recognize this and take strides to present the punk community in a positive environment. More iconically, the band has put together a hotline to report any unsafe behavior that occurs at the concert and ask for an escort to ensure that their fans feel safe, even amongst a rowdy crowd.

Green Day, being the music icons they are, has continued its pattern of political messages. For MLK Day, the band released an anti-Trump and acceptance music video to curb bigotry from our political climate. While this is nothing out of character for the band, Green Day’s ability to use its influence to promote love and not hate even during a comeback truly defines what it means to be punk legends.

A list of punk love would not be complete without mentioning The Wonder Years– a band dedicated to all types of political disruption. Frontman, Dan Campbell, has continuously advocated for political activism and constantly reminds audiences to love and help each other. Campbell has often advertised protests focused on creating a more accepting America, especially recently in lieu of recent Trump immigration bans. For Campbell, however, the movement goes beyond talk… it’s all about action. The singer even did a livestream to encourage Americans to get out and vote. From huge political issues to more personal mental struggles, this band has covered it all.

The punk scene does not just stop there. Many musicians have tackled mental health issues. Real Friends’s frontman shared his story about anxiety and why he needed to put his mental health first. Opening up on these issues has created an atmosphere and understanding in the community. Representation of mentally ill individuals helps make the scene great and helps define what it means to be human. Bands being open about who they are truly helps fans do the same.

Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco has been open about his sexuality from the beginning, allowing fans to identify with an icon. Panic! has even sold “Girls Love Girls and Boys” shirts to raise money for LGBT charities. It’s no surprise that the punk scene has created a space of love for everyone– no matter gender identity or sexuality. Modern Baseball even has gender neutral bathrooms at its gigs, allowing everyone to pee in peace.

You see, being punk doesn’t mean being aggressive, mean, or cruel. Being punk means being confident in who you are. Many teenagers especially struggle with fitting in as it is, but creating an environment of acceptance helps those who may be a bit more lost. One punk LGBT female said, “Those things, sexuality, race, gender identity, being incorporated made me feel more normal.” And perhaps normalizing difference is the goal of the community. Maybe not.

Maybe there isn’t a goal at all, but at the end of the day, it has and will continue to achieve it. This is a scene for everyone that we here at APU are proud to be a part of.