There have been gay musicians hidden throughout rock music history, but Pansy Division when began in 1991 in San Francisco, they were the first to to be so boldly open about it.  Founded by guitarist/singer Jon Ginoli and soon joined by bassist/vocalist Chris Freeman, with the intent of forming a gay rock band, Pansy Division blew the closet doors open.

Raised on a diet of 60s pop and 70s punk, their sound was suitably crunchy and catchy as hell. They wrote in-your-face lyrics, but did it with a sense of humor. Not only did their music and stance defy stereotypic norms of rock musicians being openly gay, they also broke gay cultural stereotypes that rock wouldn't interest gay people.

With album titles like Undressed and Deflowered, and song titles like "Bill & Ted's Homosexual Adventure," their bluntness and humor stood out amidst the '90s alterna-rock scene. Says Chris Freeman, "there was a lot of gay culture we couldn't relate to, so we tried to invent a place for ourselves in it, an alternative for other queer misfits." Having had the experience of being ostracized by other musicians for being gay and by other gays for being into rock, “we tried to turn our alienation into something positive,” says Ginoli. “Instead of being depressed about it, we tried to make music that would make us—and our audience—happy. We could laugh about it, so we put that joy into the music.”

Beginning in 1993, they put out an album a year for six years on Lookout Records. Their music caught the attention of former Lookout labelmates Green Day, who took Pansy Division on tour for a couple of months in 1994 at the height of the mania surrounding their breakthrough album Dookie. Says Ginoli, ”When we started our band we thought we’d be playing our music to people in their 20s & 30s who were gay or gay-friendly. Suddenly we faced thousands of high school kids each night, an amazing opportunity we never expected to have.” The response was decidedly mixed, but their popularity soared.

Pansy Division toured and recorded almost non-stop during the 1990s, along the way recruiting a permanent drummer (Luis Illades) and a lead guitarist (first Patrick Goodwin, now Joel Reader).

1998's Absurd Pop Song Romance was a departure from their earlier work, a more
serious album both lyrically and sonically. The followup album Total Entertainment! (for a new label, Alternative Tentacles) found a happy medium between the broad humor of the early records and the more (dare we say it?) mature approach of the previous album. In 2006, they released a 30-song career overview titled The Essential Pansy Division, which included a DVD of videos and concert footage.

Pansy Division‘s newest album, titled That’s So Gay, is raucous and raunchy as well as being serious-minded.  With some of their catchiest and most rocking songs ever, Pansy Division stand out among the 2009 crop--they're not morose folkies, electro cash-ins, or fashion victims. They're loads of fun without being ironic or cynical. Vice Magazine will hate it.

That’s So Gay was released in late March 2009. A documentary film about the band, Pansy Division: Life In A Gay Rock Band, played film festivals throughout 2008, and came out on DVD (with a bonus live DVD) at the same time. Also, Jon’s book Deflowered: My Life In Pansy Division, a memoir of Pansy Division stories and experiences, was released March 1, 2009. In addition, a 7” single of the song “Average Men” was released containing a new non-album track (a cover of a Green Day's "Coming Clean").

After touring in the summer and fall of 2009, things have been quiet on the PD front, playing the occasional gig now and then.

(For additional info, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page:


Chris Freeman—bass, vocals
Jon Ginoli—rhythm guitar, vocals
Luis Illades—drums
Joel Reader—lead guitar, vocals


Name: Christopher Mark Freeman
Instrument: Bass
Birthday: 8/8/61
Birthplace: Seattle, WA
Current residence: Tarzana, CA
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Boxers or briefs? Neither!
First job: McDonald's in Totem Lake Shopping Center, Kirkland, WA, 1977
Other past jobs: Sailboat mast rigging specialist for Spar Tech, Assistant Manager of Duplication for Muzak,
Video Editor for Wells Fargo Bank, Sales Auditor for Sephora, Financial Aid Administrator for Columbia
College- Hollywood
First band (& year): Relic, 1978
Came out at (list age): 20, May 12, 1982
Hobbies: sex, seeing films and bands, reading, writing, running, swimming, going to flea
markets/garage sales/thrift stores, collecting: toys, movies, CDs, vinyl, ephemera
Favorite color: electric purple or blue
Favorite foods: Thai, Indian, Jello, steamed veggies and chicken
Favorite drink: water
Favorite clothes: none! Oh ok, shorts and a t-shirt, but I do love to dress up!
Miscellaneous likes: laughter, holding hands, amusement parks, hairy-chested men in their 40’s and 50’s, a
sunny day with a light breeze at a beach
Miscellaneous dislikes: boredom, complainers, screaming children
Favorite song: "Happy Birthday"
Favorite bands (all-time): Beatles, KISS, Queen, Led Zeppelin, XTC, Yes, Ramones, Nirvana
Favorite bands (current listening): Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Muse, Foals, Bird & the Bee, Portishead, The Faint,

A band you like that you feel alone in liking: King Crimson
A band you love to hate: Courtney Love
I can't get enough of: kissing, roller coasters, homemade porn, chocolate, coincidences, the Internet
I'm so tired of: religion, politics/politicians, gym-toned airheads, tweekers, email spam
Causes you support: ultimate freedom
Favorite films: "It's a Wonderful Life," "Wizard of Oz," "Evil Dead," "Rocky Horror Picture Show," "North By Northwest" (any Hitchcock), "Aliens" "Opposite of Sex"
Best thing about being in Pansy Division: touring
Worst thing about being in Pansy Division: touring
Predictions: we will all die someday
Quotes: "Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Shakespeare; "A reasonable man
adapts himself to the world around him. An unreasonable man expects the world to adapt to him. Therefore,
all progress is made by unreasonable men." --George Bernard Shaw


Name: Jon Latimer Ginoli
Instrument: Guitar
Birthday: 12/4/59
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois
Current residence: San Francisco
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 140
Boxers or briefs? briefs or boxer briefs
Past jobs: bagging groceries, movie theater, copy shop, record stores, record distributors
First band (& year): The Outnumbered, 1982-1987 (reunion happened in 2009!)
Came out at (list age): 20, in 1980
Hobbies: reading, politics, music, movies, sex
Favorite recent reads: Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne; Life by Keith Richards; Just Kids by Patti Smith; Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin; Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich; Defending the Damned by Kevin DavisThe International Homosexual Conspiracy by Larry-Bob Roberts
Favorite color: purple
Favorite clothes: t-shirts & jeans
Miscellaneous likes: good gas mileage, exploring cities, being out in nature, finding things where I left them
Miscellaneous dislikes: facial hair, stupid drivers, sexist men, social conservatives, bigots, humidity, corporate media, rap metal, nu metal, anything remotely emo
Favorite song: Today it’s a tie between “Bombast” by The Fall and “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swinging Medallions
Favorite bands (all-time): The Kinks, Velvet Underground, Go-Betweens, The Fall, Gun Club, Ramones, X, Buzzcocks. Among others. Plus lots of great one-shots by obscure rock & soul artists
Current listening: The Soft Pack, The Fall, Yuck, The Old 97s,
A band you like that you feel alone in liking: The Original Sins, Rage To Live
A band everyone seems to like but you don't: Scott Walker, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead
I admire: Amy Goodman, the Billboard Liberation Front, the Barbie Liberation Army, The Nation magazine
I'm so tired of:
religion, corrupt politics/politicians, overly deferential Democrats, Tea Partiers, tweekers, pitbulls
Causes you support: Amnesty International, People For The American Way, Planned Parenthood, National
Center For Lesbian Rights, California Rural Legal Assistance, Public Citizen, American Civil Liberties Union, National Organization For Women, NARAL, Southern Poverty Law Center
Favorite films: Network, Annie Hall, His Girl Friday (1940), Monty Python & The Holy Grail, Chinatown,
Manufacturing Consent. I watch a lot of documentaries these days: Inside Job, Casino Jack
Other bands I play in: in the early '00s I also played in The Planning Commission
Best thing about being in Pansy Division: playing shows, traveling, recording, and meeting people
Worst thing about being in Pansy Division:
the bureaucratic/business side of it
Our economic malaise will be with us for the next generation, because I’ve been watching things get worse politically for about 30 years now
"I need to write down all my memorable things so I won’t forget them."


Name: Luis Gabriel Illades
Instrument: drums
Birthday: May 30, 1974
Birthplace: Tijuana, Mexico
Current residence: Brooklyn, NY
Height: 5'11"
Weight: tons!!!!!!!!!!!!!
First job: Selling popcorn at the Village Theater in Coronado, CA
Other past jobs: radio traffic reporter, chef, nightclub manager, printing press operator, secretary, drummer,
and a lot of other things, yipes! that is a lot.

First band (& year): Flake (high school "grunge" band) 1992?
Came out at (list age): 17?
Hobbies: drinking coffee and laughing. I like to do so many things but don't have set hobbies
Favorite color: black (so cliche)
Favorite foods: ceviche, pho
Favorite drinks: Arnold Palmer, 7up, bubbly water, coffee
Favorite clothes: highwater ladies slacks
Miscellaneous likes: good lunch dates, naps, swimming, meditation, Mexican beaches
Miscellaneous dislikes: self-aggrandizing, beards, pretensiousness
Favorite song: This changes constantly.... right now "Communication" by The Cardigans
Favorite bands (all-time): Rocket from the Crypt, Horace Andy, The Auteurs, Murder City Devils, The Clash, The Beatles, Serge Gainsbourg
Favorite bands (current listening): Horace Andy, The Cardigans, Murder City Devils, Buena Vista Social Club, Bay City Rollers, Teenage Fanclub, Imperial Teen, Mahalia Jackson, Tigershark, Turbonegro
A band you like that you feel alone in liking: the "El Cantante" soundtrack
A band you dislike: Kid Rock
I can't get enough of: naps and unfortunately cigarettes
I'm so tired of: nothing. I don't engage in things I dont like
Causes you support: goodness
Favorite films: Amores Perros, The Magic Christian, Water Drops on Burning Rocks, 400 Blows, Goodfellas,
Apocalypse Now, All About My Mother, What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Los Olvidados

Other bands I have played in: The Avengers, The Plus Ones, Shannon Wright, Pretty Pony, The Fade, Grandma's Boy,
El Vez, Ken Doll, Southern Girls, Taikonaut, Victor Krummenacher, Los Ninos Heroes, Thee Black Roses

Best thing about being in Pansy Division: being with my boos Jon, Chris and Joel
Worst thing about being in Pansy Division: Only get to play out a few times a year.
Prediction: I will die someday
Quote: "Live in a good place. Keep your mind deep. Treat others well. Stand by your word. Make fair rules.
Do the right thing. Work when it’s time." -- Tao te Ching

Favorite sport to watch on television: Alpine Skiing
Favorite sport to play: Swimming
Best vacation ever: It usually involves Spain.
Dream vacation: Spanish beaches in August.
Last time you bet money: I lost in a contest of who could go the longest without cursing
Sexiest religion: sex cults
Watch, digital or dial: dial for me. calculator watch for my nerdy future love
Phone, touch tone or rotary?: rotary car phone in a Cadillac
Favorite article of clothing: Transformers underoos
Favorite accessory: Gucci wallet
Favorite book by Stephen King: is this really a question?
Favorite cheese: fresh Mozzarella
Favorite word in spanish: Me cago en la Hostia!
Favorite dance style: cha cha cha and mambo
Last time you felt truly relaxed: this morning as I walked
Last time you felt stressed to your limit: This morning as i looked at my "to do" list.
Favorite name (boy): Priscilla
Favorite name (girl): Butch
Favorite name (location): St. Louis du Ha Ha, Quebec
Favorite bad movie: Showgirls or Annie
Scariest type of doctor to have to go to: Dr. Giggles or Dr. Ernie Lavorini "the sensual dentist"
Biggest recurring worry: that everything will fall apart or that everything will stay the same
Most money ever made in a day: I have no idea. Never made a notable amount.
Favorite brother: My brother who is ALSO named Luis


Name: Joel Christopher Reader
Instrument: "lead" guitar
Birthday: April 3rd, 1977
Birthplace: Macomb, Illinois (although I spent 29 of my first 30 years living in California, so I *feel* like a native)
Current residence: Boston, MA
Height: 5'10"
Weight: I'm honestly not sure; more than some, less than most.
First job: Professional musician. No, really.
Other past jobs: Library Technician
First band (& year): The Mr. T Experience (late 1994)
Came out at (list age): The gay community still awaits my announcement with bated breath.
Hobbies: Rock and roll, reading good books, watching good television, pop culture in general, following the LA Lakers and the Oakland A's.
Favorite color: Blue?
Favorite foods: Bread and butter.
Favorite drinks: Shirley Temple.
Favorite clothes: I love my laceless all-white Jack Purcell Converse by John Varvatos.
Miscellaneous likes: Staying up, sleeping in, going out, getting off.
Miscellaneous dislikes: Why be negative?
Favorite song: "Don't Stop Believin'"
Favorite bands (all-time): Beatles, Kinks, Buzzcocks, Superdrag, Blur, Elvis Costello
Favorite bands (current listening): Nada Surf, New Pornographers, Phoenix, Sloan
A band you like that you feel alone in liking: VHS or Beta, Jimmy Eat World
A band you love to hate: Panic at the Disco
I can't get enough of: " ... your love, baby."
I'm so tired of: "... being alone, I'm so tired of on-my-own."
Causes you support: ACLU, Planned Parenthood, gay rights
Favorite films: Anything by Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Coen Brothers, P.T. Anderson
Other bands I play in: The Plus Ones, The Avengers, El Vez the Mexican Elvis
Best thing about being in Pansy Division: Playing the guitar LOUD; blowing minds.
Worst thing about being in Pansy Division: Only get to play out a few times a year.
Prediction: You will not finish reading this bio.
Quote: "Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit." -- Oscar Wilde
Favorite sport to watch on television: NBA basketball
Favorite sport to play: Slow, white people version of basketball
Best vacation ever: My life is like a vacation all the time.
Dream vacation: Suite at the 4 Seasons, cable TV, room service.
Last time you bet money: Nickel slots in Reno (I'm a high roller).
Favorite style of pizza: Thin crust.
Sexiest religion: Scientology (they may be listening)
Watch, digital or dial: I don't wear one; my cell phone is enough of a timepiece for me.
Phone, touch tone or rotary?: Did this survey just transport me 30 years into the past?
Favorite book by Stephen King: The Bachman Books
Favorite cheese: Cheddar
Favorite word in spanish: Chingao
Favorite dance style: Any of those Bobby Brown moves.
Last time you felt truly relaxed: Your mom was involved. Oh, snap!
Last time you felt stressed to your limit: I always try to keep my cool, baby.
Favorite name (boy): Isaac
Favorite name (girl): Ashley
Favorite name (location): Sheboygan, WI
Scariest type of doctor to have to go to: I hope I don't have to find out for a good, long while.
Biggest recurring worry: I have a recurring nightmare that I can't remember the songs on the set list.
Most money ever made in a day: Why, is the IRS going to read this?
Favorite brother: None; I have two sisters, and I love them equally.