I should clarify, that with all I’ve said, it wasn’t a utopia. As idealistic and conscientious as the scene purported to be, there was a lot of struggle to live up to it’s ideals, and argument about what those ideals were. Organizers were constantly trying to root out racists from the shows, and women often struggled to be respected in what would often become a really macho world. My friends Daisy, Margaret and Vique started a group called Chicks Up Front. Learning from them and their affiliates in the Riot Grrrl scene taught me a lot about feminism at a time when I could have easily continued in the fevered arrogance of being a teenage boy.

Old pictures of the young Kevin McHugh – from 1991 to 1995.

Like techno in 2017, the idealistic world of DC hardcore struggled with homophobia, sexism, racism and general ignorance. Terrible ideas don’t go away with time. Progress doesn’t happen in a straight line. The reason is that bigotry and ignorance are the products of lack of thought, a carelessness about other people’s lives and a refusal to listen or learn from others. That was around even in the most politically-minded music scene in the 90s, and also now. That’s why I find it refreshing to see so many music lovers in today’s scene speak out against these things.

If I have anything to say to finish, it’s that my early experiences in the punk and hardcore scene in Washington taught me that people who are really committed to speaking their mind can influence young listeners, and that can have a profound impact. People gathering to listen to music is powerful, and if you harness that power, you can really do something.

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