Interview: Punk Out

by Deanna Chapman

We had the chance to ask Michael McCarron some questions about his non-profit organization, Punk Out. Check out the interview to learn more about the organization and how they’re helping to support the LGBTQ community!

Let’s start with a couple details for those who may not have heard of the organization. Who are you and what is Punk Out? 
Punk Out is a non-profit LGBTQ organization based out of Philadelphia. We connect and support queer musicians and fans through music. We encourage closeted musicians to come out, when safe, and to be visible and proud of who they are. We provide a forum for artists to discuss topics concerning identity, inclusion, and inspiration. We believe an open dialogue is imperative to fostering a more inclusive music scene. We work to end the homeless queer-youth epidemic that is sweeping our country. We shine a light on musicians who embody the spirit of equality.

What made you decide to start the organization? Did you start it on your own or did you have help?
I started Punk Out because I’m gay and I love moshing, dancing, and just generally listening to music. And you know what? Turns out there are countless others in our scene who fall under the queer umbrella…including musicians. Artists are in a unique position: they have a platform and can reach so many people, a large segment of which are impressionable teenagers. We leverage that platform in order to spread our message of equality and hope. But we also are keenly aware that queer musicians, just like their fans, need the same support networks and message of equality and hope. We strive to be that support network.

Do you have staff members? And if so, who are they and what are their roles?
Punk Out is a team-effort and we have outstanding people doing amazing work. Brian Rentas (Operations Manager) and Marie Scarsella (Editor-in-Chief) handle day-to-day operations. Jessica Weber, Brandon Schaller, Kat Hamilton, and Zac Lomas are the folks who create our great content.

In what ways do you try to get the word out about Punk Out?
We work to drive conversation surrounding queer topics in the music scene and work in our local communities to improve the lives of queer people. We try to be more than just an advocacy group. We want what we are doing in our local communities to get our name out there.

How can anyone interested help support the cause and the organization?
Talk to anyone within earshot about your identity, inspiration, and yearning for inclusion. Be visible, no matter what you identify as. Oh, and check out our “Ways to Help” page on our website.

How important is it to have support for the LGBTQ community and have people understand what it means to identify with that?
From a human perspective, it’s all about being nice and fostering that inclusive community where everyone feels comfortable being themselves and enjoying music. From a band’s perspective, its economically advantageous to voice your support of the queer community. From a queer individual’s perspective, that sense of togetherness and empathy can save a life; it means the world.

How would you like to see Punk Out grow and what do you hope it will become throughout the course of this year? We would like to take over the world, Pinky and the Brain style. You know, leave the anti-gay bigots shaking in their boots. We want to listen to bands who fight for equality, who spread the message of inclusiveness, and who start conversations about difficult topics like homophobia, homelessness, and bullying.

Where can people go to find more info and what social media sites can they find Punk Out on?
Our website is PunkOut.org. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at PunkOutLGBT. We love talking. Come say “hi.”

Any last words you’d like to say about the organization or anything I didn’t hit on?
40% of homeless kids identify as LGBTQ. I hope that figure startles you. Get out there and start talking.

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