Rise Against Homophobia
August 26, 2011
Rise Against—a hardcore punk band I’ve always associated with screaming about heartbreak and partying—recently surprised me. The Illinois band took on more poignant subject matter this year, and MTV took notice. Rise Against’s anthem of LGBTQ acceptance and hope—“Make It Stop (September’s Children)”—has been nominated for the 2011 Video Music Awards’ Best Video With a Message.
The lyrics and video make it clear that the song’s goal is to help end homophobia. The message is delivered powerfully: at one point, lead singer Tim McIlrath lists the names of the teens who died by suicide almost a year ago and stresses their young ages (between 13 and 18). Clips from the It Gets Better Project cut into the music video and highlight the happy lives led by many LGBTQ adults who were bullied as teens.
The video ends hopefully with its three main characters—bullied LGBTQ teenagers—deciding against ending their lives. The viewers get a flash-forward into the teens’ happy futures to come, and the implication is that the It Gets Better Project’s powerful message of hope convinced those teens contemplating suicide to change their minds.
Rise Against deserves more than a spaceman statuette for “Make It Stop (September’s Children).” The group merits widespread recognition and respect, both from fans and those (like me) who’d normally give them a pass. The group took on an important subject often ignored by mainstream musicians. Even the song’s lyrics make this clear: “children shamed for those they chose to kiss… we’re calling for/ insisting on, a different beat/ a brand new song.”