Gossip Is Keeping the Y2K Revival Queer, Brash, and Politically Urgent

The cruel irony is that the band’s breakout single, “Standing in the Way of Control” — a rallying cry against the unjust systems that oppress queer people — is more relevant today than ever. The track was indirectly about the Federal Marriage Amendment during the George W. Bush administration, which held that marriage was only “the union of a man and a woman” in the eyes of the law. “When you are seeing your existence being debated, you are constantly trying not to feel the pressure that people don’t want you to be here,” Ditto says. “That’s what ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ was about.” Their new single “Real Power,” which was sparked by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, feels like a spiritual sister to that 2006 hit. In the disco-inspired track, Ditto belts out the refrain, “Give me real power,” offering an even more direct rallying cry than its predecessor. Though it was written before the maelstrom of current anti-trans legislation, the band agrees the lyrics pertain to multiple struggles. And with two trans members in their touring band, Bijoux Cone on synths and Ditto’s partner Teddy Kwo on bass, Gossip’s message of inclusivity has never been more poignant.

With the band doing press and touring once again, they are concerned about facing discrimination. Both Howdeshell and Blilie share that their bandmates have already faced difficulty on the road. Blilie tells me, “Bijoux is my best friend in Portland. I feel super protective of her, and I’m experiencing her experience in the world as we’re traveling. There’s some pretty shocking shit. I’m getting a window into the world of how depressingly closed-minded and hateful visibly trans people’s experiences can be.”

But they’ve also experienced queer euphoric highs this go-round, too. During their recent BBC 6 Festival performance, they were joined onstage by the art party collective FVCK PIGS who held signs reading “Protect Trans Youth” and “God Loves Lipstick Lesbians.” This performance later aired on the BBC, leading to some negative comments about people’s bodies, specifically Ditto’s weight, which only convinced the band that they were on the right path. “Gossip is identity: it’s making people feel seen and accepted and loved and appreciated and respected,” Blilie says. “[Those comments] make me feel like our work isn’t done and we’re still fighting the good fight.”

Ditto has always embodied that fearless ethos, inspiring others to live out loud and fight for a world without fear. “No matter what their law says, we’re going to be here and we have to be alive and happy,” she says. That resilience may be what she’s been singing about all along.

Real Power is available March 22 via Columbia Records.

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