This story first appeared on them.us.
In advance of Paramore’s headlining slot at the emo nostalgia festival When We Were Young, lead singer Hayley Williams penned a heartfelt letter to those who “punk music actually represents” — namely, young women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color.
Williams posted the handwritten note to her Instagram stories on Sunday, beginning with a reflection on growing up in the punk scene.
“We fell in love with this subset of post-punk and hardcore likely because nothing else moved us,” she wrote. “We didn’t fit in other places.”
And yet, while “alternative” scenes of all stripes purport to be a home for outsiders, it’s also true that they’re frequently rife with bigotry. Williams acknowledged that ugly truth, writing that it took “years” for her to find her “own way to belong.”
“What I did know was that for every ‘Take off your top!’ or snarky punkzine review … For every dramatic headline pinned on my name, or any season of self-doubt … No one was going to define Paramore but Paramore,” the singer said.
Now, Paramore’s influence can be seen everywhere, even on the top 40 — but as their headlining slot at the Las Vegas emo festival proves, they’ll always be a “pillar” of the scene. While writing that she does her best to “stay humble,” the frontwoman also stated that the band’s lasting success was a result of staying true to themselves despite the more unwelcoming aspects of emo.
“Tonight, while we’re running through the lengths of our discography and I’m refraining from singing the word ‘whore,’ know that, inside, I’m celebrating the fact that, as a scene, we’ve come a long way,” Williams said, while acknowledging that there’s “much further to go.”
Williams’ note comes shortly after the band spoke out against an apparent incident of homophobic harassment at a recent concert. After a drunk man allegedly verbally and physically harassed a gay couple, Paramore issued a statement clarifying that “violence, homophobia, or bigotry of any kind… is supremely unwelcome in our community and has no place at our shows.”
Williams underscored that point in her letter on Sunday by paying special tribute to fans who haven’t always felt like they belong in the scene. “Young girls, queer kids, and anybody of any color … We have shifted this scene together, messily, angrily, heartbroken, and determined,” she wrote.
Perhaps throwing some slight shade at the premise of the festival, she closed the letter by saying, “Tonight, for me at least, is about celebrating all the facets of what punk music actually represents. All the things it wasn’t allowed to be when we were young. Can’t wait to see everyone tonight.”