Hello, my name is




Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children’s book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. Recipient of a 2018 Whiting Award for Fiction, he was named one of the 32 Black Male Writers for Our Time by T: New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, the co-founder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and, most recently, the documentary Unstoppable Feat: Dances of Ed Mock. Born in Triana, Alabama, he’s lived in Oakland, California, for over a decade.

The Younger Lovers 2003-Present

Guitar/Drummer/Bass Player

Nationally and internationally touring Rock and Roll band. Recorded 3 self recorded LPs- Newest Romantic (2008), Rock Flawless (2011), and Sugar In My Pocket (2013), Young Brothers (2016)

Gravy Train!!!!! 2003-2008

Guitar and Dance

Nationally and internationally touring queer electronic music performance


I started writing zines when I was a teenager in the 90’s. My love for painting the naked page with words has grown considerably since then. To quote Nikki Giovanni "I write because I have to."

Since I laid my Burden Down 2017

1st Novel

Feminist Press

Buy now

The Cruising Diaries 2014

Graphic memoir with Janelle Hessig

Gimme Action Publishing

Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger

Debut Novella.

Rudos and Rubes (2014), Reprinted by Feminist Press (2017)

The Nightlife of Jucuzzi Gaskett 2018

Dottir Press

Children’s Book. Illustrated by Elise Peters.

Buy Now

100 Boyfriends (forthcoming FSG Publishing) 2021

2nd Novel


Fag School 2000 - present

Self Published Fanzine


I began as a go-go boy in the SF/Oakland queer underground music scene. I split my time between dancing in nightclubs and for professional contemporary African Dance companies in Oakland. I wanted to create a new narrative for myself in dance leaning in on my traditional and abstract trajectories of the meaning of "the dance."


My explorations of dance and writing ultimately lead me to film. I make films because as a writer I know that a picture is worth a hella of a lot more than 1000 words.

Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock 2018

Directed by Brontez Purnell. A survey of the life and times of late, Black, SF based, experimental choreographer and performance artist Ed Mock. Spans from his arrival to SF in the late Sixties until his death of AIDS in 1986

100 Boyfriends Mixtape Parts 1 + 2 2015, 2018

Written and Directed by Brontez Purnell

A video zine feature chronicling the life of an Oakland hipster looking for sex and love. Part 2 premiered at the Whitney for ‘Day Without Art”.

100 Boyfriends Mixtape Part 3 2020

Commissioned by Leslie Lohman Museum of Art, New York City

Brontez Purnell Dance Company’s “Free Jazz” 2013

Written and Directed by Brontez Purnell; filmed by Gary Gregerson

16mm black and white film “Mixtape” of various rituals, happenings, dance parties and structured improvisations presented by the Brontez Purnell Dance Company

I Want Your Love 2012

Written and Directed by Travis Matthews

Performance by Brontez Purnell

A Modern Queer Indie Alt Porn of men looking for love in San Francisco


In performance I tend to lean into a radically open understanding of form and body to create work that combines punk rock subversion and free jazz improvisation.


Bachelor of Fine Arts, Theatre and Contemporary Dance, June 2014

California State University, East Bay


U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley CA

Grants, Awards, and Residences

Editor "Patriot Pages", High School Newspaper, Madison, Alabama 1999-2000

Guest Teacher, Montreal Pop Festival, Montreal, Quebec, Canada Sept. 2014

Guest Teacher, University of Chicago, Writing/Movement Workshop Chicago IL June 2018

Guest Teacher, Judson Church/ Dia. New York City, Teen Writing/Movement/ Film Workshop 2020

Guest Teacher, Kampnagel Theater, Hamburg Germany, 2018/2020

Guest Teacher, Catapult Magazine, Writing Workshop Instructor, Nov 2020

Pieter Performance Space Artist in Residence, Los Angeles, 2019

Tom of Finland Artist in Residence, Los Angeles, 2019

Top 32 Black Male Writers of Our Time, New York Times, 2018

The Whiting Award,  Writing Award, 2018

MANNC Residency, Dance Performance Residency, 2016

Creative Work Fund, “Investing In Artists” Grantee, 2015

Kenneth Rainin Foundation, “NEW” Grantee, 2015

New York Foundation for the Arts, “Cutting Edge Art” 2015

Berkeley Art Museum, Guest Curator 2013

Curated 3 nights:

New Diaspora –performance by descendants of the African Diaspora

Other Dancers – highlighting alternative dance performance

Rock N Roll Flea Market– a Rock N Roll Show and record swap

Out Magazine, 100 Most Eligible Bachelors 2013

RADAR Lab, Juried selection queer artist residency in Akumal, Mexico 2012

Out Magazine, Hot List 2012

New York Times, Spotlight on the Gay Community 2011