Cub Sport on Australia’s Queer Evolution and Their Own Love Story

Instagram / @cubsport

For the sixth year in a row, POPSUGAR is dedicating the month of June to recognising LGBTQIA+ voices, having honest conversations about sexuality and gender, and honouring individuality, through first-person interviews and allyship guidance. The POPSUGAR team is sharing these stories throughout the month, so be sure to find all our pieces here.

Art in the LGBTQIA+ community has always been prevalent, whether it be content creation, performance, modelling, activism, music…. and for Brisbane-born pop band Cub Sport; their journey as artists and lovers has been documented within their discography, allowing us to be a part of their own queer evolution.

Having formed in 2010, Cub Sport is comprised of Dan Puusaari on drums, Zoe Davis on guitar and vocals, plus frontman Tim Nelson and keyboard player and vocalist Sam Netterfield, who got together and came out just as they released their 2016 debut album, This Is Our Vice. Each album since has documented monumental moments in their own love story and queer journeys that make their music really one of a kind.

In 2017, they released BATS, which carried themes of self-acceptance and being in love. That year, Nelson and Netterfield got engaged. In 2018, the pair got married, and in 2019, they released their self-titled album Cub Sport, which is about learning self-love and beginning to feel more connected to the universe. Their next album, 333, was released when “life felt gentle, and everything was perfect”, Nelson tells POPSUGAR Australia.

In 2020, came LIKE NIRVANA, where Nelson reflected on the realisation that everything isn’t perfect, “but I was coming to terms with the complexities of my existence and who/what I am in this ever-expanding multiverse”. And now, amidst Pride Month of 2022, Cub Sport have just released a new single Always Got The Love, which is all about queer joy and feeling safe in queer love.

Their evolution through music and a queer relationship beautifully echoes our societal growth in Australia. From legalising gay marriage in 2017, to publications (like us) all over the country celebrating Pride Month by sharing queer stories and discussing the importance of queer representation in mainstream culture, these conversations are still new. Just to think that five years ago, we would not be seeing this content published, gay marriage would not be legal in Australia and queer representation would be few and far in between, is mind-blowing.

However, for Nelson, his musical journey hasn’t been a conscious one. While his art has echoed an inspiring arc of love and acceptance, much like Western society’s acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, his evolution is one that’s happened naturally. We’re just lucky enough to be the recipients of raw, real, exposing and emotional music (that we can also dance to).

“I mostly write about my own life and sometimes the lives of people around me but — and this might sound like a cliché writer thing to say — I think true inspiration comes from a higher place,” Nelson tells POPSUGAR Australia.

“Call it the universe or whatever. It’s a certain feeling I get in my chest and sometimes on my skin when I’m writing/recording, and I know that it’s like, fateful and pure, or whatever.”

“I think I’ve always written what my soul needed at that moment in time, and each of our albums has helped me grow through a different part of my own journey. So, if the music I make can help other people feel less alone on their own journey, that’s the dream.”

There’s not much more a writer can do, really. We caught up with Nelson, to chat about love, queer stories and how to be an ally.

PS: Do you feel any pressure to represent queerness in your art, or does it just come naturally?

TN: “Nah, I never feel pressure to represent queerness. I’m just doing what I wanna do. I went through years feeling like I had to filter myself so people wouldn’t know I was queer, so now being free to be myself and realise my visions to their fullest is fun and special and HOT.”

What changes have you noticed within society and queerness over the past few years? 

“I think there have been positive shifts for sure. In Australia and lots of western countries, queerness is becoming more and more visible — it’s exciting to see queer representation in sport and politics and places it hasn’t been so common before. There’s obviously still a long way to go, though. There needs to be more support for queer people of colour, trans and gender non-conforming people. We need to keep talking about it to raise awareness and call on our leaders for systemic support to make society safe and liveable for ALL queer people.”

It’s so important to have queer relationships in the public eye, and your relationship with Sam is exactly that. Does that pose any struggles for you both? 

“I’m really grateful that it doesn’t pose any struggles for our relationship itself. We went through eight years of denying our love before we got to be together, so now I’m constantly in disbelief that we get to live this dream together. But I will say, having our personal lives and careers interwoven can be kind of intense — we experience lots of the same highs and lows together/at the same time so it makes things feel bigger. But if sharing our story can inspire other people to follow their heart and/or be with their soulmate, then that’s cool.”

How would you describe yourself today, compared to yourself 10 years ago?

“Me in 2022 vs 2012 is kind of incomparable, TBH. I’ve got a lot more love in my heart now than I did in 2012, I’m way less judgemental, I’m proud of myself pretty often, I’m a much better songwriter and producer, and I dress better now (lol).”

What would be your advice to anyone struggling with their own identity right now?

“Don’t feel like you need to rush to figure yourself out or feel embarrassed for ‘living a lie’ while you’re getting there. You’re completely valid at every stage of your journey and there’s nothing wrong with taking your time. But! Something I’ve learned is that a lot of life decisions are either guided by fear or love, so don’t let fears of being your truest self block all the magic that comes with living an authentic life. “

In your opinion, what are three of the best ways that you can be a LGBTQIA+ ally?

  1. Educate yourself on the struggles LGBTQIA+ face so you can have a deeper understanding.”
  2. “Use your voice to support (especially in places where there aren’t many openly queer people).”
  3. “Don’t assume peoples sexuality or gender or pronouns. Using neutral terms allows space for people to open up.”
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