Life Of AgonyTim Tronckoe

Life Of Agony, Cynic, Otep, Etc. Members Speak Of LGBTQ Acceptance In Metal/Hard Rock Community


Being in the testosterone fueled world of metal and hard rock has certainly presented its challenges to those of the LGBTQ community over the years. As part of a month-long feature on Gay Pride Month, have spoken with numerous musicians and more of the LGBTQ community, including a number of prominent metal and rock musicians. You can read about the experiences faced by being LGBTQ in the metal/hard rock community from Cynic‘s Paul Masvidal here, Dug Pinnick of King’s X/KXM here, Mina Caputo of Life Of Agony here and Otep Shamaya here.

There’s a lot of interesting points shared throughout the interviews, including Pinnick praising Korn for helping break down walls:

Korn, for instance, when that first record came out and the line says, “I’m a f—t, I’m a motherfucking queer,” what [singer] Jonathan [Davis] did is, he didn’t come out and ridicule gay people at all. He came out and owned it. He said things that made you own what you were saying. It was like it was so, so, so big and so strong. Because gay people, we don’t stand up. We don’t say, “Hey, this is who I am. Screw you.” When he said that, and even though Jonathan‘s not gay … it kind of broke a lot of walls, especially [in light] of his childhood sexual abuse … It was helping kids to open up and realize they weren’t alone, especially kids that have been abused sexually.”

Masvisdal had the following to say of homophobia’s presence in the death metal scene:

“I think the death metal scene has evolved. It’s different now. There’s so many different subcultures and genres in the death metal scene, and I’m not really deep in that world. I just know that originally, it was pretty rough around the edges. I think it softened over the years, and I think the younger generation, Gen X, Gen Y, have appeared, potentially Zs, there’s another component, so they’re growing up with it more, so there’s less ignorance around it. But it’s still there.

…There’s this old-guard thing going on with it that may never get past it. It’s almost like a Viking mentality or something. But it’s OK, because there’s plenty of artists and groups that are doing well in their own subgenres and communities that don’t need to participate in that world.

…There’s a lot of aggression involved in metal. It’s an expression of anger, a lot of it. A lot of these bands, it really is kind of a wall of, hit us over the head with this sound. There’s different versions of metal that cover a wide [spread] of emotions, but definitely at the root of it is this visceral aggression. That not channeled constructively in a young person that has their own internalized homophobia issues, it’s going to manifest, and suddenly, [they think], “This rock guy, wait, you’re not allowed to be a voice in metal.

With the ignorance, you have this stereotype of a gay man being perhaps a feminine character, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. There is that [dynamic] in the community, but there’s the other extreme as well. I could take you to where’s it’s all just trucker guys, and they’re all gay. They’re drinking beer and making hot dogs.”

Masvisdal also went on to praise The Dillinger Escape Plan for their various efforts at stamping out homophobia. Otep Shamaya went on to say that around a dozen or more well-known musicians have personally come out to her over the years:

“…That’s usually the first thing people come and talk to me about, like, “Hey, you know, I’ve been with someone before, and thank you for fighting.” And they’re very supportive, privately. It’s nice, but I always say, “Thank you for trusting me, I really appreciate that. But please consider to let people know.” It’s not a big deal. Why should it be a big deal? It’s not, and they all say they’ll consider it, but they’re afraid of losing fans or they’re afraid of their family. They’re afraid of what it might do to them, perception of record companies and all this stuff, and they say they applaud me for my fierceness, [but] I don’t see what I do as anything special.”

In other news, she also once again singled out metal websites as being: “harborers and safe havens for bigots and fiends,” offering:

“Well, certainly on quote-unquote metal websites, they allow hate speech to occur. They get money from Google ad clicks pretty much [laughs], and I call those sites out all the time because they want to be the TMZ of metal or hard-rock music, but essentially they’re just harborers and safe havens for bigots and fiends. But then, with regard to it being more socially acceptable to be overtly bigoted, when they start stepping into my world in social media, I see that it is stepped up, and it’s even come from other artists as well.”

Regardless of Shamaya‘s opinions on the matter, I’d like to think we have a pretty good group of open-minded commenters here with only a handful of shitheads that usually get downvoted/moderated out of existence.

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