Back in May, Cynic founders Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert publicly came out as gay during an interview with the LA Times. Given the climate of being open about your sexual orientation in the field of metal music, they made the decision to come out knowing the potential backlash they could receive. Thankfully, the response has been mostly that of what I call “positive apathy.” In other words, people were incredibly supportive, but also didn’t really give a shit about their orientation. Still, the fact that metalheads are overlooking such a thing is nothing short of amazing and empowering. Oddly enough, though, some of the biggest critics against Masvidal and Reinert (or any openly gay metal musician, for that matter), as I’ve seen online in my various social media circles, are other gay men. Snarky comments, bitchy attitudes, and comments ranging from “Too bad they’re not relevant or popular” to “Oh grrrls, we knew and really, make a hit song to matter” were thrown about constantly.
And quite frankly, this is exactly what pushes any gay person back into the proverbial closet. Including me.
When you come out to friends, family, and the people around you about who you are, there’s always a risk of societal excommunication, termination of employment, or much, much worse. I’m thankful that I have a very understanding and loving family who were very accepting of me. When I came out to my metalhead friends (and I have a slew of them), all of them accepted me. All of them. I am one of the lucky ones who didn’t get thrown out of my home, banned from family functions, or otherwise excluded by people I love. And the metal community, oddly enough, was very accepting and loyal, and they continue to be. I, as well as many gay metalheads and metal musicians, can’t thank you guys and gals enough for that.
However, when you try to explain to another gay person what music you enjoy, Dearest Mother of Chthulu, you really shouldn’t even bother. You are viewed as “uncultured,” “uncouth,” and ostracized for not fitting in, which runs directly at odds with our constant need for acceptance of who we are. Think about that for a second… I (and others I’m aware of) have been given an unnecessary rash of shit for being diverse by people who crave diversity. “Fucked” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Yes, it’s true. Not all of us like Robyn, The Scissor Sisters, or The Arcade Fire. HBO’s Looking makes me never, ever want to visit San Francisco (and for the record, I would fit in with the majority of the gay community there about as well as a Straight-Edge guy would fit in at Burning Man). The fact that I did a retro review for the Emperor album that has Faust on it (and a positive one at that) does not escape me. I’m also about as politically correct as an episode of Wonder Showzen, about as hip and trend-setting as your mom, and only use the word “fierce” when talking about the High Punch button in the original Street Fighter II.
I’m writing this article, sticking myself on the edge of a skyscraper (even under a pseudonym) because, unlike my teenage years or my twenties, I know there are other metalheads in the LGBT community who, for whatever reason, feel alone from either family or friends because of their orientation, or from other members of the LGBT community because of their love of metal. There are many colors of the proverbial rainbow, and there are those that appreciate the darkest, tr00est, kvltest, frostbitten shades of black in it, and that shade is ever-growing, ever-strengthening, and becoming more and more accessible as time goes on.
And to you guys and girls, I just want to say that you fucking matter, and nevermind the naysayers. Keep throwing down at shows. Be true to you and others. And remember that we are ALL legion.