Grymm Comments: On Coming Out and Acceptance in the Metalverse… Again.

Back in 2014, I wrote a piece on what it was like to be a gay metalhead, trying to find acceptance not only from the metal community when they find out about my orientation, but also from the gay community when one of “their own” doesn’t exactly march to the same drum1 that they do. The amount of people who weighed in on it, giving support while thanking me off-site for writing it was staggering, and to this day I’m amazed at how many people it touched when I wrote it. And in those last seven years, the scene shifted dramatically. The level of tolerance towards gay, lesbian, and transgender metal musicians expanded and elevated, with the scene as a collective whole being more open-armed and welcoming. Fans exhibit a mature, even-keeled response to musicians coming out more and more each day. Finally, it fills my heart with hope to see the metal community at large turning a corner and broadening its base to welcome all of its fans and musicians, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Okay, I will wait until both you, the reader, and myself are all done laughing at all the above. Ready? Let’s continue…

First off… yes, metal is working towards being a more welcoming genre. If you had told me years ago that there would be more and more gay, lesbian, and transgender musicians in metal, punk, and hardcore, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, it’s happening, and it’s an absolute joy to see a new generation of queer musicians pushing musical envelopes while giving much-needed representation. That’s something I wished I had growing up as a confused teenager, and it’s heartwarming to see this happen. To coincide with all that, the amount of straight allies in metal and hardcore has been increasing as well, allowing for us to feel welcome within metal’s ever-expanding confines. I remain cognizant of all the improvements and strides being made between LGBTQ+ musicians and our straight allies.

But I would be lying if I said that things are altogether fantastic. Right around the time of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016, a number of metal bands and musicians offered support to the LGBTQ+ community, offering up donations and financial support to those impacted. While the support given by a majority of their fans reminded me why I ever felt a kinship with metalheads, a small but ridiculously vocal sect of assholes scoffed, ridiculed, and shamed not only these bands and musicians, but also gays and those directly impacted by this act of terrorism. This all happens again every June during Pride Month, but unlike corporations, I don’t have to doubt the sincerity of a band when they switch their logo into one with rainbow colors to show solidarity with us. Hell, I’m confident many of you are aware of Blabbermouth’s ever-informative, always-intelligent comment section, so I don’t need to dive deep into that cesspool. I can only fathom what metalheads of color have to go through, though.

I also wish that didn’t happen here, but again there are sad reminders of how much further we all need to go. During my review of Life of Agony‘s A Place Where There’s No More Pain from 2017, we had a commenter basically shitting on vocalist Mina Caputo being openly transgender. In Holdeneye‘s review of last year’s Nemesis by Skeletoon, there’s another commenter equating loving power metal with “being gay”. Finally, in my previous coming-out piece, in a since-deleted comment, I had someone basically try to convince me and the readers that Varg Vikernes had it right.2 The amount of black metal bands I’ve personally not reviewed because, quite frankly, many of them were openly (and proudly) adopting ideologies that included people like me not existing, is quite large, and it’s gotten to the point where I hardly ever find enjoyment in black metal nowadays. When I bring up the valid reasons why, I’m immediately judged and made to feel not only inferior, but that I’m wrong for standing up for myself and what I believe in. That’s an absolutely fucking shitty feeling when all I’m saying is I have a right to exist and enjoy the music that I love. I get that we don’t have to get along and yes, differing opinions coexist, but there’s a clear-cut difference between “I don’t agree with your viewpoints” and “I don’t believe you should listen to metal or even exist in any capacity.”

So yes, metal’s more welcoming and mature than ever before. And also no, metal’s just as segmented, as judgmental, and as hostile to those different from them as ever before. Just like rap and country music, even with all the gay, lesbian, and transgender musicians trying to make headway in metal, our scene struggles with this near bipolar identity where it simultaneously wants to accept us all while it’s hellbent and determined to push us away (or worse). It’s gotten to the point where I’m at a personal crossroads with metal, where on one hand I want to continue showing support for the bands and music I love, and on the other I’m ready to walk away and be done with it all. Time, and acceptance, will tell where that goes, because as much as I love metal, I’m done being made to feel like a second-class citizen by its vocal minority.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Speaking of “drum”, Steel Druhm was the catalyst for this update, as he asked me if I wanted to give an update on what’s transpired since the 2014 piece.
  2. By the way, said commenter was doxxed a few years later and was revealed to be a well-known White Nationalist in the United States. I don’t want to hear any bullshit that there’s no white supremacy problem, in metal or otherwise.
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