I had big plans for today. I was going to get home from work, hop in the shower and head up to the local community college and begin the college application process way ahead of the deadline in January. Then I was going to come home and do a little blogging and maybe listen to some music before calling it a day. However I didn’t accomplish any of these plans. Instead I did something that I feel was much more important.
For those of you who listened to the first episode of the Talking Thrash Podcast you probably heard my 15 minute rant on homophobia in heavy metal. It has been an issue that has been bothering me for a good number of years and one that I alluded to in a previous post, where I came out publicly as a gay man. Today instead of doing all the things I had planned, I decided to spend a few hours writing a follow up to yesterday’s rant.
I know, I know. This is a thrash metal blog. I feel you. We’ll get back to the thrash metal tomorrow, I PROMISE! However this is also my blog and if I have issues with something metal related I am going to use this platform to express my views on it. I’m sorry if this upsets you and I certainly hope I don’t alienate you or deter you from returning to this website in the future, but that’s just the way it is. Again, I’m sorry.
Below is my follow up on yesterday’s rant and an all around important piece. Thank you for reading.
Yesterday I posted the first episode of the Talking Thrash Podcast, a 48 minute atrocity (except for the music!) where I was barely audible and completely disorganized and sounded like a complete tool. Negative stuff aside, I really enjoyed recording the episode. For the most part I am a shy individual. If you’ve met me you probably know I don’t talk a lot and I’m kind of awkward. I started the podcast because the one thing I’m not shy about is discussing the music I love. I’ve always enjoyed talking about heavy metal ever since I got into the music 10 years ago. I spend countless hours talking to my friends about metal; sharing my thoughts and opinions and getting them into bands they’ve never heard before. When I first came up with the idea of doing a podcast (which will get better!) many of my metal friends where very supportive and very much liked the idea. “You know what you’re talking about, you should definitely do it!”
That sounds great, right? Look at me hanging out with my awesome metal friends talking about awesome metal music. Hell I run a some-what popular thrash metal blog, my friends must think I’m about as metal as a steel beam. WRONG! My metal friends don’t even know about Global Thrash Assault. You’re probably thinking that’s a bit peculiar so let me explain.
Way back in June I came out publicly as a gay man on the Global Thrash Assault website. I shared my deepest darkest secret with the entire internet. Complete strangers from all around the world read the piece. Various bands shared it with their fan base, readers shared it with their friends and someone even shared it on Reddit. I received an overwhelming and very positive response from complete strangers from all parts of the world. I’d be lying if I told you that the whole thing didn’t bring a tear or two to my eyes on several different occasions. You would think after that I would be a free man, that the deep dark closet was gone forever and I could move on with my life. You’d be wrong. I’ve never told any of my metal friends that I’m gay. I still, to this day, pretend that I’m straight around them. This charade is exhausting, as you can imagine, and there are many times where I’ve gone against the true me and and agreed with them when they said “that band is gay.” Of course I try to do my best to get away from that word by saying things like “I wouldn’t say that, I just think they’re a shitty band” in hopes that they would eventually pick up on it and figure things out, but unfortunately they never have and this talk still continues. There are plenty of times where I’ve felt guilty about this. where I felt I should stand up and say “I can’t speak for the band, but I certainly am.” I’d like to think they would say something like “holy shit! I had no idea, I’m so sorry!” and we can all move on with our lives, some of us having learned something and others feeling relieved to have a giant weight lifted off their shoulders after years of carrying it around. However I’ve never done this. Why? Because I’m too afraid to. What if they have a different reaction? Metalheads push and knock into each other for fun in the mosh pit, it’s not a far stretch to think they would knock someone around for reasons other than fun, like say bigotry and homophobia. Granted I don’t think my friends are terrible people, and I don’t think that would be their reaction and I’m certainly not calling metalheads a bunch of violent bigoted assholes. What I am saying is this: when you’re in the closet and around a bunch of seemingly homophobic people a lot of terrible and otherwise crazy things go through your mind. This fear is the very reason “the closet” exists and is the reason I’m still very much a closeted gay man, despite my very public “coming out” post.
I don’t think anyone can deny there is homophobia in heavy metal. Let’s get real though, homophobia is just about every where. It starts in our society but for some reason it seems to fester in and around heavy metal, which if I’m being honest is kind of surprising. I guess I shouldn’t be as surprised by this as I am. Maybe I’m just a naive fool. I personally feel that most metal heads have been quickly labelled and/or judged for no reason other than the fact they simply enjoy listening to heavy metal. We’ve all been branded as an outcast at some point in our lives and we all bear the scars from this rejection. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in therapy over what the kids said about me during my high school years, in fact those whispers behind my back and the countless looks I’ve gotten from people over the years have made me into the person I am today. It’s my sincere belief that metal heads should be among some of the last people on earth to judge anyone because we know what it’s like to be judged and rejected by others for absolutely no reason. The metal community is very diverse. We’re a group of people united by one thing and that thing is our passion for the same type of music. Metal can be heard all around the world. It doesn’t matter what sex you are, what race you are, what religion you are; if you love the music, the metal community will embrace you. So why in our own community do we call people faggots and label bands as gay? Why I ask you? How can a group of people who have been judged and looked down upon by so many other people, judge and look down upon the LGBT community without even blinking an eye? This is in fact the definition of hypocrisy.
A friend told me he wasn’t at all surprised by the rampant homophobia in heavy metal. He even explained how it makes perfect sense. He basically said the aggressive music brings out the caveman in us all and that metal “hearkens to our primal genes that still say ‘fight, conquer, kill’ that thousands of years of civilization hasn’t choked out.” Let me be clear, I’m not saying metal heads are a less evolved group of people. I do however think the aggressive music causes many people to “beat their chest” and try to prove they’re the toughest, meanest, baddest person around. Let’s be real here. We’ve all been to metal shows and have heard people say how they’re gonna “fuck shit up in the pit.” We’ve all seen people being harassed by their friends for not wanting to mosh or participate in the wall of death. “Don’t be such a faggot, get in the pit!” For some a comment like that may seem innocent enough, “it’s just a word” after all. For others like myself a comment like that is extremely hurtful. That “word” is one that is rooted in hate and a comment like that, however innocent you think it may be, makes it seem like a gay person is not welcomed in the metal community. I’ve been going to metal shows for nearly a decade, and at just about every show I’ve been to during this time period, I’ve heard language that is less than welcoming towards the LGBT community. In fact, this language is very unwelcoming to say the least.
Before some of you get all fired up and take to social media to slander my name and start the #notallmetalheads hashtag, I should point out that not all metalheads use this type of language. Like I said in the very beginning, when I shared my coming out piece I received nothing by support. There have been many times over the years where I’ve gone to a show by myself and have spent the evening chatting with a complete stranger because one of us spotted the other wearing a Megadeth t-shirt and decided to strike up a conversation based on common interest. For the most part I love the metal community. I think most of the people reading this share the same affection. However I do hate the blatant and very nonchalant homophobia that very much exists in this community. What I hate even more is peoples willingness to ignore the issue and think absolutely nothing of it. This is something that needs to change. It has to change.
I have my reasons for not confronting people on this issue. If you don’t understand my reasons than you should try living in a closet for you’re entire life. I hid who I was from my own family for 24 years, the thought of having that same “coming out” conversation with a stranger is almost unbearable. The only reason I’m able to talk about this issue so freely now and to you all, is because I’m essentially hiding behind a keyboard. What’s your excuse? If you’re not hiding and you witness this homophobia at a show, a record store, or even amongst friends and you don’t call that individual out on it, you’re allowing this bigoted culture to continue to exist and thrive in the metal community. Don’t let this shit continue. Do your part to stamp out homophobia and help people like me step out from behind a keyboard.
Thank you for reading.