A band I liked recently posted on Facebook that Country and Western music was ‘gay’ and it made me really angry. Now there is nothing wrong with hating Country and Western music as we all have different tastes, if you don’t like it that’s okay. But what’s not okay is calling something ‘gay’, not only is it childish and immature but also extremely homophobic. Too often in society (not just metal culture) the word ‘gay’ is used as an insult. It is is in no way synonymous with ‘bad’. It’s just a shame not many people are aware of this. My experience of this discussion was when at college a teacher threatened to throw a student out of class for using the word. The student was in turn puzzled and questioned why, to which the teacher explained that it was offensive and implied being gay was a bad thing. “It’s just a joke” and ignorance are often used as a defense, but there’s nothing funny about using ‘gay’ as an insult.
The use of the word gay as an insult in metal is unfortunately too common. Too often fans are quick to label bands ‘fags’ and ‘gay’ for their music and it’s just disgusting. Bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria often receive abuse online and are as dismissed as fagcore and queer metal. A popular meme online stated that the Big Four of ‘Fag Metal’ were Avenged Sevengold, Bullet for My Valentine, Black Veil Brides and Asking Alexandria. The fact that these are widely shared on Facebook by people of all ages shows there is much work to be done. Seeing bands called ‘false metal’ and ‘not true metal’ is hilarious, casually dismissing a band as gay metal isn’t. There is always a large sense of irony in homophobia in heavy metal, as metal is quite a gay genre. Tom Dare from Terrorizer, expertly put in an article in 2014: “Heavy metal is totally gay. It’s a predominantly male audience watching predominantly male bands act as butch and masculine as possible. It’s leather, denim, tight trousers (we’ll skip over the baggy jeans of nu metal, because that was actually the closest metal’s ever come to being straight) and a bunch of other shit that has more to do with 1970s San Francisco gay clubs than anything vaguely hetero. It’s all phallic metaphors, homoerotic imagery and sweaty (frequently topless) men grappling each other in a dark room. And yet we are amongst the most homophobic sets of music fans in the world.”
There’s a great sense of irony as we sing to songs called ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Ram It Down’ with straight faces, and aren’t crowd surfing, mosh pits and walls of death just a large display of skin-on-skin contact? Some of its most iconic figures, Otep, Roddy Bottum (keyboardist of Faith No More), Gaahl of God Seed and Gorgoroth fame and of course Rob Halford of Judas Priest are all openly homosexual. It’s just utter madness why homophobia exists in a community lead by so many iconic LGBT figures.
The metal community is a wonderful community, the camaraderie and passion in it is unparalleled. However, as a community that prides itself on kindness and tolerance, we need to stand up to the bigots that threaten to ruin it for the rest of us.