Metal, homosexuality, and my paradigm shift.

I’ve been going back and forth on including this post. In light of the recent Chic-fil-A gaffe, and partly in regards to the ignorant skinhead who got identified with the hardcore/metal community in the Sikh shooting, I felt like this was appropriate. Read this post as if it were a brief piece in a larger whole. Thanks for reading. 

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I was 14 in 1998 and just recently had begun to explore the world of heavy metal. Thanks in no small part to my uncle Eddie and my best friend Dan (yes, I was that kid who shared the same name as my best friend) I had become engrossed in the sounds of distorted guitars and heavy bass. It was around this time that my uncle introduced me to the sounds of Texas hard rock/metal trio King’s X. At the time, they were introduced to me as a “Christian” band, which my youth-group loving self was all about. I was hooked immediately. The band’s sound and lyrics resonated with me in a way that no band had up until that point. The positive, vaguely spiritual and highly poetic lyrics smacked the face of everything that is Christian cheese. King’s X were real, authentic and just unknown enough that I could feel “cool” being into them.

Then I found out the lead singer is gay. It was right around the time I discovered the band that lead vocalist/bassist Doug Pinnick came out in the Christian rag HM. I don’t remember exactly when I read the article, but it was sometime after the fact. This will sound stupid to many of you, but to my youthful, Conservative leaning, idealistic self, to discover that the lead singer of my favorite band, my favorite CHRISTIAN band, is gay was… hard to take. Growing up in a conservative denomination, the homosexual orientation wasn’t exactly “accepted.” Still, as I read the honest, authentic, and real words of Mr. Pinnick on the computer screen at my grandparents’ house (since this was pre-2000 and internet and computers were still out of my family’s means), I couldn’t help but feel his struggle. I sympathized with him, as much as I could. I made the decision that, no matter what, his homosexuality wasn’t going to keep me from enjoying their music.

It was still a long time before I realized that this was only a step. As much of a move this was, there was still an implicit sense that homosexuality was not right. I could not be a full ally, because while I didn’t make it a big deal, homosexuality was “wrong” in my eyes. There was a lot of religious ideology to work through, here. And, as with Doug Pinnick, part of getting through that is owed to a representative of the heavy music community. Henry Rollins, the former Black Flag singer and current spoken word artist, remarked during a speaking engagement in Boulder, CO in 2006 that I was at about how he found opposition to gay marriage silly. He found it silly because, in his own words, “they aren’t fucking in your bed.” As the audience of the Boulder theater cheered I found myself struck by the potency of his words. It all made sense. Opposing people’s private lives and sexuality was not protecting my own privacy or sexuality, it was infringing on theirs. It was one more nail in the coffin. I’ve found it hard since then to be the same kid who was opposed to same sex marriage as I was in my younger days.

At the end of all this, what I realized is that everyone who is a citizen of the U.S. deserves to be afforded the same rights as everyone else. Sexuality is not something you can control. It’s in your center, that deep part of you that you can’t change, no matter what. It might not be the whole story, but it is a significant part. And if I wouldn’t want someone denying me rights because of my sexuality, who am I to say someone else should be denied?

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