Musings on metal and its evolving demography

Two members of Cynic are gay

Yesterday, wifey told me about an article that she read in which two guys from Cynic came out. I didn’t get to read it until a few mins ago. Here it is, for those of you who want to read it straight from the journalistic source:

I never knew that either Paul or Sean are gay. It also doesn’t change how I value them or their music, though. I’m not in love with all of Cynic’s music, but I do listen to it from time-to-time and appreciate their musicianship. From that era and scene, the bands that drew me more strongly were Atheist and Death. Sean Reinert and Paul Masvidal played on Death’s Human album though – which is my favorite album from them. Steve DiGiorgio played bass there (and on Individual Thought Patterns) and he’s one of my favorite bassists.

Sean Reinert (L) and Paul Masvidal (R)

Sean Reinert (L) and Paul Masvidal (R)

There’s also been some notice that comments/reactions to their coming out haven’t been overwhelmingly hateful or anti-gay amongst some of the bigger online metal communities. That’s interesting to me, because the typically macho image that surrounds metal would suggest that they’d take a verbal beating for this from internet trolls, and it hasn’t really happened. I think that its a definite sign of the times – we’re really more accepting of homosexuality in most Westernized societies now than ever before.

But, I’m not going to downplay the internal trauma that people can endure for not subscribing to a conventional sexual preference. Although the times have changed, to publicly out yourself as a member of a traditionally-oppressed demographic must be difficult. People are ostracized and worse all throughout the world for being different. Hell, a few years ago, when wifey and I went on our honeymoon to New Orleans during Southern Decadence (its a big, gay festival down there – I didn’t know about it until we were in the middle of it) I was reverse-discriminated by a large, southern gay man when we were taking the elevator to get out of our hotel. He was drunk, I was angry and his boyfriend was apologetic – and we ended up not fighting, but it was surprising to me. I’m more used to being harassed when I was a kid for not being white, being harassed for not being gay came as a surprise. The food down there was incredible though – and yes, I had burgers from the gay guys on Bourbon Street who cook the patties under hubcaps – and they really do know how to handle their meat.

Here are links to coverage from some of the other metal news sites that wrote about this:

A lot of commenters have basically said, “So what – their music still rocks,” and I can agree with this for the most part. I’m not going to agree with the idea that their sexual preference has nothing to do with their music though, because I think that it does affect them psychologically, and that, of course, affects their creative expression and freedom, which is naturally manifested in what they play on their instruments.

So, from the source article, when Sean Reinert says, “and I have to think — ‘That stuff you’re banging your head to? That is some gay, gay metal, man.'” – I interpret it a little differently from other people whose opinions I’ve read online. I do think its gay metal – in the sense that it was crafted from the minds and hands of gay musicians, so it brings their values and experiences with it. If they weren’t gay, then their lives could have progressed differently, their personalities could have been different, and ultimately, their music could be different.

Now, could I objectively tell the difference between music created by gay people vs. music created by straight people? In most cases, probably not, and in others, it would be my own ideas of what being gay means that would inform my notions of whether the musician(s) behind it was gay. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter though. If I like what I’m hearing, then I like what I’m hearing.

Finally, here’s an illuminating piece about the online reaction to this whole thing from Metal Injection and a discussion about whether its even a big deal from Metal Insider.

It’ll be interesting to see if there’s an increase in revealing the sexual preference of other gay metal musicians going forward, or if it’ll stay basically the same. It’ll also be interesting to see if this affects composition in any way – either musically or lyrically.

I’m also curious to see whether women or gay men experience more difficulties from being in the scene…

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