We're coming to the latter stages of Pride month now and whilst we showed (and will continue to show) our support for Black Lives Matter, we've unfortunately allowed the Pride aspect of June to slip away from us. Today we are finally going to discuss the LGBTQ+ community, which has contributed massively to the music we know and love today. There are so many awesome LGBTQ+ artists out there and every single one of them deserves all the praise they get.
Naturally, of course, homophobia and transphobia still unfortunately exists within music, whether it be Kid Rock still using 'gay' as a slur like a teenager or xxxtentacion saying things like "Do you think I should tell that story about that f*ggot I beat up?" Christ alive, that's disgusting.
But perhaps the weirdest place for homophobia to exist is in rock and metal music. Rock and metal are genres known for being loud, dramatic, over the top and, certainly in the case of the latter, having ridiculous outfits, full of tight denim and leather. You can't help but feel there's a lack of self-awareness when a topless man in tight leather trousers says something homophobic.
Okay, yes, perhaps we're perpetuating the stereotypes of gay men there, and that in itself is harmful. But when you consider that it's these stereotypes that are often the cause of homophobia, it's hard not to see heavy metal as hypocritical when so much of what makes the genre what it is, is so similar in nature to the stereotypes of homosexuality.
The most obvious example in metal is Judas Priest singer and all-round legend Rob Halford. Dubbed the 'Metal God' by fans, he's been kicking ass since the 1970s, and came out as gay in the late 1990s. A freeing moment for him, he broke down in tears as he revealed his sexuality to the world, and fortunately was flooded with support by fans and peers alike. Frankly, if any metal fan is being homophobic, reminding them that Rob fucking Halford is gay should automatically shut them down.
Looking away from metal and more into rock, you'll find even more gay legends. The most obvious two who spring to mind are Elton John and Freddie Mercury, two bonafide icons who have each sold bucketloads of records. To be a homophobic rock fan is to deny two of the greatest musical artists ever to grace the planet, it just seems absolutely bizarre. 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was written entirely by a gay man, and that's not mentioned often enough.
Put simply. the list of LGBTQ+ rock icons is rather long. Mercury, John, and Halford are joined by the likes of Billie Joe Armstrong, Brendon Urie, Janis Joplin, Roddy Bottum, Mina Caputo, Pete Shelley, Brian Molko and Lzzy Hale. Perhaps the most shocking, to some, would be Gaahl, an openly gay musician in the black metal scene. Black metal has rather the reputation, but Gaahl himself states that nobody seems to care, which is nice to hear.
Also worthy of a mention is legendary producer and songwriter Joe Meek. A music producer in the 1960s, he suffered from a range of mental health issues, none of which were aided by the fact that he was gay - something that was illegal in the UK at the time. Before his tragic suicide, he wrote and produced some huge hits, including the infamous instrumental 'Telstar' by the Tornados, which incidentally featured Matt Bellamy's father George Bellamy on guitar. The guitar tone in Muse's 'Knights of Cydonia' is, in fact, a tribute to 'Telstar', with Bellamy junior looking to emulate the sound of the track's lead instrument, the Clavioline.
Anyway, let's get back to the matter at hand and sum up why homophobia in rock and metal is ludicrous. Metal, in particular, is seen as a genre for outsiders, for those who don't quite fit in elsewhere. Despite the aggression of its music, it should be a welcoming place for everyone. Homophobia in metal is a complete antithesis to what the genre should represent. The Metal God is gay, and that says everything you need to know.
As for rock, well, if you're a homphobic rock fan, you are disrespecting some of the best and most popular musicians the world has ever seen. It simply makes no sense to say "Gays aren't natural" or something and then sing 'I'm Still Standing'; it's hypocritical, brainless and wrong.
Homophobia is obviously awful, no matter the context. In rock and metal, though, it could not make less sense. These are both genres that have been at least partially built by the work of gay men and women, genres which wouldn't be the same without the influence of gay people. If you're not one for gay rights but you are one for rock and/or metal music, it's time to take a look at yourself. Your music taste wouldn't be what it is without gay people, so perhaps it's time to reconsider your outlook.
As for the rest of us, let's not let people forget the influence of the LGBTQ+ community on our favourite genres. Stand up for gay rights and remind people why they, like everyone else, deserve equal footing with cis and heterosexual people. Music, though perhaps not the most important, is certainly one reason of many, and shouldn't be forgotten when remembering what LGBTQ+ people have achieved.
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