How to come out as a trans man let me love metal

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My experience with metal parallels my experience with masculinity.

In my early teens, my fear had so many triggers. The days passed when I barely spoke out of anxiety over rejection or aggression from others. I never knew where this fear came from, only that it was there in pictures like the Slipknot masks. Even so, the rumors of their chaotic first school concerts captivated me like a violent act that you find yourself watching, even as you make your getaway. I didn’t know the message to be a maggot, to come out of suffering, to take anger and hate and find salvation. I was not then aware of how it all echoed my repressed transit. All I saw was sick, seductive brutality that pulled me into the heavier stuff, only to be repelled by crudeness again.

In my early twenties, the fact that my partner was a longtime metalhead made it difficult for me to escape. He slowly and carefully introduced me to Trivium, Gojira and Cradle Of Filth. Music in which a melody or a tender emotion shone through would almost win me over. But no matter how much I try, I never found myself in the sounds and symbols of metal. And when I did, what I saw was a fraud.

Slipknot masks

(Image credit: Roadrunner)

Then came COVID-19 and the Quarantine Streams from Devin Townsend. The music was heavy but light, mocking the precious arrogance of a human being. Going out of date with home-mounted cameras as his voice refused to cooperate at times, this was a man stepping forward to raise money for urgent causes, playing for hearts in need of a helping hand. thumb.

Seeing him find such modest humor in our shared global difficulties gave me hope at a time that was emotionally difficult for me. The isolation gave rise to depression, in part because I didn’t know who I was beyond exercising femininity for social situations. empath and the Devin Townsend Project albums gave me a comfortable space to feel, reflect, peer into the abyss within and see what was looking back at me.

But it was the journey he shared in his podcasts, to accept the darker parts of his soul as valid and worthy of artistic expression, that helped me come to terms with my own suppressed anger against a world. that had delayed my sense of self. The signs of my transited seem obvious in hindsight, now that I am speaking to my friends and family. But at the time, my not knowing presented itself as self-sabotage, separating the parts of myself that were called into masculinity because I thought they were anomalies. All the while, my real self was trying to surface.

Now I recognize myself as a whole person, I can see metal – especially extreme metal – as the conduit of masculinity that I once resisted. But personally, that softer, more feminine shade must always be there; an openness to emotionality which is fortunately present in many heavy bands that I have discovered.

Take Leprous, whose songwriting took me out of a downward spiral of thought that I was alone in my newly identified gender dysphoria. To listen Aphelia for the first time was a lesson in the opposite, that I am going through the universal experience of learning who I am. Einar Solberg’s words translate so well into any dark night of the soul that I have seen the reality of my situation, that I am no different from anyone who has had the chance to introspect and to come out the other side. Still, this must not compromise brutality. Beheading of cattle Atlas of Death is unmistakably heavy, but easily one of the most moving extreme metal albums of recent years.


The reverse, however, is just as true. Such fierce masculinity should not come at the expense of my femininity. For my mental well-being, the two must coexist like Judas Priest’s twin guitars, the two tones present at different levels in different people. I can love metal now because I know myself as a man, but being a female presenter has never been the real barrier. Metal is beautiful to me because of the collisions and blurred boundaries between male and female, aggression and introspection, wherever it falls on the middle spectrum.

This is how the star of Cradle Of Filth came to my horizon. Their exultant perversion and respect for natural beauty brought my past and present together in one place. I have a penchant for the Gothic since childhood, falling for the history of Sleeping Hollow and Hans Christian Andersen The little Mermaid. When I first saw the video of Nymphetamine, his memory lingered in the same way that these stories first did. Looking back on it now, I see the sapphic mustache design as part of my discovery, like those pre-teen mini sexual arousals (looking at you Maleficent). I was still a little envious of this staging with a lustful Dani Filth watching, as if my subconscious knew everyone present was an aspect of me.

Finding a healthy pivot point between masculinity and femininity has made Cradle Of Filth one of my most important touchstones. That said, I do realize that there is a problematic nature to Dani’s many white cis-straight portraits of vampire ladies. Taking this awareness in my last listen through Witches hammer nonetheless reveals a combination of elements significant to me as a queer man: the Gothic novel by Immortally yours, the eco-conscious tragedy of Deflower the Maidenhead, the fantasy of just revenge in the title song. The Cradle is where I come back to find the triumph of diving into darkness, going deep to unearth the true emotion under any moment of fury, pride or envy I might be in. Plus, a good dose of camp never hurt anyone.


Speaking of pain relief, when I dive into the most noxious emotions I always struggle with, there’s no group more cathartic than Slipknot. The fear of those old rumors persists, but now I’m aware that part of it comes from fear of myself, I hear it in the lyrics and feel it in the abrasive instrumentation. It’s the sound of dragging yourself through an underground tunnel of steel wool to scrape the mud of self-hatred and loathing. Accepting this sound coincided with self-acceptance. It’s amazing that this group still exists despite tragic losses and infighting, to demonstrate the value of finding companionship and family through the hurt.

Exploring the full spectrum of my emotions through music has been the best healing balm for my dysphoria. Enslaved on condition that I wasn’t even looking for him. Despite the praise at the exit, Riitiir is an album that I only recently devoted time to, after witnessing the cathartic journey of Utgard and the austere and expansive beauty of Caravans to the outer worlds. The choir of Thoughts like hammers sums up the worst I felt in three words – ‘Elucidated, burnt, scared‘. Then the next track Death in the eyes of dawn respond to this fear with ‘Awake! / The embrace of anxiety / Will no longer strangle the brave ‘.

Discovering that an album that I have transmitted can now put words on my journey has been one of the most exciting stages of my journey. But I know from experience that sometimes a work of art comes to you when you are ready for it. Metal approached me when I was prepared for the job of looking at my true reflection. To see my anger, betrayal and self-hatred reflected next to my hopes and desires, where they always have been.


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