During a recent appearance on "The Jasta Show", TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick discussed the fact that there are very few openly homosexual musicians in the heavy metal scene. Saying that "the idea of a singer in a metal band being gay" was "shocking" prior to JUDAS PRIEST's Rob Halford coming out as homosexual during a 1998 appearance on MTV, Skolnick noted that "it's so cool that it's not a big deal" anymore.
Asked by host Jamey Jasta why he thinks there haven't been more musicians coming out as gay in the past two decades, Alex said: "I think there's sort of a silent agreement. It's like a 'don't ask, don't tell' thing," referencing the repealed United States policy on military service whereby gay Americans were permitted to serve in the military as long as they remained closeted. "I think people are cool with it — even the most conservative metal fans. And there are conservative metal fans. I hear from them sometimes. But they have a seat at the table too. And I think they're cool with it, but they don't wanna hear too much about it. It's almost like identity politics in a way. It's, like, 'Okay, you can do that, but just give us the music and don't make it…' And I can see that side of it as well. But I think it's a good thing that it's not an issue."
Skolnick went on to say that he and LAMB OF GOD frontman Randy Blythe interviewed Danica Roem — the heavy metal singer who in 2017 became the first openly transgender woman to be elected to the Virginia state legislature — for the last issue of their magazine Unbuilt. "She's amazing," Alex said. "She's part of the Virginia house of delegates, so it's the equivalent of the state senate in New York. She won a lot of people over — people that normally would never have supported somebody like that. She won 'em over, and it was a great thing."
He added: "So I think there's definitely more diversity, but there's still probably a ways to go."
Other heavy metal musicians who are part of the LBGT community include Doug Pinnick (KING'S X), Gaahl (GORGOROTH), Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert (CYNIC, DEATH), and Otep Shamaya (OTEP).
In 2017, Halford told Fox Sports 910 AM's "The Freaks With Kenny And Crash" radio show in Phoenix, Arizona that he thinks his position as the frontman of JUDAS PRIEST has opened the door in positivity for some. He explained: "[After I came out during the MTV interview], I went back to the hotel, and I thought, 'Oh, what have I done? There's gonna be a fallout.' [But] I'd never seen such an outpouring of love from people in all my life — the letters, the faxes, the phone calls from everybody in the metal community: 'Rob, we just don't care. We want you to be who you are. We want you to sing those songs. We wanna come see you.' And that was a tremendously uplifting moment for me. And it was also a tremendously uplifting moment for metal. Because, for the longest time, metal was the underdog in rock and roll, metal was never getting any respect, metal was always at the back of the line. And so I thought, 'Well, isn't this great?' This just goes to show you that we in the metal community, as we call ourselves — probably because of the pushback that we felt because of the music that we love — we are the most tolerant, if you wanna say, the most open-minded, the most loving, the most accepting of all the kinds of music that we know in rock and roll. So it was a great moment."
Neither did I. Or my lady (please don’t tell her) ?— Alex Skolnick (@AlexSkolnick) January 9, 2019