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Challenging an ‘Imagined Community’: Discussions (or lack thereof) of black and queer experiences within heavy metal culture

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This article presents a discussion on how heavy metal’s foundational philosophy of inclusivity reproduces normative and ‘mainstream’ discourses that are oppressive to participants. Black and queer fans are the focus of this article as they face more overt and covert discrimination than other marginalized groups participating in localized heavy metal scenes. By using a recent example of the ramifications of speaking out about racism, this article will provide a brief overview on how racist and homophobic language by fans and musicians is not only a deterrent to active participation, but also a hindrance to the industry as a whole that places an emphasis on active fan participation for economic viability in an industry in which heavy metal record labels are not financially successful as other genre-specific record labels.
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Keywords: United States; blacks; heavy metal; homophobia; politics; queer

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The New School

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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