Otep Shamaya Talks About Being Out in Metal

As an out lesbian, Otep has become active with the Harvey Milk High School, acting as the spokeswoman for the Hetrick Martin Institute.

There’s also a song on the new album, “Rise Rebel Resist,” which she was inspired to write about “the hateful opposition to marriage equality.”

“There have been many who helped me so it’s the least I can do — pay it forward,” Otep said of trying to reach the LGBT community. “But I hope our music appeals to all people and promotes an atmosphere of exclusive inclusivity. Once the walls are bashed away, we can see just how similar we actually are.”

Having been out since before she was in the public eye, Otep said she has never had an issue with labels or management trying to hide her sexuality.

“If anyone ever had a problem with who I am, they kept it far, far away from my awareness,” the singer said.

She has, however, encountered homophobia and misogyny throughout her career, saying, “It’s the easiest path of thinking for the more simpler, single-celled sapiens in our society. Attack the gender, attack the sexual orientation. But for the most part, our audiences are amazingly progressive thinkers. “

Otep said the metal community is aware of the things the band “lives by and stands for.”

“Some bands just use politics and activism and strong songs to sell albums but don’t believe or practice what they preach,” Otep said. “We do and I think we are respected for that.”

Otep said that she thinks gay men have more difficulty in the scene.

“It’s still a strange hypocrisy that exists among the aggro-masses,” she said. “I suppose, on some base level it makes sense: Our species is driven by sex, lesbians are stereotypically thought of as ‘sexy,’ so they are ‘tolerated’ and even encouraged. Especially the hetero-flexible segment. The ‘gay for a days’ trick out the lifestyle, reinforce the stereotype. I guess it’s like going to Disneyland for them — a holiday from their inhibitions and bigotry.”

Not only does Otep challenge stereotypes about lesbians, her success in such a male-dominated music genre is an inspiration to women of all sexual orientations.

You don’t have to be a metal fan to appreciate that.

OTEP is currently on tour. Find out what dates they will be coming to your city this fall at MySpace.com/otep, and read our 2005 interview with Otep Shemaya.

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