From the shy guy, to the testosterone filled rage-case, to the fan girls trying to hook up with bands, you see many walks of life as a musician. Unfortunately, these assumptions are false perceptions we create based on what we see on the surface and what we’re taught they mean. Beneath that outermost layer is a jumble of joy, hope, despair, uncertainty – as many as you yourself could ever feel. Remember though, if you can form opinions, so can they.
As a female drummer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this exact exchange: “Hey, it’s hot that you’re a chick drummer.” Thanks. “At first, I thought you were totally gonna’ blow, cause you know, girls aren’t usually good.” Thanks? I guess? “So are you single?” I’m not interested. “You must be a lesbian.” It then turns into a conversation about how I just haven’t met the right guy. Well, they’re not wrong when they say I’m a lesbian, but just because I’m not interested, it doesn’t make me a lesbian.
While I shouldn’t have to, I’ve grown used to this type of tiresome conversation. Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to flip it around into conversations where the other party winds up leaving with more knowledge on the subject. I’ve learned that many of these men are very insecure with themselves and need to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are “real men”. To me, it seems that they are just trying to appease to this image and hide their true selves. One story in particular stood out to me.
There’s no better feeling than live music; that kick drum pounding into your chest… You just can’t beat it. Occasionally, we’re able to get out to other shows. This particular night, a couple of us went to support another friend’s band. This other band played that night and my friend introduced us to a particular member who, for the sake of anonymity, we will call Ted. Ted was this big, burly guy that fit the very personification of the deep south. Ted kept looking back and forth between my friend and me and would whisper things to him. After a few times, my friend perked up proudly and shouted, “Why, yes! Brittany is, in fact, a lesbian!” Ted looked around in shock like some taboo bombshell had just been dropped and began apologizing to me. It was as if he was expecting to be berated by me, but what confused him even more was that no one in the bar cared and I laughed about it.
It’s no secret that I’m a lesbian. Everyone in the scene here knows it. The only time it’s a shock is when, like Ted, they don’t know me or we’re in a new town. Even so, I’ve run into very little animosity – mostly questions, really. Ted and I talked for hours about the gay community. He said that he assumed that all lesbians were the traditional man-hating "feminazis" the media paints us as. He had no qualms with true feminists – the ones that fight for equality rather than retaliating with more sexism. He even considered himself to be a feminist sympathizer. Our conversation was very inspiring and he was surprised by how I understood his viewpoints and answered with a sense of humor, rather than biting his head off. He said it even changed his outlook. After some time, he opened up and told me that he had experimented with other men and even liked it, but was unsure of whom he was and it scared him.
I left the show feeling like I had fulfilled some higher purpose; however, it seems I did make a mistake that night. I guess where I went wrong with Ted was when I didn’t tell him I was also in a band. A few weeks later, we wound up on the same bill performing with Ted’s band. We hit the stage and Ted was there watching, seemingly completely mesmerized. When we got off, I remember Ted pulling me to the side and begging, pleading even, that our previous conversation had never happened. He explained that had he known I was in another local band, he never would have said anything to me. While I felt he had nothing to be ashamed of, I told him I had no intention of telling anyone. This was his decision to make and I had no right to out someone who clearly wasn’t ready. I guess that meant a lot to him. It seems that we have an understanding when I see him now. I’m just another one of the guys to him, but he seems to have a bit more respect toward me. Since then, other members of his band have openly talked to me about different things – things that most others would find odd, degrading even. In all honesty though, who am I to judge?
The human mind is one that is constantly absorbing information, interpreting things as it pleases, determining whether or not to share in another’s beliefs or approach new ideas with extreme prejudice. In this sense, it is the mind itself that forms the first barrier between the acceptance we desire and the division that we must overcome. When it comes to acceptance, I admittedly have many faults in my perceptions of others. This I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt; but despite my feelings on a subject, I find myself trying to understand and even debating my beliefs. It helps me to understand the perspectives of others. With this in mind, the first step toward the acceptance we crave can be identified as the knowledge that comes with understanding one another. Understanding opens the door to acceptance and acceptance is the doorway to a higher love. Much like the saying, “You must learn to love yourself before you can love another,” we must learn to love ourselves, and even teach others to love themselves, before they can begin to understand that the world is so much deeper than what we initially perceive.
Brittany Yarnell plays drums in I, Ohms, from Virginia Beach, VIrginia
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