Baroness' Gina Gleason: "Heavy music carves out a place for people to shine a light on injustices"

Baroness guitarist Gina Gleason writes openly about equality, the rock scene, and the notion of "being a female in a band"

Baroness' Gina Gleason: "Heavy music carves out a place for people to shine a light on injustices"
Gina Gleason
Stephanie Augello

With the tremendous amounts of inequalities in the world, it is challenging to say what the word 'equality' means to me personally. People are denied fundamental human rights and equal opportunities every day in ways that I could not even begin to imagine. I cannot imagine walking in the shoes of someone who has been separated from their family or detained at a border, needing to seek asylum. I cannot imagine being the victim of violent hate crime, discriminated against for my race, or any number of social or economic injustices. I grew up in a part of the world with clean running water, a roof over my head, access to school, and a right to express myself. There are people with experiences immensely more important than mine. I can only strive every day to have an open heart and mind, and to not be blind towards the inequalities around me on a global scale, as well as within my home community and music world.

Heavy music carves out a place for people to shine a light on injustices; on issues and experiences that are hard to talk about, express, and even feel. It makes me proud to be a part of a musical genre that has so many microcosms for anyone and everyone to feel welcomed. The first time I discovered heavy metal and punk, it instantly felt like a safe space. Attending local death metal shows as a kid gave me a sense of belonging and a constructive release for anger and confusion. When I began to play music, I felt an overwhelming sense of purpose and joy. I could be myself, in my room, alone with my guitar, free of judgment and rejection. When I began to play in bands, making lifelong friends with those who had the same goals and morals, is when I started to appreciate people's different experiences and backgrounds to my own because music connected us.

To this day, people ask me questions along the lines of, 'What is it like being a female in a band?' I never know how to answer stuff like this and usually try to ignore it. Maybe the answer is that I don't have a clue because I don't view myself through the lens of a 'female' doing something, as if it would be any different than someone else doing the same task. I can only be myself, and while gender identities do make up a part of who we are, they're only a part.

There's something about phrases like 'female guitar player', that in my mind, are only perpetuating people putting others into categories, people being different or unequal. I don't think focusing on any one aspect of a person that's different from another helps us see each other on an equal plane.

The world of music that captivated me from the beginning (and still does) is one where people come together, overcome hardships, and create communities. With all of the injustices in the world, music should be a place of supporting each other and celebrating each other's differences – not highlighting them. When I see support amongst my peers and friends in bands, it lights up my heart, and it makes me feel strong because I know the more robust our community is, the stronger that safe space will be for others.

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