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I have a strange question to pose, but I need to caveat this so it doesn’t devolve into something ugly or even benignly ignorant.

- I am a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ community. If you are not, that is fine, but I wanted to say that my observations and question are from that perspective, and I’m looking for factual or even anecdotal responses, not moralizing in any direction.
- The observations are strictly my own, which is why I’m asking this in the first place...I’m trying to satisfy my own curiosity about this, not form some scientific or statistical conclusions.

Whew okay. So like many of you, I actively participate in many social media groups that focus on specific types of gear. Being a multi-instrumentalist (meaning I suck at several instruments) and just a huge fan of gear in general, I tend to get stuck in deep in these groups, discussing tone woods, formats, specs, etc. all this is just to say I’m not a casual lurker in these groups.

I have noticed in the past two years or so that there are certain gear genres that have a disproportionate amount of self-declared trans people in them as active members of these genres. The two that REALLY stand out are effects pedals and modular synths. I can count on one hand the number of openly trans folks I’ve met in guitar, bass, and drum groups combined, but I couldn’t tell you the number of trans modular synth folks or pedal DIYers that I’ve run into.

Why do you think that is? Here are the things I have thought of that could attribute such participation. I AM NOT SAYING ANY OF THESE ARE DEFINITIVELY A FACTOR.

1. Both FX pedals and modular synths have openly trans manufacturers, while I have yet to meet a openly trans luthier online. Not saying that there aren’t any, but if there are, they are not talking about it in guitar/bass groups.

2. For modular synths, I think the community as a whole is a little geekier than, let’s say, a guitar group. But I’m not sure if that makes any difference in terms of acceptance.

3. Related to 2, in the groups and communities I’m part of, I get the sense that people feel a little freer to express themselves in certain gear areas than others. Guitar groups tend to chase tone and feel, which may close off some experimentation outside of a tight focus, while pedals and modules tend to be all over the map...a lot of those devices don’t produce what would generally be called “musical” sounds. Again, I’ve described this poorly, but I hope you get what I’m saying.

So why do you think this may be the case, or do you even think this is the case? I am most fascinated by the pedal builders who come off as either Heathkit loving Popular Mechanics nerds or wild and quirky androgynous/gender fluid characters. I love it all. Diversity is the answer to a lot of problems, I think.

But more than why you think this exists (if you think it does), I’d love to hear what we as enthusiasts could do to make other gear communities more inclusive?

Thanks for reading all this.

Last edited by zeronyne; 01/05/21 07:03 PM.

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That's interesting. I wonder if Wendy Carlos has anything to do with the synth aspect. idk


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I totally agree - your OP is the oddest OP I think I've ever seen smile

If you're talking about Fran...you're talking about a person who is totally not interested in being perceived as representing any sort of group. This I get from quotes, not interpretations.

Other than Fran, I have no idea who and what you are talking about to be honest.

The "T"s have a social/biological/personal dillemma of the greatest difficulty. I'm not sure drumming up visibility and notoriety - perceived as perhaps good for the large-scale "T" community - is a safe course, mentally-emotionally-socially-professionally, for many "T"s in particular. The other colors in the famous rainbow seem to have, not an easy path by any measure, but an easier path than the "T" path.

Recommended literature on this issue - the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Won the Pulitzer in 2002. This book opened my eyes to many things of which I had zero exposure or understanding or awareness.

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I think there's a fairly simple answer. I'm old enough to remember when anything that wasn't straight heterosexuality was at least looked at askance, or outright condemned. People could lose jobs if they were gay. Times have changed, because the reality is that people are people. You judge them on their personality, ethics, accomplishments, etc. The body type used in those pursuits aren't relevant.

Modular synths and effects are more contemporary than guitars and other instruments with a long tradition. So I think it would be natural to want to feel part of a group of people who were raised with, or at least understand, more contemporary ideas about sexuality.

I knew someone who was making fun of Wendy Carlos in a conversation over dinner. I told him that I know Wendy, and she's one of the smartest people I've ever met. In any conversation with her, I have to pedal really fast just to keep up with her brain...and I wasn't always sure I succeeded.

In that instant, some switch was flicked and in his mind, Wendy became a human being who talked with me about stuff, rather than a stereotype of something strange and incomprehensible. Credit where credit is due - he turned on a dime, and became an advocate for LGBTQ rights. He realized he had been wrong...better late than never.

Oddly, I think people "coming out" has led to greater acceptance. When you have an awesome neighbor who turns out to be gay, you have no choice but to recognize that awesomeness takes priority over someone being in love with someone of the same sex.

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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
I totally agree - your OP is the oddest OP I think I've ever seen smile

If you're talking about Fran...you're talking about a person who is totally not interested in being perceived as representing any sort of group. This I get from quotes, not interpretations.

Recommended literature on this issue - the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Won the Pulitzer in 2002. This book opened my eyes to many things of which I had zero exposure or understanding or awareness.

nat
Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I wasn’t thinking of Fran specifically because of what you mentioned...she’s not really into talking about it. I was thinking of Devi Ever, Emilie from Mutable Instruments, and a bunch of participants in the community. And you observation is dead-on but I was afraid to start a firestorm: sometimes it’s not safe to out oneself. I’m hoping that will not always be the case.

And again, I’m not even stating that there is some sort of exclusion going on. I was just trying to see if my observation was corroborated or if it was just a personal perception. Maybe you’re all trans but just don’t mention it. smile


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To tell the truth, I have no idea of and really no interest in the sexual preferences of the people I casually deal with. I do know about the obvious LGBTQ people like Elton John, Piotr Tchaikovsky, Wendy Carlos, Freddie Mercury, and Melissa Etheridge, but unless it's obvious, I don't know and don't care.

I don't know if these people I casually deal with are vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant, sports fans, joggers, binge watchers, rock climbers, nature lovers, Lutherans, atheists, social drinkers, or whatever. They all made very good music, and that's what matters to me.

Sometimes I may find out someone is 'different' and I'll think "I didn't know that" but that's about it. It doesn't change anything. I'm neither a supporter of the LGBTQ community, nor am I anti-LGBTQ. They are just people with different sexual interests than mine. Vegans have different dietary interests, sports fans have different entertainment interests, and so on. It's really no big deal to me.

I gigged in Key West many years ago. While I was standing on the street in front of the hotel waiting for a friend to bring the car around a gay man hit on me. I don't remember the exact words of the invitation, but it was to 'have some fun'. I was surprised and just smiled and said, "No thanks, I'm waiting for a friend." In retrospect, I'm flattered he found me attractive.

I was in a band with a guy who was black, Jewish and gay. He would say he had 3 strikes against him. He was an excellent pianist/organist, could sing backing vocals, had excellent input on our band arrangements, and was a nice guy. That's all that mattered.

I was in a band with a Mexican bass player. Some bigoted club owners wouldn't hire us because of him. Our agent said that he didn't care if a person was black, white or purple, but he let us know that in some club owner's eyes, if you aren't pure white, you are a N*****. The agent never failed to find us work, but there were certain places we couldn't gig at.

In the 1970 I was in a band with a blind guy from France. He had long hair, plastic rimmed sunglasses, as a European carried a 'man purse'; and when walking I used to lead him arm in arm. We had a gig in a redneck bar and when we walked in I got a taste of what it must feel to be gay in a bigoted world. When they found out he was blind it was OK. He later went back to France and became a big star.

People are people, I tend to like them unless they do something to cause me to dislike them.

But back to your question. I don't know that much about it, but I suspect getting a sex change operation is quite expensive, so there are probably many fewer people in the world who get that operation than those who would like to change their gender. That might be why you see fewer of them.

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I might add, when I was young and in school, plenty of guys hated the 'queers'. I just figured it just meant there were more girls for me to chase.


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Reading the topic and living in the same general geography I was thinking, (geezer voice) well it goes back a 100 years to the southwestern Michigan villages of Saugatuck and Douglas and then I realized that I had mistaken the acronym...

I wonder if a part of it is just a desire to live a life that is authentic to who they are without constant judgment. I have been more aware of the population in the nerdier areas of the library and archive world. Places where people can do their work and be comfortable.

It is still a pretty harsh environment. I can think of a Chicago front woman with an uneasy relationship with the city. And Chicago is a pretty big city.

There has been more progress in the last ten years. I regret that it was generally pushed aside in the 1970s when out became out.

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I don't have much of a perspective on this. I've surfed a few music forums, mostly for studio recording and guitar/bass.
MPN is just about the only fora that I post in, there is a variety here and a fair bit of goofy humor but not much that is related to gender, although it appears that MPN is primarily male.

As to what people do:
A. Do we know if the people who post on fora are typical of the people who engage in particular musical pursuits or could it be one of the defining factors of a group that they post on fora?
B. Humans are entirely, massively diverse (to say nothing of goofy and weird). There is one of each and then some. It can be true that those who have similarities will convene and converge but it is also true that some of us are loners and prefer to avoid joining since a solitary existence can be much less complicated (but still impossibly complex).

I'm an old white guy guitarist by the way but having been born a left-handed autistic weirdo I may have a different perspective on humanity. Another intangible aspect is I was raised in Fresno California, which despite being a podunk shithole city is also quite diverse in terms of there being people living there whose ancestors lived all over the planet. One learns that we are all different and all similar. All we truly want is love and respect if we are more or less sane.

Having run crime scene film for a few years back in the 90's I can certify that there are people who are not sane, not safe, and capable of terrifying deeds.

None of this is probably helpful but it's what I got. Cheers, Kuru


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Gay shmay, I have my own laundry to do, don't you? That's been my only battle cry over it for years.

"Thanks for a country where no one is allowed to mind his own business." ~ William S. Burroughs

If almighty America would simply put more of its ignorance behind it and stop being so judgemental and juvenile, most of the clattering wouldn't even exist. The waste of time it represents is colossal. Virtually everyone has at least one big booger-bear burden on their backs, if not four. I'll ignore your milky eye if you'll ignore my hump. If anyone should be accepting of people in one of the "Other" categories, it should be artists, musicians and especially composers. If you're worth your passions, you've felt creatively divided more than once and had to plow through it. Its not that big an ask to do a comparative cost/benefit analysis and synthesize a better attitude. My primary thought, personally, is how sorry I feel for whatever kept Wendy Carlos from continuing to grow in our community as a treasured master and presenting new works. Her music is golden and the rest ain't my business.

I have a sharp lesbian friend who possesses a wicked sense of humor. She says "I was born this way and I'm perfectly normal. Well, mostly." Perfect attitude.

So instead of gnawing on some pointless, circular non-issue, especially if it involves standing on someone's back, especially someone I've never even met... I'm having unholy congress with my D-50 Cloud synth. I almost feel like posting a short review of how broad it really is, as well as pointing at its brittle 8-bit lacks and laughing like a sterno bum. laugh


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Originally Posted by David Emm
My primary thought, personally, is how sorry I feel for whatever kept Wendy Carlos from continuing to grow in our community as a treasured master and presenting new works. Her music is golden

Unfortunately I believe it had a lot more to do with the business end of things, which will eat people up and spit them out regardless of race, color, creed, religion, or sexual preference.

The thing I've never understood is why anyone would care about someone else's sexuality. Most people have enough problems handling their own smile

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I should also add that this is an unusual OP, but it's also unique. And, it started me thinking about why acceptance of [whatever] is more prevalent in some communities than others.

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Great topic, and I have no answers. But what I can say is that one of the most fascinating, intelligent guests I've had on my podcast is a transgender person and I doubt there's many better modular synthesists out there.

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I'm going to speculate that people tend to find comfort within certain interest groups. Birds of a feather, so to speak. From personal experience . . .

I have an adult son who has always been socially insecure, and he's also the textbook definition of a nerd. He found a very comfortable place in the Dungeons and Dragons community while still in middle school. Some of it has to do with the community being virtual, so he's not required to see everyone face to face. He was also allowed to let his imagination flourish in the environment completely without judgement. He did dungeon mastering for a few years, and his narratives were quite elaborate and celebrated. The community appreciated him for what he did and nothing else really mattered. I don't think his situation is unique, nor isolated to people with social challenges.

I cannot speak first hand for LGBTQ or other communities, but we all see the news reports, documentaries and movies about prejudice, acceptance challenges and worse. Everyone wants to have a place where they can be accepted for being themselves. This is no different than the early part of the century when most of the popular American song writers were Jewish (although many of them hid that fact), Black jazz musicians, or even keyboard players in the modern age. We are all in this forum because we find comfort in our community.

People want to be happy, and finding comfort in a community is one way to achieve that happiness. And the world is a better place for it. Now if we could only help convince a few otherwise closed minds.


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I do remember the Devi Ever and Fran (Frantone) drama. It's been a while though and can only assume no news is good news, regarding that old story.

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I've actually noticed a particularly high number of trans individuals who are guitarists/bassists and are really into hard rock and metal (also metalcore) music. That's mainly from online groups as well. Not sure if that would correlate with fx pedals at all but it's just interesting to me.


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Originally Posted by Anderton
The thing I've never understood is why anyone would care about someone else's sexuality. Most people have enough problems handling their own smile


I'd say there's no more complex topic regarding human behavior. In my experience the two things people just can't tell the truth about consistently are sex and money.

Why care about someone else's sexuality? First, there's the "two people involved" aspect, right? And....society is never without it's sexual taboos. At present, pederasty and incest are sexual behaviors that people care about (to condemn) almost universally. There are other behaviors on the borderline. It gets complicated!

I think it's ok to care about someone else's sexuality - as long as you first absolutely and primarily care about the other person.

To care is not by definition to interfere or judge. Of course, there are times when judging and interference are the ethical things to do, as long as caring comes first. And I think it's wrong to wait only until the behavior is outright criminal before judging and interfering. That seems counter to the very idea of caring first.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
<...snip...>
The thing I've never understood is why anyone would care about someone else's sexuality. <...>
Exactly.

It's only sex. It's not a big deal to anyone but the people who are having sex together. If you don't plan on having a sexual relation with that person, why do you care?

Notes


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What consenting adults do with their gear is none of my concern.

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Point of order, trans people have no specific sexual orientation. Being trans is about gender identity. Being gay or lesbian is about sexual orientation (which is neither a preference nor a lifestyle).


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Originally Posted by MAJUSCULE
Point of order, trans people have no specific sexual orientation. Being trans is about gender identity. Being gay or lesbian is about sexual orientation (which is neither a preference nor a lifestyle).

Thanks, I appreciate the clarification, and I'm sure it matters to people who want others to know who they are. But personally, my right-brain orientation finds it all too confusing. I don't get along well with labels smile I just want to know if I can engage in a good conversation with someone.

True story: I worked with a theater group in the late 60s scoring a rock version of "Midsummer Night's Dream," and there were a lot of gays involved (of which I was blissfully unaware). One in particular was a very good friend, He loved music, and often came over to visit and listen to albums (I had a pretty bitchin' stereo system). I liked to go out to dinner, so one day I said, hey, let's go get something to eat. He became very agitated and I wasn't sure why. He said "I think you need to know that I'm a homosexual." I said "Okay...anyway, so what do you feel like eating?"

I will never forget the look on his face of relief. He gave me a hug, and was happy I didn't tell him to get out of my life. That was my first realization that people who were not heterosexual had to deal with serious discrimination, and fear of letting others know who they were. Talk about naive...but we are talking late 60s, before Stonewall.

Another true story: After doing a gig I got a sob story from a girl who said she had missed her ride. I said she could stay at my place for the night, but I apparently wasn't interested in her the way she was interested in me. She told all her friends I was gay...and then they wanted to "convert" me (which frankly, did have its merits). People are crazy.

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Originally Posted by Marzzz
What consenting adults do with their gear is none of my concern.

Well, it concerns me. I've been f*cked by computers more than once. And I didn't like it smile

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But computers are never adults. They are spoiled children, and by the time they reach the pre-teens it's past the time to kick them out of the house.:D


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