Metalheads are often the most misunderstood individuals in society, as is the genre itself and the culture it has spawned over the nearly fifty years it has existed. It is because of the black sheep stigma put onto metalheads, that they often stick together and shun mainstream society, replacing it with metal culture and their fellow brethren. Some manage to keep their life in the metal culture and their professional/everyday lives in balance, while others sometimes struggle.
Me, personally, I dress fairly normally in my everyday attire due to my work and obligations, but in my musical foray and attending concerts, I dress in my more comfortable attire, my more metal attire. I am a part of society but have always felt apart from mainstream society as well, yet I’ve never felt unwelcomed or separate from metal culture. If someone who didn’t know me saw me on the street, they’d think I’m a stereotypical preppy dad type, if they saw me at a concert or in my natural metalhead aesthetic, they would think the complete opposite.
Some people decorate their houses as an homage to metal, some adorn their cars with bumper stickers, some wear jewelry, and some get tattoos of their favorite bands, but all in all, it is up to the individual metalhead how to express their love of metal. The beauty of metal is in its diversity, in which each individual metalhead is their own person with their own likes, dislikes, style, and so on.
Just like any grouping of people, some metalheads drink, do drugs, and/or smoke, while others do not, so this stereotype is also a bunk one. You could literally apply this stereotype to any group, but people in an attempt to smear metalheads place it upon them all too often because they don’t understand us. I am a testament myself, as I don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink alcohol!
You will also not find more supportive fans, as metalheads buy merchandise (tee shirts, posters, flags, and patches) and are well-known to buy CDs and vinyl records even in our digital download and free streaming music era. This is especially crucial for bands that are underground and unsigned, whereas fans buying merch and music helps to keep the lights on. Fans of metal have a vested interest in their favorite genres and bands and this sometimes leads to gatekeeping and elitism, which is a double-edged sword, both keeping metal pure, but also keeping innovation, as well as new fans, away from the genre.
The metalhead life is one of culture, aesthetics, music, and brotherhood and is something that transcends any differences people may have. Truly being a metalhead is a lifestyle born of music and fandom that to outsiders may seem strange, but to metalheads feels like home.