Korn’s twelfth studio album, Serenity of Suffering, has just been released this week. So to commemorate that, I want to tell you a bit about how Korn saved my life.
I’m a young fan – only been listening to them for a few years. And of course, being raised in conservative Christian culture, I didn’t get to grow up with them until high school, and I have yet to see them in concert. But this band still means a lot to me.
I really got immersed in their music only several months before I began questioning my gender. Part of what helped me realize I was transgender was looking back on all the male celebrities and fictional characters that I found myself modeling after. Of course as a kid I just assumed I was attracted to them, and sometimes I was. But for others it was more than that. I wanted to be them on a level I did not even understand. Looking back I saw this pattern starting as young as six years old for me.
It’s also part of why I went through a lot of phases growing up – always latching onto a male figure I wanted to see myself in. Whether he was Indiana Jones, Vin Diesel, Loki, Spider-Man, Eminem, Till Lindemann, or Cad Bane (among many others). Always trying to be more like them. Always hoping someone would see me as one of them rather than who I was at the time, that is, a girl.
Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of Korn, was one of those role models for me. I connected to his music and listening to Korn was like parts of my own heart speaking right back to me. Not too long after my love for Korn multiplied was when I started realizing I was really a boy. So along with the other men who inspired me, Davis helped me a lot on that path and made my real gender clear to me.
But it wasn’t just that. I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a long time. I’ve been unofficially diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder, have severe depression and anxiety, and I also struggle with self harm and some substance abuse. On dark days when my mental illness suffered a lot, Korn was one of the band I went to for solace. Songs like Tearjerker, Falling Away From Me, and Here to Stay connected to me and said exactly what I was feeling. They drowned out the thoughts telling me I should hurt myself or worse, kill myself. They were my company on lonely nights when I had nobody to go to for help. I even categorize my Korn albums on which ones to listen to depending on my day. One is my comfort album, another is for anxiety attacks, another for heavy depression, etc etc.
But Korn also did one more thing. For the past couple years I’ve been trying to make sense of a lot of things that happened to me growing up. The way I was raised in conservative Christian culture, being a preacher’s kid, being bullied/neglected during middle school and high school, and some other bad stuff. Sometimes it’s really hard to understand how those things made me feel and the effect they had on me long term. But Korn had a way of putting the feelings I didn’t understand to words. Songs like Souvenir, Do What They Say, and Fear Is a Place to Live – all had lyrics that made me realize “that is what it was like. That’s what happened to me!” Of course I’m still a long way from putting together all the pieces of the last two decades, but some of Korn’s songs were a big step for me down that path.
There’s something about having music like that which can really help you. When you find a song that puts what’s in your heart into words, the comfort that you’re not alone and the relief that it’s not all made up in your head, is indescribable.
So there you have it. Korn helped me discover I’m transgender. They helped me cope with my mental illnesses and self harm. And they helped me make some sense of my past.
Of course Korn wasn’t the only thing getting me through all of that. But credit where it’s due, I might not even be here if it wasn’t for this band.
So thank you, Korn – sincerely, from a very young but very grateful fan.