An outspoken advocate of gay rights, singer, poet, illustrator, author and activist Otep Shamaya serves as a key figure in the movement to promote fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Speaking to BeaumontEnterprise.com, Shamaya stated about her decision to come out as a lesbian: "You know, it feels like we're getting close to that day where it doesn't matter. I have always known. I didn't know others had a problem with it until I was a teenager. It's just part of who I am.
"My first serious love and big-time girlfriend was in 2002. I told my parents, 'I'm moving in with this girl,' and they asked all the questions any parent would ask: 'Who is she? Does she have a job?' It didn't bother them. I was very surprised.
"It's been about 10 years since I came out. Being an out lesbian in heavy metal was kind of hard because my audience is straight and male, but it's gotten really good. We see guys bringing their boyfriends, girls bringing girlfriends and mixed couples coming in now. It's becoming a very inclusive tribe of people coming together behind the message."
Shamaya, who also finds time to be a passionate spokesperson for human rights, environmental issues and politics, is a budding vegetarian and very educated when it comes to all areas of animal rights. She even mentioned that PETA videos and literature influenced her decision to adopt her new vegetarian diet. "Looking at what they do and what they stand for, like how PETA fights for the rights of innocent beings, I support that," she said. "RAINN helps victims of violence, who have survived, which is something else I support."
She added: "My background is poverty, and I know what it feels like. The hopelessness, I know what it feels like. I worked my way out of it. I want other people to know that they have the ability to do that, too."
Shamaya's sixth full-length studio album, "Hydra", sold around 2,900 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 155 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD was released on January 22 via Victory Records.
"Atavist", the fifth full-length album from Otep (2011), opened with 7,000 units to land at No. 61.
Shamaya's 2009 CD, "Smash The Control Machine", registered a first-week tally of 10,400 copies to enter the chart at No. 47.