Last week, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert of Cynic publicly came out as gay and the majority of the metal world’s reaction was basically “That’s cool man, now come play (insert name of city here).” Of course, you knew that someone was going to make some kind of stupid comment about it, and that comment comes courtesy of Vik Guitars owner Vik Kuletski. This past weekend, Kuletski made a since post about finally understanding why he doesn’t like headless guitars and then alluding to the news about Cynic as the reason why (Paul Masvidal is known for using headless guitars). The since deleted post can be seen below and features responses from Scar Symmetry’s Per Nilsson and Periphery’s Adam Nolly calling out Kuletski:
And here’s a screenshot from Kuletski’s page that’s a little more blatantly homophobic:
Kuletski attempted to calm the shitstorm with his next post (which has also been deleted) and subsequently made it worse:
There’s a big difference between “don’t like” and “hate”. I don’t hate gay people, pretty much as I don’t hate anything. Hatred is a sick feeling and never led to anything good.
Fuck whatever you like, it’s none of my business. But don’t expect me to like or sympathize your choice just because you are “different”. I may be tolerant to you and that’s it.
Periphery’s Adam Nolly took to Facebook as well to make a statement condemning Vik Guitars:
Earlier this year ViK Guitars and I privately ended our endorsement agreement at the end of its specified contract period. I was dissatisfied with the recent customer service issues I had observed and felt that it wasn’t right to continue with further contractual obligation. With his word that he was working to resolve those issues, we agreed to keep the matter private. However, his recent anti-gay comments have pushed me to make a statement: As a firm supporter of LGBT rights, I find his sentiments offensive and disgusting, and moving forwards I simply cannot have my name associated with his brand.
To those that have purchased my signature ViK or any other model on my recommendation and have experienced customer service issues, delays, or are similarly offended by the anti-LGBT comments he has publicly expressed, I can only apologise. My experience with ViK Guitars had been extremely positive at the time of my endorsement, and I do want to be clear that the endorsement was based on my genuine belief that the guitars he builds are among the very best available.
I am honestly shocked by this situation, and I’m still gathering my thoughts on the matter.
Fellow Periphery member Misha Mansoor also posted about Kuletski’s comments:
Two years ago I placed an order with Vik Kuletski of Vik Guitars. Today that order has been cancelled. I cannot in good conscience actively promote or support him or his company with his outspoken and unwavering views against LGBT and their rights. The guitar in question had been arranged at a discounted price in exchange for promotion on my end, but after his comments I refuse to promote or be associated with his brand. I felt the only recourse was to ask for my money back. He assures me it will be back in my Paypal in full this Friday. I can only hope he sticks to his word.
I had known about his issues with delivering guitars in a timely fashion to customers, and his apparent lack of skill at customer service in general. I have also experienced this myself over the last two years. I had been happy to wait at the time because I knew the guitar would be of good quality and had been making an effort to resolve his issues. I had hoped to be able to promote a new and improved Vik Guitars.
I paid for the balance of the guitar in full in January with the promise that the guitar would be ready by NAMM. It wasn’t. When I asked for an update as to when my guitar would be sent out earlier today, Vik made it clear that he would not send me the guitar if I did not agree with and support his viewpoints. I told him that my morals and ethics are worth more than a guitar.
I believe in freedom of ideas and freedom of speech, but I also believe that you are free to face the consequences of what you choose to say. As a business owner, he was representing more than just himself, and I was not okay with his bigoted views extending to me. I have to say that it is refreshing to see that the grand majority of my peers feel the same way about this matter in general. I don’t believe anyone should be discriminated against for their sexual orientations as consenting adults.
Luckily for us, there are lots of great luthiers and guitar companies that not only build great instruments, deliver them on time, and stick to their word, but also don’t feel that bigotry should be part of their mission statement. I recommend you support those companies moving forward. I also hope that you support your brothers and sisters in the LGBT community who need your help to be treated as the equals they deserve to be.
If there’s anything to take away from this experience (besides watching what you post on the internet), it’s that people in this community are willing to band together in someone’s defense when they need to. Remember kids: don’t be a jerk, especially if you own a guitar company.