By Hayden Wright
Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford came out as gay in 1998, and recalls the “warmth” and “love” he felt from the heavy metal community. In a new interview Halford lamented the state of equality in 2017 and said tolerance and open-mindedness are being rolled back in America and the UK.
“I just get so frustrated and angry that here we are in 2017,” Halford told Fox Sports. “Because of that society I grew up in, and to a still great extent today, we have this tremendous push back in equality. I always kind of felt as I was going through my teen years, my twenties and my thirties, things would be better – but they’re not. There’s still a long way to go in America and in my home country. And in some parts of the world, people like me get thrown off buildings. People like me get hung, just because of who we are.”
Halford added that practicing tolerance and acceptance is actually very simple, and he’s baffled by cultural resistance to LGBT rights and visibility.
“It’s a crazy world,” he said. “You’d think that by now we’d have just figured things out – live and let live, love each other and just accept each other for who we are. Life is short.”
The singer also opened up about his experience before coming out, specifically how he arrived at self-acceptance after years of hiding who he was from the world. When he finally came out, Halford says he feared backlash from his musical community.
“The thing about gay people is that, until we come out of the closet, we’re always protecting other people – ‘I can’t do this, because it’s gonna hurt so-and-so.’ We’re trying to live the lives of other people, and that’s the worst thing you can do,” he said. “You’ve gotta learn to love yourself, then you can go out in the world and try and figure everything else out. So I said that thing, and I went back to the hotel and I thought, ‘What have I done? There’s going to be a fallout.’”
However, Halford was pleasantly surprised by the affirming, accepting response he earned from heavy metal fans and peers.
“I’d never seen such an outpouring of love in all my life from everybody in the metal community,” he said. “‘Rob, we don’t care. We want you to be who you are.’ That was a tremendously uplifting moment for me. This just goes to show you that we in the metal community – probably because of the push back we felt because of the music we love – we are the most tolerant, the most open-minded, the most loving, the most accepting of all the kinds of music in rock’n’roll. So it was a great moment.”