JUDAS PRIEST Frontman ROB HALFORD - "I Think Whatever Small Mark Or Point I Was Able To Make By Announcing My Sexuality In A World Famous Heavy Metal Band – I’d Like To Think Some Good Came Of It"

June 15, 2007, 15 years ago

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BW&BK;'s Mitch Lafon spoke to The Metal God, ROB HALFORD (JUDAS PRIEST) during the singer’s recent Canadian promo stomp talking about his new Metal God Entertainment company and his latest CD, Metal God Essentials Volume 1 (a Best Of compilation featuring tracks from his HALFORD solo days, his band project FIGHT and a few of new tracks). Here is the IV and final Part of the chat (click here for Part I, Part II and Part III):

ML: If I may, when you came out – were you afraid that the hardcore fan base in places, for example, like Alabama...

RH: “It’s great because when I go on stage in places like Tennessee or Alabama the gay metal heads are up front giving it the Devil sign. It’s something that I’ve always felt comfortable talking about since my coming out experience...”

ML: I haven’t offended you...

RH: “No, not in the least. It was ’98 or whenever, but here’s the deal. I’ve always said that if I hadn’t come out as I did when I was away from Priest. If I’d stayed in Priest and not been able to step out – would I have been able to make that ‘proclamation’? And I don’t know the answer to that. It’s just a thing you mull over in your brain. On a purely personal level, I think if you’re a gay man or woman that make that statement because. And again just on a personal level, I’ve always tried to be as open and honest as I can be and not being able to disclose that side of me always made me feel as I was not being truthful and I think that equates to your music. Music is an incredibly powerful force in humanity and people are attracted and attached to your music in a very personal way. So, it was a balancing act for me and I often thought before I stepped out of Priest ‘should I say’ and ‘what will happen?’ Anyway, as it happened I made the statement as I was away from Priest and by the time I got back to Priest it was like water under the bridge.”

ML: It shouldn’t make a difference anyway...

RH: “Well no, it shouldn’t and it didn’t obviously.”

ML: But you must have been fearful through the ‘70s and ‘80s...

RH: “Oh yeah yeah yeah and I think ‘it’s’ still fearful now. There’s got to be other gay Metal players out there that are not stepping out.”

ML: I just read today about STYX' Chuck Panozzo and his new book...

RH: “In the specifics of Metal, it’s still viewed as a male dominated domain (which it isn’t). That’s why I love bands like EVANESCENCE and AVRIL LAVIGNE (even though she’s not totally Metal – she’s hard.)”


RH: “Exactly. So, I think destroyed the myth if there was a myth that this was a kind of ‘redneck’ experience. It’s not. Metal heads are as compassionate, tolerant and caring as all other forms of music fans are.”

ML: But when you held back from saying it in the ‘80s and early ’90s – there was a fear that they weren’t. There was a fear that they were homophobic...

RH: “Oh, yeah and that still exists to a certain extent although I think there’s been tremendous advances and changes in that area though different cultures. There’s more openness and honesty now, but there’s STILL the bigotry and hatred that exists and that’s just a human flaw in my opinion. You still get it all the time – kids in playgrounds getting bullied or bullied on the Internet or whatever and that’s terrible. I think whatever small mark or point I was able to make by announcing my sexuality in a world famous heavy metal band – I’d like to think some good came of it. When you’ve lived with this all your life – you don’t think of the ramifications of the statement, but when you get Emails from 16 year old Metal heads who say ‘because you did what you did I was able to tell my father the next day about myself and he embraced me for it’. You don’t think about that, you know. And I’m not really in the gay culture because the gay culture is pretty much stereotypical in the music world. We’re overlooked to a certain degree, but we’re out there. There are gay Metal heads all over the world for a fact and I think it’s great when everybody can stand in a venue and accept each other.”

ML: There shouldn’t be ‘gay Metal heads’ or ‘non-gay Metal heads’ – you should just enjoy the music...

RH: “Totally and I would like to think that that day would come and where we’ll assimilate. I’ve got an apartment in Amsterdam and the gay culture is so assimilated that it’s not even discussed. It’s just there. Your sexuality is irrelevant. The color of your skin is irrelevant. Your religion is irrelevant. You’re just a person. I would love for that day to come along, but I think while you’re still working with that human flaw – to a certain extent which is in bred by the family unit, but you can’t really walk away from the fact that it is not a matter of choice. It’s not choosing. The extreme right wing conservatives in politics and in religion constantly state ‘well, you made that choice’. You don’t make this choice. You don’t. I didn’t choose to be who I was. I’m just that way, you know and there’s more and more proof allegedly from the scientific community that that’s an absolute fact. It’s like, you know, you don’t choose to be a black man. You don’t choose to be a Jew. That’s just it.”

ML: I see we’re running out of time – so one more question about that. Was there a sense of relief and can you sit back and go ‘haaa’?

RH: “Yeah, you do.”

ML: Does it change the touring experience because you don’t have to hide anything or have the roadies make sure nobody sees....

RH: “No. Frankly, nothing has changed in that world. Other than I can be open and honest about who I am and I think it’s drawn me closer to my fan base than ever before. I would urge all gay people that are in the closet to somehow find the piece of mind, the contentment and the strength because it’s a very empowering thing to do... Gives you a lot of strength because once you come out of the closet – all those ‘he’s a fag’ and ‘he’s a cocksucker’ mean absolutely nothing. It’s like empty bullets. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. So, you’re taking away your walls and everything around you that you put up and suddenly people’s attitudes, people’s interpretations, people’s opinions have absolutely no value because each of us are unique humans on this planet and we have a right to be who we want to be inside and what we want to say. I’m a total believer in the democratic system and just the human level on an open playing field.”

ML: So, it does sound like there was a great sense of relief. No more pretending. No more hiding...

RH: “I had these questions thrown at my in the ‘80s (from journalists) and I couldn’t answer them. I never denied my sexuality, but I always had a way of talking my way around it and now I don’t have to do that anymore and it’s great. I utilize that for whatever benefits can come from it.”

ML: Any last words?

RH: “It’s nice to be in Montreal. Nice to be in Quebec. I’ve got a hardcore fan base here. Always have great times when I come here with Priest or in the future with the Halford band.”

For the best in metal visit: www.robhalford.com; www.HalfordMerchandise.com; or www.HalfordMusic.com.

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