June 20, 2021

Judas Priest singer Rob Halford felt free after he came out as gay

Judas Priest singer Rob Halford felt an “enormous feeling of freedom” when he came out as gay on MTV in 1998.

The heavy metal legend admits he never planned to announce to the world that he was homosexual when he casually referred to himself as a “gay man” during the Q&A and he is still unsure whether he would have publicly come out if he had decided to make a more a more grandiose statement.

In an interview with Apple Music’s Hattie Collins, he said: “It was one of those things where I’m at MTV in New York, I’m talking about a project that I was working on called ‘Two’, with myself and John 5, the amazing guitar player. I was doing the rounds in New York City and ended up at MTV talking about this project. And in the casual course of the conversation, we were talking about the overall music, and the direction, and the feelings. And I said something to the effect of, ‘Well, speaking as a gay man, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ And then I heard the producer’s clipboard bounce on the floor. It was one of those gay sharp intakes, ‘Oh my God, he’s come out.’

“And so that was it. So it was very simple. I think if I’d … I still say today, if I’d have really thought this through, like today’s the day I’m going to come out, maybe I even wouldn’t … maybe I may not have come out per se, because it’s still a big moment for so many of us, with a close friend, with someone at school, with mum and dad, with whomever, to actually say, ‘Hey, I’m a gay guy or I’m a gay girl.’ It’s just a big, big deal. It’s just a glorious, glorious moment.

“So there I was, and I did the interview, and then I walked back to the hotel, and went back to my room, and go well, that’s it, now everybody knows. And then, of course, it hit the news wires and that was that.

“So wow, it was just this enormous feeling of freedom, and the pressure was gone, and there’s no more talking behind your back because you have all this ammunition of power as a gay person now, as an out gay person. Nothing can hurt you because this is it. You can’t throw insults, you can’t throw rumours, you can’t say anything negative about me because I am who I am. So that’s my wonderful memory of my great coming out day.”

The ‘Breaking The Law’ rocker also opened up on the effect hiding his sexuality had on his mental health as the band achieved success in the 1970s and 1980s.

Halford, 69, remembers he would lock himself away in his hotel room after the band had played live because he was worried about being outed before he came out to his parents and bandmates.

He said: “As a youngish guy in a thriving heavy metal band, it was difficult because I was in that place where a lot of us protected everybody else.

“[I thought] ‘Oh, I better not come out because it will upset my mum and dad. I hadn’t better come out because it will upset my friends, I hadn’t better come out because it’ll upset my band and my fans and record company.

“I had all that riding on my shoulders through those moments of Priest when we were gaining headway, particularly in America. It was difficult y’know, I went back to my room and turned on the TV and that was it.

“I couldn’t go to clubs, I couldn’t go to bars because it was suggested, ‘Don’t do that, because paparazzi might get you and we’ll have to do the cover story’ and all this innuendo.

“Mentally, on top of being the gay man in the closet, I had all these extra pieces piled onto my life at that time.”

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