JUDAS PRIEST's Rob Halford talked to Billboard for its 2020 Pride Issue in which the magazine is spotlighting the experiences of artists and executives working in genres that are not always included in conversations about Pride in the music industry.
Speaking about the need for younger people to come out as gay publicly, Halford said: "If you stay in the closet, you're going to lead a double life. Then if you come out, for the most part, it's one of the most uplifting, thrilling experiences of your life — but equally, you have to be prepared for the pushback. We had a few letters: 'I'm never gonna buy a PRIEST record again, I just burned every album that I owned by PRIEST.' Like it was the guys in the band's fault as well that you're gay, that kind of mentality, that Trumpist mentality of attack, attack, attack.
"We are everywhere. My gaydar goes off and on when I'm onstage. I know my gays are with me, it's like a catty mom, "Where are my gays?" I know my gays are there and I see that on my social feeds and elsewhere, so there's just a different sense of visibility in that respect.
"I would just like to feel that younger gay metalheads hopefully have it a little bit better than we did — or at least I did — as a teenager growing up, when people like me were treated like a pariah. We were horrible, filthy, disgusting abominations — that's how we were looked upon. The journey is still a very long one and miles away from completion, but we're not hiding anymore for the most part, and it's a better place than it was when I was a kid growing up."
Halford publicly declared his homosexuality back in 1998 during an appearance on MTV News. Three years ago, he told Fox Sports 910 AM's "The Freaks With Kenny And Crash" radio show in Phoenix, Arizona that the response to his addressing his sexuality publicly for the first time was overwhelmingly positive.
"So I said that thing [during the MTV interview], and I went back to the hotel, and I thought, 'Oh, what have I done? There's gonna be a fallout,'" he admitted. "[But] I'd never seen such an outpouring of love from people in all my life — the letters, the faxes, the phone calls from everybody in the metal community: 'Rob, we just don't care. We want you to be who you are. We want you to sing those songs. We wanna come see you.' And that was a tremendously uplifting moment for me. And it was also a tremendously uplifting moment for metal. Because, for the longest time, metal was the underdog in rock and roll, metal was never getting any respect, metal was always at the back of the line. And so I thought, 'Well, isn't this great?' This just goes to show you that we in the metal community, as we call ourselves — probably because of the pushback that we felt because of the music that we love — we are the most tolerant, if you wanna say, the most open-minded, the most loving, the most accepting of all the kinds of music that we know in rock and roll. So it was a great moment."