JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Rob Halford spoke with Apple Music’s Hattie Collins in honor of Pride Month, to talk about being a gay musician throughout the 1970s.
Speaking about what it was like to be the first heavy metal icon to come out as openly gay in 1998 during an MTV interview, Halford said: “It was beautiful. It was very unplanned. 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 of breath, ‘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.”
He added: “So there I was, and I did the interview, and then I walked back to the hotel, and went back to my room, and [I said], ‘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 rumors, 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.”