Judas Priest's Rob Halford on the persecution experienced by the LGBTQ community: "You can't get rid of bigots; you can't get rid of that kind of mentality...but don't give them a bigger voice."

Rob Halford
(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/WireImage via Getty)

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has discussed the increasing levels of abuse and discrimination suffered by the LGBTQ community in the United States and beyond in a new interview. Speaking to Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast, the singer - who publicly came out as gay in 1998 - acknowledges that the discourse within a lot of modern politics and media has created an environment of fear for many gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people. 

"People are terrified," he tells Maron [as transcribed by Blabbermouth]. "We have been part of a group of people that have been murdered, burned alive, whatever, tortured — all the most horrific things have happened to gay people, as they have for other minorities, whether it's the Jewish faith, the fucking Holocaust. So, yeah, as much as it's terrible, it's been terrible since day one. When is there gonna be an end to it? I don't think there'll ever be an end to it while we have the attacks going on, the extremist attacks for political reasons or for bigotry. You can't get rid of bigots; you can't get rid of that kind of mentality of people, but don't give them a bigger voice. 

"And that pushes on to people," he continues. "It's, like, 'Man, I would love to come out, but if I go walking down the street and somebody's gonna hit me in the back of the head with a baseball bat.' So what a terrible thing to have to walk through, as a gay person that's in the shelter of your own mind, but put that forward to people that are openly out and people know about it down your street. 'Hey, have you heard so and so? They're a f*g. Let's go kick the door in.' All that kind of mental stuff is going around. But even when you come out. I mean, I get it all the time. Not so much compared to some people, but I get bashed through texts. I see what people say about me and all that kind of stuff."

Halford confirmed his sexuality in an interview with MTV News in 1998 - something that was considered a landmark moment for representation in heavy metal. Earlier this year, he discussed the impact that being gay had on his career in the early days of Judas Priest in an interview with Metal Hammer

“In the past, I’ve been asked if being gay has done anything for my music. I’ve always said, ‘Probably not,'" he explained. "If Freddie [Mercury] hadn’t been gay, would he still have been Freddie Mercury? If Rob Halford wasn’t gay, would he still be Rob Halford? It’s a nebulous topic of discussion, but so far as all the trauma you go through before you finally come out of the closet goes, yeah it is important. I was one of the first metalheads to do that, on MTV in 1998, and I’ve seen this fantastic after-effect of people saying I helped them in their journey.” 

Last week, Judas Priest released new single Panic Attack, the first track to be taken from the British metal icons' latest studio album, Invincible Shield. The album will be released on March 8, 2024, and will be followed by a European tour.

Judas Priest tour dates 2024

Mar 11: Glasgow OVO Hydro, UK
Mar 13: Leeds First Direct Arena, UK
Mar 15: Dublin 2 Arena, Ireland
Mar 17: Bournemouth International Arena, UK
Mar 19: Birmingham Resorts World Arena, UK
Mar 21: London OVO Arena Wembley, UK
Mar 24: Frankfurt Festhalle, Germany
Mar 25: Munich Olympiastadion, Germany
Mar 27: Dortmund Westfalenhalle, Germany
Mar 29: Prague O2 Arena, Czechia
Mar 30: Krakow Tauron Arena, Poland
Apr 01: Vienna Wiener Stadthalle, Austria
Apr 03: Basel St Jakobshalle, Switzerland
Apr 05: Lyon Halle Tony Garnier, France
Apr 06: Assago Mediolanum Forum, Italy
Apr 08: Paris Zenith, France

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.