As part of June’s Pride Month celebrations, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford has revisited the day he came out as a gay man during a 1998 MTV interview, and revealed the ‘enormous feeling of freedom’ he felt after revealing his true self.
Halford’s spur-of-the-moment revelation came during an interview he was conducting at MTV’s New York office to promote his solo project Two following his departure from Judas Priest.
Speaking to Hattie Collins from Apple Music, the singer recalls casually dropping the phrase, ‘Well, speaking as a gay man…’ into the interview, and then hearing the producer’s clipboard bounce on the floor as he realised what the singer had said.
“It was one of those gay sharp intakes,’ he recalls.“‘Oh my God, he’s come out.’”
“So it was very simple,” Halford says. “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.”
“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.”
In the same interview, Halford admits it was “difficult” hiding his sexuality as Judas Priest became international stars.
“[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 bands 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.”