In the latest issue of Kerrang! magazine, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about the discrimination that the LGBT community still faces despite the broad social acceptance of homosexuality and the legality of same-sex marriage in some parts of the world.
"We've still got a long way to go," Halford, who revealed he was gay 20 years ago, said. "I think the LGBTQ [community], as we call ourselves now, still have to figure a lot out in terms of equality. But much like metal was regarded as the black sheep of rock 'n' roll — with people being like, 'Oh, you don't like heavy metal, do you? That's not music. That's crap' — you can apply that same thing to the gay community. It's a similar experience in some of its elements. But then again, it's 2018 and we still talk about sexual orientation, skin color, or 'my religion's better than yours.' You'd think there would have been some kind of change and people would have moved on after such a long time. "Now that I'm moving through my OAP heavy metal years [laughs], I thought a lot of it would be gone by now. And it's a shame."
He added: "We don't really get to spend a lot of time on this planet together, so there's no point in wasting it being divided. Love yourself, love each other, and love heavy fucking metal!"
Last year, Halford told Fox Sports 910 AM's "The Freaks With Kenny And Crash" radio show in Phoenix, Arizona that he thinks his position as the frontman of JUDAS PRIEST has opened the door in positivity for some. He explained: "That happened to me… I was away from PRIEST at the time, I was fronting a band called TWO with John 5, who's now with Rob Zombie. And [in 1998] I was doing an interview with MTV and talking about music and blah blah blah, and very off the cuff, I said, 'Speaking as a gay man in metal…', blah blah blah. Well, the guy dropped his clip, the producer, because it was big news at the time. In reflection, would I have said that while was in PRIEST?
"The thing about gay people is that until we come out of the closet, we're always protecting other people: 'I can't do this, because it's gonna hurt so-and-so,'" he continued. "We're trying to live the lives of other people, and that's the worst thing you can do. You've gotta learn to love yourself and live your own life. Then you can go out in the world and try and figure everything else out.
"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.' [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."
After the release of JUDAS PRIEST's 1990 album "Painkiller", Halford wanted to do a solo record, but the rest of the group wouldn't let him. So he left the band and did it anyway, while his bandmates continued without him. PRIEST recruited vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens in 1996 and released two studio albums, 1997's "Jugulator" and 2001's "Demolition", before reuniting with Rob in 2003.