In a brand new interview with the Edmonton Journal, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was asked if he was concerned he would lose his fanbase when he came out of the closet more than 20 years ago. He responded: "Oh yeah, absolutely, I was surrounded by homophobia, which still exists today. There are places I can't go back to because I'll be stoned to death. As far as that whole business, I discovered when I did come out that I was in this trap gay people find themselves living in that you're living your life for everyone else, but not yourself."
He continued: "During the '70s and '80s, it was incredibly difficult. I love PRIEST more than anything, so while always in my mind — I have to be careful how I say this — it's not important to the music. Though I will say, a straight man can't do my job. [Laughs] That's the way I view it. Freddie [Mercury] said it wasn't important, but if Freddie hadn't have been gay, QUEEN would've been a totally different band. But that's a really important part of my life that I have to get down on paper at some point."
Halford previously said that a straight man couldn't do his job in JUDAS PRIEST during a 2008 interview with The Dallas Morning News. The singer — who revealed he was homosexual during a 1998 appearance on MTV — explained why he believed that he was the only man capable of fronting PRIEST. "To be brutally honest, 'Jugulator' and 'Demolition' [the two PRIEST albums made with Tim 'Ripper' Owens as frontman] were affected by my not being in the band, much like when Bruce Dickinson went away from IRON MAIDEN, the way VAN HALEN [was] affected when David Lee Roth left. But I don't think a straight man can do my job in JUDAS PRIEST. I've never said that before. I'm sorry, but they can't."
Owens, who joined PRIEST in 1996 and recorded the aforementioned two studio albums with the band before PRIEST reunited with Halford in 2003, later responded to Rob's comment, telling BLABBERMOUTH.NET back in 2008: "Rob can be a funny dude. I feel like I did a good job in PRIEST and I'm straight. But Rob is a friend and the guys in PRIEST are all friends of mine. So, really, I will leave it at that... But, man, that was a pretty funny comment. [It] had to be taken out of context or the question [was] just asked in a strange way, 'cause Rob would not just say that... I'm still laughing though. That just brightened up my day."