GAY SAN DIEGO December 17-30, 2010
Heavy metal legend Rob Halford talks about coming out, his new CD and upcoming San Diego show
Bianca Waxlax|SDGLN Correspondent
Few vocalists in the world of heavy metal have been as influ- ential and as epic as Rob Halford. With his legendary band Judas Priest, Halford produced nearly 20 albums and won a Grammy Award in 2010. His voice is un- paralleled in his field and, like the late Freddie Mercury (see page 16), can reach four octaves. The mind-blowing front man with con- siderable stage magnetism has been going strong for 30 years. Halford, a longtime San Diego resident, has been openly gay for the past 12 years.
Speaking with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Halford dis- cussed about being out in the gay community, offering a glimpse into his experiences with “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” while sharing heartfelt wisdom with other gay artists such as Adam Lambert.
SDGLN: Do you enjoy liv- ing here?
Halford: Yeah, I love it very much. I’m in the Balboa Park area, so Hillcrest is my neighbor- hood. It has been for a long, long time. With the upcoming show at 4th and B happening soon, it’s going to be something really exciting.
SDGLN: You came out as gay in 1998 on MTV. How have things changed since then?
Halford: Musically, they have not changed at all. On a personal level it has changed dramatically. It’s like when any of us step out of that closet and we set ourselves
Halford: I think that what I
was probably trying to say was that because I was away from the main band that was filling my life (Judas Priest), because I was always protecting Judas Priest, protecting the music, protecting the fans, protecting everybody except myself, I wasn’t able to say and do the things that I wanted to do until I was away and having these other musical adventures. … I probably would have not made the announcement had I been in Judas Priest at that time. … When you become protec- tive of everybody else, you don’t protect your own needs. Things happen in life for a reason, and that was the case with my coming out at that time.
Halford: The vast majority of them did, yes. Those that didn’t were the ones that have difficulty accepting people’s sexual orienta- tion in general. I think I made some people confront issues they were not ready to deal with perhaps.
SDGLN: Some fans that completely idolized you had to come to terms with their metal role model and idol being a gay man. How do you feel this affected them?
Halford: I think that it kind of demystifies this issue of mas- culinity. To say that if you are masculine you can’t be gay is ri- diculous. Again, I can’t really say.
Rob Halford and his band
Halford IV WHEN: 8 p.m. Dec. 18 (doors open at 7 p.m.) WHERE: 4th and B, 345 B St. in San Diego COST: $41.40 to $67.30 INFO: Ticketmaster.com
free—there is a tremendous feeling of elation. You can be who you are without having to hide, without having to lie, and it makes you stronger and more complete as a person. … It really was the best thing to do.
SDGLN: When you came out, you were working on mu- sic with your band at the time, Two. You had been working with Trent Reznor. I heard in an interview where someone stated that it was easier for you to come out in the indus- trial music scene, as people were more accepting.
There are areas of music that
are more compassionate, more tolerant, more open, more accept- ing and more aware. What I think I have done is destroy the myth that heavy metal bands don’t have that capacity. It’s a different world now. Heavy metal now is a com- pletely different world compared to heavy metal in 1980. The gay and lesbian world is very differ- ent now (than) it was in 1980. We have all grown to some extent.
SDGLN: Do you feel that your heterosexual fans received you well when you came out?
That is a question you would have to ask my fans. ... But, the vast majority of them were complete- ly accepting of me, and it was tremendously powerful.
SDGLN: Being a
legendary metal front man, when most people think of metal and rock music they think, “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” How did this expec- tation or stereotype play out for you as a gay man?
Halford: I had the drugs and
the rock ‘n’ roll, but I was not having the sex. That is how it worked out for me. (laughs)
SDGLN: Did you feel like you had any pressure, from groupies com- ing around, and did other men in the bands wonder why you weren’t hooking up?
Halford: Everybody in the band knew I was a gay man, and everybody in my crew knew I was a gay man, and those were the people that I associated with on a working level. So, those questions never really arose.
SDGLN: It seems to me that your rock ‘n’ roll style is very reminiscent of the leather community. Can you shed some light on that?
Halford: Yeah, that is the
irony, if you want to call it ironic, that there is a portion of the gay and lesbian community that lives that type of lifestyle, and I never was. I never was into that leather lifestyle. I just chose that kind of look because heavy metal for many, many years didn’t really have the visual connections. So, I just kind of experimented and felt that particular image was more sensible and worked. … But there I was, you know, and sud- denly some straight people were saying, “We should have got that all along, because look at what he’s dressed like.” I think that is very insulting and very narrow- minded. But that is all just part of the equation, of who I am and what I do.
SDGLN: You introduced Adam Lambert at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Halford: I think Adam is a sensational singer and performer and entertainer. He’s got a long, long life ahead of him in show business. It was a great feeling. We don’t know each other, but we know a little bit about each other as far as what we feel we have tried to do within the gay community. So, it was like on the red carpet, the old god meeting the new god. The paparazzi went completely crazy.♚
To read this interview in its
entirety, visit our media partner, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, at sdgln.com
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