During a 1998 interview with MTV, Halford addressed the subject of his sexuality publicly for the first time, telling the music channel: “I think that most people know that I’ve been a gay man all of my life, and that it’s only been in recent times that it’s an issue that I feel comfortable to address, and an issue that has been with me ever since recognizing my own sexuality.”
When Noisey‘s Kim Kelly pointed out to Halford that his outspokenness about his sexual orientation has been really important and helpful for a lot of heavy metal kids, especially now when things still don’t seem like they are that much better than they were in the ’80s or the ’90s, the singer said: “When you’re a musician, one of the things that comes to you in the beginning that is quite unexpected is the reaction from your fans, and to the way your music plays an important part in their life, in figuring things out. That’s what happened to me. The moment I came out as a gay man, I never really thought of the consequences. Of course, the proverbial happened, it hits the newswires and it’s this big, big thing. As a result of that, you then get these beautiful messages back from your fans around the world saying that because you’re able to step forward and proclaim your sexuality in a strong way, in a proud way, that that’s helped them in life, and you go, ‘Wow.’ So as a gay guy in metal, I welcome this opportunity to reinforce that statement.”
He continued: “These [are] difficult times for a lot of us. In this matter of sexuality, you’ve got to be able to talk. When the terrible scourge of the AIDS epidemic hit the world, up until that point, the gay community didn’t really have much of a strong voice. There was an organization in London called ACT UP [who] were very vocal. They went storming into Parliament, held these big demonstrations, and had a simple slogan— ‘silence equals death.’ That simple statement was very profound.
“The battle goes on for me; as a gay man,” he added. “I shall not be happy until I see equality across the board. That’s vital. I don’t think it’s right that there’s one set of rules for one individual and another set of rules and laws for another individual. That’s not the way the world should work.”
In a 2017 interview with Fox Sports 910 AM‘s “The Freaks With Kenny And Crash”, Halford said that he felt exasperated 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.
He said: “I just get so frustrated and I get angry that here we are in 2017… I mean, growing up as a kid and suddenly realizing about my preferences… Well, it’s not really a preference — it’s who you are. You don’t make a choice. I am who I am. And because of the society that I grew up in, and to a still great extent today, we have this tremendous pushback in equality.
“I always kind of felt, as I was going through my teen years and my twenties and thirties, things would be better, but they’re not,” he continued. “There’s still a long way to go in America, and in my home country. And in some parts of the world, people like me get thrown off buildings, people like me get hung, just because of who we are. So the injustices that are put against gay people, much like the injustices against people of color, or people that have tremendous difficulties with accepting religions…”
Halford added: “It’s a crazy world, isn’t it? You’d think that by now we’d have just figured things out and live and let live and love each other and just accept each other for who we are. Life is short.”
JUDAS PRIEST‘s latest album, “Firepower”, was released on March 9 via Epic.