Judas Priest's Rob Halford Reflects On Coming Out

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Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford says the heavy metal community has evolved since 1998, when he publicly came out as gay.

“Today, everybody knows a gay person, and there is a lot more acceptance and tolerance,” he told Variety, “but it’s still not 100 percent where it needs to be.”

Halford said his bandmates, management and label knew about his sexuality but concerns were shared about the impact on the band if he came out.

In an interview with NME, Halford said he hopes he was able to be a role model.

“As a pre-teen, the only friend you’ve got is your music because you hate your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, school and everybody else in the world, but you love your music and look towards it to find a reference,” he explained. “There are so many openly out musicians in all forms of music that now for some people, at that point in their life, they don’t feel so alone.”

Halford is busy promoting his memoir Confess, out on Sept. 29. In the book, written with Ian Gittins, the 69-year-old rocker reflected on the moment he came out during an appearance on MTV.

“I no longer had to pretend, to conceal, to hide. I could finally be me,” he wrote. “I had confessed. And it felt f**king great. 

“For so many years, I’d imagined that coming out would lead to an outpouring of disgust, end my career, and kill Judas Priest. Now . . . the exact opposite happened. I started to get letters from people all over the world … People wrote thanking me for coming out and giving them hope and inspiration.”

Halford added: “A tiny, tiny minority of religious fanatics wrote me letters saying they would never listen to my music again—and that I would burn in hell. But, do you know what? I didn’t think I would miss those people too much!”

Halford also got candid in Confess about a sexual assault he suffered as a child at the hands of one of his father’s friends.

“At the time, it was terribly confusing and couldn’t have happened at a worse time, for me as a young guy that was already dealing with trying to figure things out,” he told Variety. “Talking about it now, I can feel the horror and being totally frightened and wanting to run away, but at the same time feeling, ‘Now this is affection, in a very crude brutal manner.' It was incredibly, incredibly complex. You can only imagine for a young man, dealing with that type of assault.”

Halford told NME: “When you go through abuse, you’re in a bad place. For some unknown reason, you feel guilty. You feel like it was your fault, even though it never was. You feel like you can’t speak to anybody about it. Even in today’s world, it’s taboo. You’re basically being attacked by a predator. I’m just lucky in that somehow I had the resilience and strength to get through it.”

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