In honor of Pride month, Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford spoke with Hattie Collins of Apple Music 1's PROUD RADIO about his coming out story, his brief stint on Grindr, meeting Freddie Mercury at a club in Athens and many other topics related to his identity as a gay man.
"It was beautiful," the 69-year-old metal icon said of the moment he went public about his sexuality. "It was very unplanned. It was one of those things where I'm at MTV in New York, I'm talking about a project that I was working on called Two, with myself and John 5, the amazing guitar player. And in the casual course of the conversation, we were talking about the overall music, and the direction, and the feelings. And I said something to the effect of, 'Well, speaking as a gay man, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' And then I heard the producer's clipboard bounce on the floor. It was one of those gay sharp intakes, 'Oh my God, he's come out.' And so that was it."
He continued, "So there I was, and I did the interview, and then I walked back to the hotel, and went back to my room, and [went], 'Well, that's it, now everybody knows.' And then, of course, it hit the news wires and that was that. So wow, it was just this enormous feeling of freedom, and the pressure was gone, and there's no more talking behind your back because you have all this ammunition of power as a gay person now, as an out gay person. Nothing can hurt you because this is it. You can't throw insults, you can't throw rumors, you can't say anything negative about me because I am who I am."
Halford also reiterated his love for Lady Gaga — a pop star with a large LGBTQ following and a proclivity for metal — and shared how desperately he wants to work with her. "It is weird because the only two women I ever dream about [are] Lady Gaga or Madonna," he said. "I think it's such a wish that I have that I'd love to work with either of those incredible people, but Gaga especially just because she's so expressive in everything that she does. Maybe one day it'll happen. I don't know. Even if I just go la la la, that'll do for me."
Later, Collins used the 1980 Judas Priest song, "Grinder," as a springboard to ask if Halford himself has ever used the popular gay dating app, Grindr. "I did get that app for about five minutes," Halford revealed. "I was in a hotel somewhere, put it on, and it was like ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, ping. I thought 'Oh, what is wrong with this?' It was too much drama and I had to delete it right away, and it's been deleted ever since, by the way."
Halford also reminisced about the time he met fellow LGBTQ rock icon, Freddie Mercury, at a gay club in Mykonos — long before Halford had publicly come out. "I went into this bar, which was pretty small, and it was absolutely rammed, and they were blasting music," he remembered. "And I'm there with a couple of mates, I'm having a few drinks, and there in the corner, with his posse, is Fred. And I'm like, 'My God, it's Freddie Mercury.' And he acknowledges me."
He continued, "You know what it's like when you're in a club, it's like fighting against the tide, you just can't get there because there's people dancing and there's pushing around. So we were just waving and, 'How you doing? Good to see you. Call me,' that kind of thing. That's about as close as I got to meeting that glorious icon."
Toward the end of the conversation, Collins asked Halford to explain how he met his partner of 25 years, Thomas, which stemmed from a personals ad in the back of a gay Magazine. "It said something like active duty Marine seeks fellow active duty Marines for good times," Halford remembered. "Well, you see, the thing about me, Hattie, is I love a man in uniform."
"So I wrote to this guy, never thought that anything would come of it, but I get a letter back and I do the full on thing," he continued. "'I'm Rob Halford, I'm a singer for blah, blah, blah.' It was terribly self-inflated, bloated blah, blah, blah, because I'd hardly had any relationships in my life up until Thomas. He's a highly decorated veteran, he's done work in Iraq and Somalia, loads of medals. So I meet him eventually in Oceanside in California, he brought a buddy along because who knew. And we met and we had some dinner. We eventually got to live together here in Phoenix, around 1993, 1994, I think it was. So we've been in each other's lives now for 25 years or more."
After explaining their origin story, Collins asked him if there are any songs that remind him of Thomas, and Halford gave the most metal answer possible: Slayer's "Raining Blood."
"Yeah, or 'Angel of Death' by Slayer. Because he's a massive, massive ... even now he's a massive Slayer fan. Marines then, and now, they love their heavy, hard music. And when I met Thomas, he was just full on crazy for Slayer. When I introduced him to the guys in Slayer, he was like how some girls must've felt when they met Liam from One Direction, or Harry from One Direction."
Check out a clip of the interview of above via YouTube, which features many more anecdotes from one of the most important metal figures of all time.