Saturday, July 09, 2005

Halford on Fresh Air (or Heavy Metal is no longer homophobic):

Check out this great interview with Rob Halford of Judas Priest on Terry Gross's Fresh Air.

Halford discusses what it's like to be an openly gay heavy metal god. Metal is one of the many different forms of rock which I enjoy (like all forms of rock -- when it's good, which often it's not). Growing up in the 80's and 90's and having friends in the "heavy metal" crowd, I can attest that it was quite homophobic. I'm not sure if it is anymore. Not only are Judas Priest one of the most important metal acts, but they also are "Ozzfest" regulars, and Halford has even stepped in and as the frontman for Black Sabbath -- the most important metal band -- on two occasions: once in the early 90's while he was still in the closet, but also last year at Ozzfest in Philadelphia (which alas, I missed).

Both the fans and the metal artists, as far as I know, embrace or otherwise accept and tolerate Halford as an openly gay frontman of one of metal's most important bands.

Even though he didn't come out until the late 90's, Halford's homosexuality was one of the worst kept secrets in metal history. Part of that reason is that Halford's appearance fits a gay stereotype. Actually he fits two stereotypes.

Anyone familiar with metal knows that there is a Biker subculture attached to it, exemplified by the Hell's Angels and other lesser known biker groups. There is also a leather/biker subculture within the gay community. And those two archetypes -- the "metal/biker" and "gay/leather" -- converged in one man: Rob Halford (see pics).

Anyway Priest has some great metal tunes. And their latest release, Angel of Retribution has some kick-ass tunes (Click and then launch Metal God Jukebox to hear "Judas is Rising," the first tune off of their newest release).


CPT_Doom said...

Unexpected post there Jonathan, but you are totally right - Halford was one of the worst-kept secrets, and I have always loved the way he publicly came out. There was no big announcement, he simply and honestly answered a journalist's question on who he'd like to sleep with, and named a man.

I also find it incredibly ironic that Halford created the heavy metal "look" that is copied by nearly every hard/heavy/death metal band out there, and he is open about using the gay leather community as an inspiration for it. Halford was not in that scene, however, he just thought it was the perfect look to go with the sound of Judas Priest.

So now we have these (potentially) homophobic band members dressing up in ways that echo, if not completely copy, a stereotypical gay leatherman.

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?

Jonathan said...


Although, I'm sure some heteros might argue that the look originated with them -- the bikers, etc. -- and that the gay leather community "borrowed" it from them.

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