“When you’re a public figure … things start to pile up on you, out of your control,” the singer explained during an interview of the In the Trenches with Ryan Roxie podcast. “You’re carrying this load of obsessions and expectations from other people. And you don’t want to let other people down.”
As such, Halford, who admitted he personally accepted his homosexuality from on early age, feared that going public early in Judas Priest’s career would hurt the band.
“My self-imposed dilemma was, if I was to come out publicly as a gay man, at this point in the career of Priest, it could result in irreparable damage,” the singer explained.
Looking back, the rocker believes that his viewpoint was likely skewed by his surroundings. “I was born and raised in a time when not only my own country but around the world, gay people were vilified,” Halford noted. “We were called abnormal. We were called freaks. So you build all that into the equation and sure you’re gonna be messed up. You’re gonna have a very, very difficult time trying to ascertain what is the best thing to do, not only for yourself, but for your bandmates, and your record label, and primarily your fans.”
It wouldn’t be until 1998 that Halford publicly revealed his homosexuality, unexpectedly announcing it during an MTV interview. “Of course, as it turned out, in the moment that I came out, the uncertainty that I had floating in my head evaporated,” the rocker recalled. “Because a lot of people went, ‘Duh, dude. We already knew,’ to ‘Hey man, this is great. Live your life like you should. We don’t care. It’s all about the music, it’s all about the show.”
Halford’s autobiography, Confess, was released in 2020, detailing the rocker’s personal life, as well as his highs and lows in Judas Priest. The band is currently prepping a new album, the follow up to 2018’s Firepower.