That Time Rob Halford Joined Queercore Band Pansy Division at Pride Event Before Coming Out
In July of 1997, Rob Halford, who exited Judas Priest earlier in the decade, performed "Breaking the Law" onstage with queercore icons Pansy Division at a San Diego Pride event less than a year before he officially came out as gay in an MTV interview.
At this point in his career, the 'Metal God' had recently abandoned his post-Priest groove metal band, Fight, who had released two albums, War of Words (1993) and A Small Deadly Space (1995). Work lied ahead on Voyeurs, the one-and-done record under the 2wo moniker, for which Halford worked with guitarist John 5 while Nine Inch Nails mainman Trent Reznor helmed the production.
Having yet come out as a gay man, Halford had alluded to this identity directly on the Judas Priest song "Raw Deal." Other songs possessed sexually-charged lyrics that were more ambiguous, though not written with any underlying intent to further divulging his sexuality.
Pansy Division, however, were formed in 1991 in San Francisco, California, as an openly gay rock band who specialized in power pop/pop punk/alternative music. Their lyrics were mostly positive and often humorous and the band even supported Green Day on their Dookie tour.
"I met the band at San Diego Pride. I had read about them and heard some of their music via the gay grapevine," Halford told Loudwire about his initial connection with the group. "If my memory serves correctly, Chris [Freeman, founding bassist and co-vocalist] reached out, and we hit it off right away."
During the cover of the iconic song off Judas Priest's breakthrough 1980 album British Steel, Pansy Division altered the lyrics to the chorus, instead singing, "Breaking the law / The sodomy law" in an apparent reference to the suspicion of some that the song was written as a deceptive rebel anthem regarding the U.K. laws against sodomy at the time the song was released.
"Being onstage with the guys felt great. No pressure, all fun," added Halford, who wasn't concerned about the idea of being a closeted musician onstage at the Pride event. "Nothing was on on in my mind besides having a blast with the band," the singer, who appeared in street clothes instead of his signature studded leather apparel, affirmed, "although I did feel liberated and proud afterward."
Watch the performance clip directly below.
Each year in the U.S., June marks Pride Month, a weeks-long celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community through various events across the country to recognize diversity and promote acceptance and tolerance of those within the community, as well as bring awareness to issues regarding inequality.
Rob Halford Joins Pansy Division Onstage at San Diego Pride Event — July, 1997
28 LGBTQIA+ Icons in Rock + Metal