Masculinity of the Month: Rob Halford
I’m going to try to start a new thing here, a somewhat regular (monthly I reckon), post on a particular persons masculinity I really like. It might be an in-depth look, or just a snapshot. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.
…So, to kick us off, I’m going to go with Rob Halford, the veteran lead singer of veteran heavy metal band Judas Priest (‘cos I’m a sucker for a leatherman)
Here he is, In all his leathery goodness.
A quick bit of back story, Judas Priest, the band for which Halford is most well-known for his involvement with, has been around since the 70’s and is a well-known and respected elder statesman of heavy metal music. They are still working and touring (I had the great pleasure of seeing them last year). In the late 90’s Halford stepped out of the heavy metal closet to Advocate magazine.
I find this intersection of metal and sexuality interesting, as someone with what I would say a casual relationship and appreciation of metal music, as a genre it’s stereotypically aggressively heterosexual, if not explicitly homophobic. Certainly I would say the genre as a whole was overtly masculine and often misogynist. Now I’m not going to go so far as to say that the prominence Halford in the mainstream heavy metal scene for so long is representative of some broader acceptance of homosexuality, by all accounts (by which I mean – The Internet) Halford’s sexuality was something of an open secret. But I really don’t know enough about Mr Halford, his sexuality, or the world heavy metal to make those sort of grand sweeping statements.
But I do see some interesting similarities in performance and representation; the theatricality and the ‘campness’ of a lot of metal, and certainly Judas Priest. I like that (to me & I imagine others) the association of heavy metal and homosexuality is one not oft or easily made, and I really like that Mr Halford somewhat problematises both those neat little identity categories.
So Rob Halford’s masculinity, as I’ve seen it represented through music, presentation and performance: With its mix of aggression, flamboyance and macho posturing, and especially the way in he adds challenges traditional representations of heavy metal culture mean he’s my pick for the first ‘Masculinity of the Month’.