Heavy metal fans are stereotypically seen as aggressively macho guys, but metal is also outsider's music, written and played to help cope with feelings of being different or ostracized. As openly gay Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford understands, those two things don't always easily mesh.

Halford offered his perspective on the metal community's evolution during a recent interview with Radio New Zealand (which you can listen to below), and while he's always maintained that the fans have been more than accepting of his lifestyle since he came out in 1998, he still understands that there's a long way to go.

"It's an alpha-male-dominated world," mused Halford, while noting that younger artists like Lzzy Hale of Halestorm and In This Moment's Maria Brink have helped push metal's boundaries while standing on the shoulders of Joan Jett and Lita Ford. "But it is — it's a bloke's world, for the most part, in heavy metal, and it's a straight world, to a great extent."

Counting himself lucky to have been around to witness what he called "some very slow progressions of acceptance" in the metal community, Halford again credited Judas Priest's fans for embracing him after coming out. "The most extraordinary thing was the fact that the fans went, 'Rob, we don't care about that side of you. We just wanna hear you sing, we wanna see Priest, we wanna see the show, hear the songs,'" he recalled. "That was a tremendous sign of tolerance and intelligence."

Halford also insisted again that, while it seemed like an ironic fashion choice, his studded leather garb wasn't motivated by his sexuality. "In the gay world, there's a section of our community that is very much involved in that side of things, but it never really crossed my mind, in all honesty," he said. "I've said this before: When I found all those early embellishments to find the visual side of Priest, the sexual connotations never entered my mind for a second, but later on, I saw the humor side of it, and definitely the irony."

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