When Judas Priest played in St. Petersburg in 2012, the metal band was told to keep quiet about anything gay while on stage, says its gay lead singer in a new interview.
Out musician Rob Halford told British music magazine, Mojo, in its November issue that, "When we played in Saint Petersburg recently, the mayor's office told us not to make any references to gay rights. But I wouldn't have wanted to do that anyway. I'm not an activist, but just me standing on that stage in that very homophobic place was a victory. I didn't have to go on waving a rainbow banner. I am the rainbow flag of metal. I consider it a triumph, just the fact of us playing there."
Performers in Russia have handled the country's so-called "gay propaganda" law in different ways. Officials failed in their attempts to prosecute both Madonna and bisexual pop star Lady Gaga for using their concerts to rally for LGBT equality, and both later saw their visas challenged. Gaga has basically dared Russian authorities to arrest her.
While on stage in Russia, out singer Elton John condemned the law and explained his decision to perform in Moscow in December 2013 this way: "You took me to your hearts all these years ago and you've always welcomed me with warmth and open arms any time I've visited," said John from the stage, according to a transcript posted by gay blogger Joe Jervis. "You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. People have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people asked me to come and I listened to them. I love coming here."