Ben Sixsmith:

I use celebrities only as an example of a depressing fact about human beings. We refer to “f*ck you money” as being that mystical point at which one is rich enough to achieve blissful independence from the presumptuous demands of bosses, clients or critics. But almost no one achieves it. People with tens of millions of pounds in the bank want to get tens of millions more. People at the top of their professions have no wish to lose their exalted spots. There is no point at which desire lets conscience reign supreme.

Our library reopened to the public for the first time in a year. (Speaking of which, the hospital is the only place that still requires masks; everything else is getting back to normal — even in Charlottesville, a city so progressive it elects mayors like this, freedom is ringing.) I went in and looked over the new nonfiction releases, where I saw Confess, the autobiography of Judas Priest singer Rob Halford. I’m always up for reading a yarn about the glory days of classic Brih’ish ‘eavy meh’ul, so I checked it out.

Halford was one of the first metal icons to come out of the closet, in 1998, when it took some actual courage as a public figure to do so, unlike today, when publicly identifying as someone in need of attention is just something you do concurrently with the announcement of your new book/podcast/TV show/clothing line. It’s poignant to be reminded how even a rich celebrity could live in fear and frustration, terrified of being exposed, even before the all-seeing Eye of the Internet. The more money they made, the more records they sold, the more arenas they packed, the more Halford feared what the exposure of his homosexuality would do, not only to him, but to his bandmates. It wouldn’t be fair to them, he thought, to jeopardize their hard-earned careers, just so that he could fully express himself. And so he stayed in the closet out of loyalty to others.

If money were all people cared about, then it would be much easier to have a “fuck-you” amount of it. Ironically, that point will never be reached because even rich celebrities care about some things — status, love, and other soft vulnerabilities — more than riches.