Country music has been accused of closing its borders to more progressive ideas and artists who embody these ideals. Mostly, the country genre is known to have strong conservative values about what a family should be or how a person should act.
However, there are also standout artists that are both members of the LGBTQ+ community and who are strong allies. Country music is starting to become more open, and more progressive, and although the traditional fans may not be as open, newer fans are more open and are continuing to join the fold.
These queer country artists not only give fans their voice in the community but also let fans know that they belong in any gender or ideology can be a fan of country music. Let’s take a deep dive into some of the artists who are proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Queer Country Artists
Composed of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, the Indigo Girls have been around singing about their experiences as women and as lesbians in Atlanta since 1985. With fourteen studio albums under their belt, including three Platinum sellers, they still continue to play and do shows, sharing music with everyone.
In an interview, they share that their writing process is all about discipline and that they are more inclined to write about things that they are trying to understand. Especially, given the political climate, they don’t run out of things to say, or an audience to hear it. Ray and Saliers engage in society this way, in a way part of how they were taught to live. The duo recognizes the many advantages the digital age has brought their independent career that spanned for more than 30 years.
Fresh from her Grammy-winning album, By The Way, I Forgive You, Brandi Carlile has been turning heads and making waves with successful projects. At first, she was a highly underrated Americana artist, before her breakthrough with her Grammy-winning album. With her powerful voice and sharp lyrics, she does very good at delivering messages with raw emotion and grace.
Her current project has her collaborating with three more powerhouse women to form a country supergroup called The Highwomen. These four women blend together their prowess and their grace to produce amazing country music.
Trixie Mattel is not only known as the winner of the reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3, but she is also a bona fide country artist. Mattel proves to the world that she is not only talented in the art of drag, but music flows freely in her veins.
She made her musical debut back in 2017 with her smash hit album Two Birds, which showed her vast knowledge of the country genre, as well as her repertoire of country and folk roots. Her follow-up album, aptly named One Stone also stays true to her folk-country roots that were established when she was growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Although the art of drag certainly isn’t always associated with anything country, Mattel proved the naysayers otherwise. She has put on shows and performances that wowed millions and placed country music just a tad bit closer to everyone. She breaks the barriers and so-called rules of both the art of drag and country music.
Amythyst Kiah is known as a “Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter.” She solidifies herself as an innovative voice in a crowded place of tradition. She is known for laying down thumping bass lines and acoustic croonings.
She describes her vibe of vocal integrity that unites her varied influences, which include an array of artists such as Dolly Parton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Florence and the Machine.
Her uniqueness is what makes her stand out from the crowd, and she has recently played in the Newport Festival. Her experiences are what shaped most of her songs and her personality seeps through her music. The indigenous roots of country blues and gospel are well-seen in her singing.
Owning the title the “World’s First Gay Country Band,” founder Patrick Haggerty, now 75, never would expect that people would know his name or his band at all. They are considered as “the original queer country trailblazer.” When the band released their self-titled album back in 1973, it is still considered as the first gay country record ever.
One of the best songs, of which Haggerty claimed to have made himself “untouchable,” is a stand-out song that is the ballad called “Crying These Cocksucking Tears.” Although, one of his biggest “pangs” was that Lavender Country wasn’t heard as much as it could have.
He said he had lived without regret, spending the majority of his life dedicating it to activism and things that he is passionate about. Haggerty has fought for movements from black liberation, to gay rights, to socialist, radical politics.
In recent times, he has found his way back to country music by playing covers for Alzheimer’s patients at senior centers. He is married to his husband for more than 31 years. The re-issue of this winning record, as well as the release of a brand new documentary, has connected him and Lavender Country to a whole new generation of fans.
It could be said that McAnally is one of the most trusted and successful songwriters and producers in Nashville. He has penned dozens upon dozens of songs for top-tier country artists and has won multiple accolades for his work. He is closely associated with A-rated stars such as Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Walker Hayes, Lady Antebellum, and the Band Perry.
McAnally has said that one of the things that affect his work is his authenticity with himself, which reflects his lyrics. At first, he was very nervous having other people finding out that he was gay, and he was afraid that nobody would record his songs because of his sexuality. However, that seemed to change when slowly but surely he started coming out and was met with welcoming responses
In the years since he has won three Grammy Awards and has penned over 40 number 1 hits. He and his partner, Michael Baum, got married in 2017. They now have two beautiful children together.