World’s First Gay Country Musician Finds Hope While Touring The Heartland

Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina. Over the past year, Patrick Haggerty ― frontman of Lavender Country, the first band to perform openly gay country music ― has been gallivanting across Trump country.

The band’s most popular song, “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears,” might make those who voted for the new president-elect uncomfortable. It’s a bluntly sung story about the pain of living as a gay man in America in the early 1970s. The song was first written and recorded in Seattle, Washington, where Haggerty lived at the time.

This doesn’t dissuade Haggerty from spreading his message across America’s landlocked states. In an interview with The Huffington Post, he said, “The progressive communities in the heartland are so welcoming, so loving, so tightly knit, so committed, so inspiring. It’s really a delight to see that aspect of what’s happening.” He’s alluding to the results of 2016’s election, which blindsided many progressives, himself included.

Read more on The Huffington Post

Uncovering the first gay country album

When Patrick Haggerty made the first openly gay country album in 1973, it wasn’t exactly a good career move. “It was an absolutely radical act,” he says. “I wasn’t interested in a career in music. I was born to kick open the closet door.”

That album, the eponymously named Lavender Country, recorded by the band Haggerty founded with Michael Carr, Eve Morris, and Robert Hammerstrom, is now being reissued by the North Carolina–based Paradise of Bachelors, a label with a mission to highlight “under-recognized musics of the American vernacular.”

Musics don’t come much more under-recognized than gay country, and Lavender Country’s album is even more remarkable for its lyrical forthrightness. Songs such as “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears,” “Back in the Closet Again,” and “Come Out Singing” (sample lyric: “There’s milk and money flowing / When you’re blowing Gabriel’s horn”) were never likely to be played at the Grand Ole Opry, but they also weren’t camp attempts at the genre. Haggerty’s love of country music was absolutely sincere, as was his view that the songs offered a way to get what he called the “Information” — the shared experience of what it meant to be gay in the years after Stonewall — out to an audience that was starved of it.

Read more at Out Magazine

CMT Artists: Lavender Country

While Lavender Country were little known outside the Pacific Northwest and only released one self-distributed album, in their time they created a genuine cultural milestone — the first collection of openly gay-themed country songs. Lavender Country were the brainchild of Patrick Haggerty, who was born and raised in Dry Creek, a small rural community near Port Angeles, Washington, where his parents were tenant dairy farmers. While Haggerty’s family was always short on money (in part because he had nine siblings), when he was nine his father gave him a $25 guitar, and Patrick taught himself to play. Haggerty grew up listening to country music on the radio, and was particularly fond of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Eddy Arnold; when he was a teenager and the folk revival of the late ’50s and early ’60s swept the nation, Haggerty began performing folk songs at coffeehouses and talent shows. From an early age, Haggerty knew he was gay and made little secret of it; his father, remarkably understanding given the time and place, told his son, “Don’t sneak…if you spend your life sneaking, it means you think you’re doing the wrong thing…so whoever you run around with, don’t sneak and be proud of it.” As a consequence, Haggerty struggled to be open with his homosexuality at a time when it was not accepted, and after graduating from college, he joined the Peace Corps in 1966, only to be kicked out when his sexuality became known (Haggerty had switched rooms at a dormitory in India when he admitted to his first roommate that he was attracted to him and found it too distracting).

Read more at CMT.com

Gay History: Lavender Country

Another Pacific Northwest first: Patrick Haggerty, well-known political activist, Gay liberationist, fabric artist, musician, and songwriter for the earliest openly Gay L.P, Lavender Country, was recently archived in the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame. Chris Dickenson, editor of the Journal of Country Music, took it upon herself to investigate Gay people in country music and describes Patrick as the lost pioneer of Gay country music.

Patrick Haggerty said, “I grew up on a farm in Dry Creek, Washington. My childhood was completely overwrought with farm responsibilities that prevented development of my musical talents, so my early, 1950s musical training was listening to KOMP radio that played country music, Grange Hall dance music, and lots of Yankovich polkas. Fortunately, my grade-school principal Mrs. Thomas, who played the violin, put together a classical orchestra in our small school and gave classical concerts. I played the trumpet but I am not the trumpet type; I preferred the violin.

“When I was 18, I started on the ukulele. Then a friend of mine bought me a tenor guitar so I could do rhythm to his guitar lead. He couldn’t sing and I could, so I turned into a kind of folk singer. It was the beginning of the folk song and coffeehouse days, so we played them all.

Read more at Seattle Gay News

First Openly Gay Country Band to Play Hopscotch

In what appears to be a response to the state’s controversial House Bill 2, Hopscotch announced Wednesday that Lavender Country, the first openly gay country band, will play the music festival this fall.

Lavender Country will play a rare show at Fletcher Opera Theater on Saturday, Sept. 10. It will be the band’s first concert in North Carolina.

The band released what is considered to be the first openly gay country music album in 1973, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The album fought back against homophobia with tracks like “Back in the Closet Again.” It struggled for airplay and one Seattle DJ even had her FCC license revoked for playing one of its tracks.

Read more at WRAL