In the Beginning — The 1950s
How is it that I wrote the first gay country album in 1973? The answer is short… my dad said I could. My dad, a dairy farmer with ten kids, in redneck land in 1955, in his dung spattered brown overalls and clodhopper boots; that dad said I could. He helped me weave a blond bailing twine wig, put up with Tinker Bell outfits, and drove me in full drag to talent shows when I was 13. Over and over again in a hundred different ways, he told me not to sneak; he said it would ruin my immortal soul. Yes, that dad, who never laid a hand to me, pointed out the way so adroitly with the grace of a ballerina. I never knew he was the Saint of Dry Creek in a sea of racism, sexism and homophobia. All I knew was he was a dad who loved his kid.
“So of course I wrote the first gay country album. Don’t you think I owed him that?” -Patrick Haggerty
After Stonewall — The 1970s
Lavender Country was a community effort for sure. By us, from us, for us; the Stonewall Rebellion crowd. Seattle’s out of the closet LGBTQ folks were on the move, doing all manner of bold, creative projects in 1973. Lavender Country was one of them. The community raised the money for the studio, promoted and distributed the bootleg album through a post office box and came to our shows… and yes, I wrote and sang the songs, except for Eve’s song.
We knew gay country was absurd for mass distribution, and that was our saving grace. It allowed us to pour our hurt and angry hearts out without compromise to any agent, label, or music exec. They weren’t going to bite on gay country no matter what we said. The door was slammed shut for years for gay country, but we didn’t care. We were pissed off, so we made our statement.
Life Goes On — Forty Long Years
After a few years of touring and gigs at LGBTQ benefits, festivals and other events, the band disbanded; the album was forgotten for decades. I put my hurt in a box and walked into the rest of my life. So what, big deal. Lots of artists, and especially country music performers, are never recognized and remained unsung, especially those who had political messages to share. I told myself to quit belly aching.
I had a life, I raised two children with wonderful mothers. I joined a couple of socialist organizations, engaged in the Seattle radical political scene, ran for office, got sick and got well again. I married into a huge Black family from Philly, and started singing to elders and Alzheimer’s patients. I had a big, interesting, active, wonderful life without Lavender Country and I was fine with it.