Apparently, a short haircut and vaguely suggestive lyrics can only mean two things: you're Katy Perry or you're a lesbian. So, Sugarland country singer Jennifer Nettles finally addressed the gay rumors swirling around her today (despite that fact that she's currently married to a man). Nettles said she's not gay, but she didn't want to dispel the rumors earlier out of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
I had such a strong lesbian following, and in the gay community as a whole, I've always had so much support from them. I think a lot of people assumed, too. Whenever they heard a woman with an alto voice playing an acoustic instrument stylistically reminiscent of those wonderful icons you counted, Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls - and especially with the audience I had in my 20s - I think a lot of people just assumed that (I was lesbian). So those lyrics - "crotch propaganda / bat for both teams / and it's me not choosing sides standing in between" - I definitely related to because it's like, who cares? Why choose sides? And why do you have to?
Nettles' attitude shows the fast-changing nature of country music — many country stars, from Toby Keith to Carrie Underwood, have come out in support of gay marriage in the past few years. Although country music has a lot of the problems with homophobia and portrayals of masculinity that plague hip hop, it doesn't have quite as many visible LGBTQ stars. But here are the few country singers who singers who are out and proud...
Everyone seems to have forgotten that k.d. lang actually started out as a country singer — she even won two country Grammy's. She may have gone pop in the '90s and never looked back, but she was still a pioneer for lesbian country stars.
Steve Grand made quite a splash this summer when he released his video for the quintessential country summer love song: there was whiskey, there was summer nights, there was the Fourth of July, there was America. Oh yeah, and the love interest was an "All-American Boy." Grand has been through a lot and was even sent to "straight camp" by his parents, so it'll be interesting to see where he goes next.
Shane McAnally had a short-lived country music career in the late '90s and early 2000's. He may not still be recording any more albums, but he's still doing pretty well for himself in the world of country music: he writes songs for country stars like Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan, and he wrote and produced most of the songs on Kasey Musgrave's critically acclaimed album Same Trailer, Different Park. But check out his ferociously '90s video for "Say Anything" to relive his days in the spotlight:
Much like McAnally, Wright has both recorded her own material as well a written for other country stars. Wright was a pretty big name in pop country in the late '90s and early 2000's, but she's since split off from major labels. She came out in 2010 in People, and is one of the few country stars to have come out so publicly since k.d. lang.
Many of these country singers boast being the first openly gay country musician. But that title actually goes to Lavender Country, a country band who consisted almost exclusively of gay musicians. Their debut 1973 album is brazenly political, and boasts classic lyrics "There's nothin' left but holes/In your weary sexist roles." The album portrays singer Patrick Haggerty's harsh experiences growing up as a gay man in rural Washington and eventually getting kicked out of the Peace Corps due to his sexuality.