8 Openly Gay Country Artists Who Challenged the Genre’s Stereotypes

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Singer Ty Herndon attends the 40th Annual CMA Awards at the Gaylord Entertainment Center November 6, 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
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At age 51, country music singer Ty Herndon has come out as a "proud and happy gay man." This is not only a big step for Herndon personally, but also for country music. There are very few country music artists who are openly gay. Nevertheless, Herndon is not the only one. Check out these eight stars and their stories.

Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon realized that he was gay at age 10, and he began coming out to close friends and family in his twenties. He told People magazine, “You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.” He is very happy with his long-term partner Matt who he has been with since 2008. It must be such a relief for Herndon to live his life in the open.

Chely Wright

Chely Wright made history when she came out to People magazine in 2010. She told the publication of her hesitation, “There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality. I wasn’t going to be the first,” but continued, ”Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out.” Wright made a brave decision and set a great example by being so open.

Steve Grand

Steve Grand made history in 2013, with the release of his self-funded music video for his song ”All-American Boy.” The video went viral because the storyline revolved around the unrequited love between two men. Out magazine put him on their list of the 100 most compelling LGBT people that year. Grand took a major risk with that video, but it definitely paid off. Buzzfeed included the music video in an article titled ”24 Most Brilliant Music Videos from 2013.”

Brandy Clark

Brandy Clark had a lot of trouble breaking into the country music industry, but her star is rising. Her own music is not climbing the charts quite yet, but her collaborations with stars like Kasey Musgraves are very successful. Clark told the Washington Post, “I don’t write songs for straight people or gay people or black people or white people. I write songs for people. I want them to put themselves in these songs. I would feel that way if I was straight.” She is not the only song writer to struggle when it comes to writing her own songs, but she has a great story to tell and I believe she will find great success.

K.D. Lang

K.D. Lang was a successful country artist who lost her footing after she came out, pushing her to switch over to pop music. She explained this to People magazine saying, “I was there in Nashville, a lesbian, a vegetarian, a Canadian, and trying to get in with this white, male, Christian society. They were like, ‘What the hell are you doing here, girl?’” It’s good to see that she was able to make the best out of a tough situation and still be a musical legend.

Doug Stevens

Doug Stevens from the band Doug Stevens and the Outband, is a co-founder of the Lesbian and Gay Country Music Association. The band has been successful with many types of audiences and venues, performing at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center, Gracie Mansion, and even with Joan Rivers at Town Hall in New York City. 

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Shane McAnally

Shane McAnally was a performer in the late ’90s and early 2000s, but now he spends his days writing for artists like Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert, and for the television show Nashville. He told the New York Times in 2013, “My career really took off when I came out. When I stopped hiding who I am, I started writing hits.”

Patrick Haggerty

The band 1970s band Lavender Country "released what's widely considered the first album of openly gay country music." Band member Patrick Haggerty is openly gay and has said, "It was an absolutely radical act. I wasn’t interested in a career in music. I was born to kick open the closet door."

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