A Brief History of Queer Country Music, From Lavender Country to Orville Peck
On their 2019 self-titled debut album, the Highwomen -- folk powerhouse Brandi Carlile, award-winning songwriter Natalie Hemby, country / pop crossover artist Maren Morris and Americana luminary Amanda Shires -- dedicated themselves to telling stories that have been overlooked by mainstream country music. In early interviews and following their performance at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival, their song “If She Ever Leaves Me” (penned by Shires, her husband Jason Isbell and Chris Tompkins) was been billed as “the first gay country song."
However, the song is really one installment in a decades-long tradition of queer country music. While out LGBTQ+ country artists are few and far between in the mainstream, the queer country scene is more vibrant than ever.
Read on for a (brief and incomplete, admittedly) overview of queer country musicians past and present: