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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The (Not So Secret) Gay History Of Country Music

Country music star Chely Wright has come out as a lesbian on the cover of People magazine, part of a high-stakes media campaign that some feel may affect her marketability.

She's hardly the first one to the party:
1939
Though it's unclear why, "Lavender Cowboy," a recording by Texas-born country singer Vernon Dalhart is banned from the radio. Dalhart leaves the industry to become a security guard; is inducted into the Nashville Song Writers Hall of Fame in 1970.

1973
Lavender Country, fronted by openly gay Seattle-based Patrick Haggerty, releases America's first overtly gay-themed country album. The band pressed only 1,000 copies. Songs include "Back in the Closet Again" and "Come Out Singing." "For many," the album cover notes, "Lavender Country is a land of fear, confusion, and loneliness."

1991
Some consider Pirates of the Mississippi's video "Feed Jake" the "first country music video with a gay theme." The clip tells the story of two men, one of whom dies, leaving the other to take care of his dog. Though the song features the lyric: "If you get an ear pierced, some will call you gay," the band's manager denies intentional gay undertones.

1992
Canadian star k.d. lang – whose country recording career began in 1983 — comes out in The Advocate, after she'd effectively switched her focus to pop music.

1998
Musician Doug Stevens, of Doug Stevens & The Outband, forms the the Lesbian and Gay Country Music Association (LGCMA) to support gay country artists and promote country music in the gay community.

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