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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

Country Pride

These 10 LGBT-friendly country artists really rock…
By Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi
While the LGBT community is constantly trying to bust generalizations and stereotypes, it’s hard not to be on the contributing end of that, particularly when it comes to certain genres of music. Country music is one of those genres that get a bad rap for being not only homophobic, but openly anti-gay, though not all artists fall into that category. When the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, many country artists took to social media to show their support for and excitement about something that was a long time coming. But some country stars’ support of the LGBT community runs much deeper: here are 10 country artists who have proved they are true allies.
Garth Brooks
With an over 30-year-long career, it’s no surprise that Brooks is one of the longest-standing LGBT advocates when it comes to music. His 1992 hit “We Shall Be Free” included lyrics such as “When we’re free to love anyone we choose / When this world’s big enough for all different views / When we can all worship from our own kind of pew / Then we shall be free.” Inspired by the gay rights riots happening in L.A. that same year, this song proved to be one of his most controversial, but it earned him a GLAAD Media Award a year later.
Carrie Underwood
The devout all-American songstress is one of the few artists who manage to combine religion and LGBT support, and she does so seamlessly and eloquently. Back in 2012, she stated in an interview with the U.K.-based publication The Independent, “Our church is gay-friendly and, above all, God wanted us to love others,” adding, “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told that I can’t marry somebody I love and want to marry. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
Dolly Parton
Over the course of her career, this country music icon has become so much more than just a friend of the LGBT community, but has become a symbol for the love that the genre can show. In a 2014 interview with Billboard, Parton famously stated, “I don’t think we should be judgmental. Lord, I’ve got enough problems of my own to pass judgment on somebody else.” What could be more appealing? Well, she’s even competed in some of the drag shows that her image has inspired—and has even graciously lost.
Kacey Musgraves
Raised in small-town Texas, Musgraves has been quoted as saying that she witnessed the struggles of friends coming out to very conservative families. Her 2003 hit single “Follow Your Arrow” was meant to be an homage to following whatever path you’re on, no matter how people feel about it, including the line “Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into.” In an interview with Pride Source, she advocated for same-sex marriage: “Whether or not you agree with gay marriage or the fact that people don’t choose to be gay, we share the same emotions, needs and wants. I just think that everyone should be included in that.… Even if you don’t agree with everything I’m saying, as a human, hopefully you can just recognize that people should be able to do what they want to do and love who they want to love.”
The Dixie Chicks
This musical trio has a long-standing history of support from the LGBT community. Lead singer Natalie Maines has been quoted as stating “I’m pro gay marriage. I’m pro gay everything,” while singing sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson released a song in 2010 titled “Ain’t No Son,” which follows the repercussions when a young boy comes out to his disapproving father.
Willie Nelson
While having a song appear in the controversial (for Hollywood) Brokeback Mountain means much by way of the gay alliance, Nelson’s laid-back stance on life, love and weed is what garners him a spot on this list. He’s joked that everyone should have equal rights to be miserable in marriage but, on a more serious note, has simply stated that he’s met both gay and straight people, and “I can’t tell the difference. People are people where I came from.”
Brandy Clark
While her career started long before she hit the stage herself, Clark is one of the first few country music artists to come out, and has had the support of both her LGBT and country music communities since then. Her resumé includes writing songs for fellow artists such as Kacey Musgraves, but she has since added performing to her rotation as well.
Wynonna Judd
It was well over a decade ago that Judd was publicly condemned by her Christian fans for performing on a gay and lesbian cruise, though she stated that she had a massive gay fan base as well. Later that year, she spoke to The Advocate regarding the backlash, stating, “My job is to lighten the spirit and love the heck out of people who feel really unloved,” adding that it did not prevent her from moving forward with her plans to perform.
Martina McBride
While it took a long portion of her career for McBride to become vocal about her support of the LGBT community, she has had a couple of songs that alluded to her advocate side, such as “This One’s for the Girls” and “I Love You.” But in 2009, she took a step further and sat down for an interview with OUT, where she said, “I feel like tolerance is very important. I have three daughters and that’s what I teach them. I think we should all be tolerant of each other and embrace each others’ strengths and differences and uniqueness and beauty.”
Tim McGraw
In 2010, McGraw appeared in the gay-themed indie flick Dirty Girl, putting him on the roster for LGBT-supporting artists. He later spoke at a Tennessee middle school on anti-gay bullying after a 13-year-old boy committed suicide in Houston as a result of being ridiculed. His wife, fellow country singer Faith Hill, has also been cited as being one of the supportive community that helped Chely Wright through her own coming out.

ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI-PIZZI is a Toronto-based writer and editor who has more pink lipsticks, neon Post-its and daily cups of coffee than the average human. When she’s not testing out beauty products, you can find her hanging around the city with her pup Odie. Follow her at @ashkowapizzi.

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