From alt-country to folk to dead-center mainstream country music, the genre features an ever-growing list of artists who identify as LGBTQ+ — and incorporate their perspective into their songs.
The presence of country artists who identify as queer is far from a new phenomenon. Songs sung from this perspective arguably date back to the late 1930s, when a band called the Sweet Violet Boys (also known as the Prairie Ramblers) released “I Love My Fruit,” one of the earliest instances of a song thought to be about being gay. According to the BBC, a 1960s country artist named Wilma Burgess is believed to be the genre’s first openly gay star, charting 15 hits on the Billboard Country & Western charts between 1965 and 1975. In the late ’70s, she left the music industry and opened up Nashville’s first lesbian bar, the Hitching Post.
Lavender Country, led by its frontman Patrick Haggerty, is one of the best-known pioneers of LGBTQ+ country, and Haggerty remained a passionate anti-racism and gay rights activist until his death in 2022. His music continues to be a groundbreaking force for openly gay country artists, and the Lavender Country track “Come Out Singing” is the oldest song on this list, clocking in at a 1973 release date.
A LGBTQ+ perspective in country music has always been out there, but it’s slowly starting to become less stigmatized, with help from openly gay mainstream stars like Chely Wright, Brothers Osborne‘s T.J. Osborne, Brandi Carlile and Ty Herndon.
Meanwhile, a new generation of stars like Lily Rose and Brooke Eden are continuing to expand the footprint of queer country music, offering an increasing variety of perspectives and experiences to better relate to an LGBTQ+ audience.
Scroll through the list below for a sample of songs that speak to an LGBTQ+ perspective, as sung and written by artists sharing their real-life experiences.
We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Country: 20 Songs That Share a LGBTQ+ Perspective
LGBTQ+ artists have achieved more visibility in recent years, but they still make up an under-heard, marginalized portion of the genre as a whole. As stigmas lessen and activists work for equality in the genre and beyond, more and more artists are putting out songs that speak specifically to an LGBTQ+ perspective. Here are 20 great songs that tell that story.