Lavender Country Comes Out for Seattle Pride’s 40th Year
By Peter Johnson
Seattle Pride is proud to announce that Lavender Country, a Country Music Hall of Fame-honored band, will perform at the head of the annual Seattle Pride Parade on Sunday, June 29, 2014.
Lavender Country performed at the initial Seattle Pride in 1974, the year after releasing their self-titled debut album. The band is considered the first out and proud LGBTQ country music act.
Lavender Country, the band’s 1973 album, was recently reissued and is available via Paradise of Bachelors Records on iTunes, Amazon, and the band’s website. The record has received acclaim from outlets such as Pitchfork and Grantland.
Lavender Country will perform on a float featuring fellow organizers of the 1974 Seattle Pride. 2014 Pride aims to celebrate the history of the Northwest’s LGBTQ rights movement and advance the ongoing progress the LGBTQ community has made since first coming out in 1974, the year of the inaugural Seattle Pride celebration.
Honoring Lavender Country, as the first openly gay country band—and some of the first out musical performers of any genre—is integral to the Generations of Pride theme, as Lavender Country singer Patrick Haggerty explained: “Lavender Country was a collective undertaking. …It was a community effort.”
The band’s return to Seattle Pride is a symbol of how far the gay liberation movement has come since Lavender Country and other pioneers took their initial brave steps out of the closet.
Coming out in the 1970s was bold, often dangerous business as Haggerty remembers it: “In 1973, you knew from the outset that no matter what you did or what you wrote, you were on your own. Nobody was gonna help you. No [record label] was gonna pick you up. …You couldn’t do that and be out. That was a big problem. It was nasty.”
Lavender Country, the band’s self-titled record, is full of the complicated emotions and revolutionary feeling of the time. It features titles like “Come Out Singin’,” “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears,” and “Back in the Closet Again” at a time when major label country music was heavily censored. The record is full of the humor, sadness, joy, and frustration that accompanied coming out in the early years of the LGBTQ pride movement.
Lavender Country is proud and excited to celebrate the advance of LGBTQ rights and the strength of the LGBTQ liberation movement. “For forty years people were so intimidated by the fact that [Lavender Country] was gay, and country. They couldn’t hear it. They were intimidated for forty years by those… things. It blocked 99 percent of the population from even trying to listen to the album. All those barriers came down. It’s our victory, the people who are [going to be] on the float. It’s a huge victory for all of us.”
Seattle Pride is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, WA, focused on informing and educating the community on LGBT issues through community outreach and produced events, including the annual Seattle Pride Parade, Pride Idol, Pride Brunch and the Seattle Pride Picnic.