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10 LGBTQ+ country stars who are out and proud

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While country music has long been associated with pick-up trucks and (heterosexual) honky-tonk romance, a new wave of artists is challenging stereotypes and proudly stepping into the spotlight as LGBTQ+ trailblazers. In a genre not historically known for its rainbow hues, these gay country musicians are tuning their guitars to a more inclusive melody, proving that love and authenticity can thrive even in the old dusty roads of Nashville. So get ready to stomp your cowpoke boots to a more diverse rhythm as we celebrate the country stars who have fearlessly come out as gay and are adding a vibrant splash of pride to the country music canvas. Read on for 10 country stars who have come out as gay

Lavender Country 

Formed in 1972, Lavender Country are queer country pioneers who released what many assume is the first known gay-themed country music album in 1973. They followed it up 50 years later with a sophomore album called Blackberry Rose.

T.J. Osborne 

T.J. Osborne is the lead singer and one half of country duo, The Brothers Osborne. After having been out to his brother for years, the country superstar came out as gay in 2021. “I’m very comfortable being gay,” T.J. said in an interview with Time. “I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.” T.J. coming out made him the first gay artist signed to a major country label. 

Paisley Fields 

Paisley Fields is a queer country artist whose songs on his album Limp Wrist (2022) are about growing up closeted and queer in rural Iowa. Paisley is a touring member of re-formed queer-country icons, Lavender Country.

Orville Peck

The former punk rock drummer and ballet dancer turned country artist has collaborated with Shania Twain and released a cover of Lady Gaga’s LGBTQ+ anthem “Born This Way” (and corrected some insensitive lyrics). Orville Peck has been out as gay since the beginning of his career, and sings about the universal experience of love and loss, from the perspective of a gay cowboy.

Waylon Payne 

Son of country musicians Jody Payne and Sammi Smith, country singer-songwriter Waylon Payne was raised by his aunt and uncle, who disowned him when he came out as gay at age eighteen. Payne sings about addiction, recovery, and the relationship between fathers and sons. 

Trixie Mattel

The drag queen superstar (and winner of Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race) is also a country-folk artist. She’s released a song with Lavender Country, and covered Johnny Cash and June Carter’s hit “Jackson” with Orville Peck. Despite being a queer icon, Trixie makes it clear her country music isn’t explicitly about being gay, or the queer experience. “I think my music is not so much about being gay; my music is about being a human being. It’s not about gay relationships; it’s about relationships. It’s not about feeling like an outsider because you’re gay. Maybe it’s just about feeling like an outsider,” she told NPR.

Lil Nas X 

Though his music is predominantly in the genre of hip hop and pop, we can’t forget that Lil Nas X’s first hit was the country rap hit “Old Town Road”. It actually reached 19 on the Billboard Hot Country chart before it was disqualified. Lil Nas X also recorded a remix of the song with country legend, Billy Ray Cyrus. Lil Nas X publicly came out as gay on June 30, 2019. 

Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon released a slew of successful country albums and had several hits before coming out as gay in 2014, becoming the first mainstream male country music singer to do so. Speaking to People about his sexuality in 2014, Herndon said, “I realized I had an incredible story that could possibly help someone’s son or daughter or grandchild’s life not be as difficult as mine has been.” He continued, “Maybe they wouldn’t have gone through as much pain and suffering. It’s time to tell my truth.” In 2019, Herndon changed the pronouns in his song “What Mattered Most” to reflect a same-sex relationship between two men. 

Shane McAnally 

Shane McAnally is a country music singer, songwriter and producer, who originally started as a solo artist in 1999. He left country music in 2000 and came back in 2006 as a songwriter, working with Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves. McAnally came out in the early 2000s, and married his partner, Michael Baum, in 2012. 

Sam Williams

Sam Williams (son of Hank Williams Jr.) came out as gay in the music video for “Tilted Crown” in which he kisses his boyfriend on camera for the first time. Speaking to his sexuality and coming out on Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly, Williams said, “At first I kind of thought that, ‘I’m tackling something else with this.’ And I thought that maybe that’s for another project.” He continued, “But again, I felt like I was promoting invisibility, like I wasn’t being visible and wasn’t being myself. And I just thought it was the perfect opportunity to just show who I was.”

More from So.Gay:

15 major league football players who have come out of the closet

The 11 best queer horror movies

Who is Joe Locke? Everything to know about the ‘Heartstopper’ hottie

Who is Chris Olsen? Everything to know about the sexy TikTok star

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