Roots, Toots n' Hoots Blog
More thoughts on country music and homosexuality
Jeffrey Remz | June 18, 2012
Carrie Underwood thrust the issue of gay marriage into the country music community earlier this month, and it has made me think more about it as well.
Underwood, who is happily married to Mike Fischer, answered a question posed by a British journalist about the issue and answered, "As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can't imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love."
I continue to give Underwood credit for saying what she said. Garth Brooks, whose sister is gay, did so years ago in his song We Shall Be Free. Brooks wrote,
"When we're free to love anyone we choose,/
When this worlds big enough for all different views,/
When we're all free to worship from our own kind of pew,/
Then we shall be free."
Despite these sentiments, they were most definitely the exception, not the rule. What country singer of any prominence ever came out of the closet except for Chely Wright? That was well after her songs were hitting the charts. Wright had the courage to do so although some wondered if it was an attempt to jump start her career due to the attention such an announcement was guaranteed to receive? Somehow I don't think people announce their sexuality based on greenbacks. That's way way too cynical an approach for me.
Over the years, several superstars (and several who never achieved star status) were thought to be gay. No proof existed, and frankly, what difference does it make? If the songs are of high quality, if they sing well and can perform, does it make any difference at all?
The country crowd has been aligned with a conservative, family-oriented lifestyle by and large (okay, Hank Sr. was not so conservative in his approach to living it up). As a result, in part, I suspect that the country music industry (and country is not alone because few genres have gay stars) would not find it easy to market and sell a gay singer. I also think that the public may be far more accepting than given credit.
Brooks and Underwood can say all they want about gay rights and marriage, but we still may aways away from the day when sexuality will not matter.