Lavender Country, the first country album with openly gay themes, has finally been rereleased. It was originally issued in 1973, but you can now buy the album here thanks to label Paradise of Bachelors.
Lavender Country was led by out gay activist Patrick Haggerty with Michael Carr, Eve Morris, and Robert Hammerstrom. The band spent a year writing, practicing, and recording their only album. Unsurprisingly, Lavender Country didn't receive a warm welcome when it was first released, over 40 years ago. Only 1,000 copies were pressed and distributed, and it was fully funded by Seattle's Gay Community Social Services, receiving no support from the music industry. This didn't bother Haggerty, who said "I wasn’t interested in a career in music. I was born to kick open the closet door.”
Ever since then however, Lavender Country has been gaining a following, including a 1999 recognition from the Country Music Hall of Fame. The album's new reissue has been generating positive buzz as well, earning an 8.6 on Pitchfork and a "Best New Reissue" distinction. Jayson Greene's Pitchfork review said that "pop songs are limited vessels for social justice, but the good ones do a remarkable job of teaching empathy, a few minutes at a time, and Haggerty's songs build a better world to live in, for forty minutes or so."
Of the album, Haggerty himself said, “I set out to write an album that covered the territory of what we were going through personally and politically at that time; to write our story in song. To cover the love stuff and the interpersonal stuff and the political stuff — to tell the whole story. Lavender Country was screaming a real truth that all of us in the movement needed to hear.”
You can find more information and buy Lavender Country here.