FRISCO, TEXAS – MAY 11: Brandy Clark attends the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards at The Ford Center at The Star on May 11, 2023 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Country music has long been associated with traditional values and rural American life, often perceived as a genre slow to embrace change. However, the landscape is evolving, and more LGBTQ+ artists are stepping into the spotlight, challenging stereotypes and enriching the genre with their diverse voices and experiences. This article celebrates some of these trailblazing country artists who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting their contributions and the significance of their presence in the country music scene.

1. Brandy Clark

Brandy Clark, an accomplished singer-songwriter, has made significant strides in country music. Known for her storytelling prowess, Clark’s songs often reflect the complexities of everyday life. Her openness about being a lesbian has paved the way for greater acceptance in the industry. With critically acclaimed albums like “12 Stories” and “Big Day in a Small Town,” Clark has earned multiple Grammy nominations, proving that authenticity resonates with audiences.

2. Ty Herndon

Ty Herndon made headlines in 2014 when he became one of the first major country artists to come out as gay. With hits like “What Mattered Most” and “Living in a Moment,” Herndon has a rich legacy in country music. His courage in coming out has inspired many and opened doors for future LGBTQ+ artists. Herndon continues to advocate for inclusion and acceptance within the industry, using his platform to support LGBTQ+ causes.

3. Chely Wright

Chely Wright’s 2010 memoir and accompanying album, “Lifted Off the Ground,” marked her public coming out as a lesbian, making her one of the first mainstream country artists to do so. Wright’s career includes hits like “Single White Female” and “Shut Up and Drive.” Her bravery in sharing her truth has made her a powerful advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, and she continues to use her voice to promote equality and acceptance.

4. Orville Peck

Orville Peck, known for his distinctive masked persona, brings a unique blend of classic country and alternative influences to the genre. Openly gay, Peck’s music often explores themes of love and identity from a queer perspective. His debut album, “Pony,” received widespread acclaim for its haunting melodies and emotive storytelling. Peck’s visibility and unapologetic expression of his identity are helping to reshape the narrative around what it means to be a country artist.

5. T.J. Osborne

As one half of the successful duo Brothers Osborne, T.J. Osborne’s coming out in 2021 was a landmark moment for country music. The announcement was met with widespread support from fans and industry peers alike. Brothers Osborne, known for hits like “Stay a Little Longer” and “It Ain’t My Fault,” continue to thrive, with T.J.’s openness bringing a new level of authenticity to their music.

6. Brooke Eden

Brooke Eden, who came out as a lesbian in 2021, has been making waves with her powerful voice and catchy tunes. Her songs, such as “Sunroof” and “Act Like You Don’t,” showcase her talent and charisma. Eden’s openness about her relationship with her fiancée, Hilary Hoover, has made her a role model for many young fans. Her courage and visibility are helping to foster a more inclusive environment within country music.

7. Shelby Lynne

Shelby Lynne, known for her soulful voice and introspective lyrics, came out as a lesbian later in her career. With a career spanning several decades, Lynne has garnered critical acclaim for albums like “I Am Shelby Lynne” and “Just a Little Lovin’.” Her honesty and authenticity in both her music and personal life have made her a respected figure in the industry.

8. Cameron Hawthorn

Cameron Hawthorn gained attention with his heartfelt songwriting and soulful vocals. As an openly gay artist, Hawthorn’s music often explores themes of love, identity, and self-acceptance. Songs like “Dancing in the Living Room” and “Oh Hot Damn!” showcase his talent for blending catchy melodies with poignant lyrics. Hawthorn’s openness about his journey as a gay man adds depth and relatability to his music.

9. Patrick Haggerty

Patrick Haggerty made history in 1973 with the release of Lavender Country’s self-titled album, widely considered the first openly gay country album. Haggerty’s lyrics boldly addressed LGBTQ+ themes at a time when such topics were taboo in mainstream music. Though the album faced backlash at the time, it has since been recognized as a groundbreaking work that paved the way for LGBTQ+ artists in country music.

10. Chely Wright

As mentioned earlier, Chely Wright’s coming out was a significant moment in country music history. In addition to her successful music career, Wright has become a prominent LGBTQ+ activist, advocating for equality and visibility within the industry. Her courage in sharing her truth has inspired many and continues to leave a lasting impact on the country music community.

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