Man Widely Regarded As First Openly Gay Country Singer Was 78 – Deadline

Patrick Haggerty, the trailblazer widely considered the first openly gay country singer, died Monday surrounded by his husband and children, according to a statement on his band’s Instagram page. He was 78.

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“This morning we lost an amazing soul. RIP Patrick Haggerty. After suffering a stroke several weeks ago, he was able to spend his final days at home surrounded by his children and lifelong husband, JB. Love and solidarity,” reads the statement.

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Lavender Country was the band’s name as well as the title of its debut album. The 1973 self-titled disc is the first known gay-themed album in country music history, according to Journal of County Music. Featuring tracks like “Come Out Singing” and “Cryin’ These C*cks***ing Tears,” it was financed and published by Gay Community Social Services in Seattle. Only 1,000 copies of the album were pressed for initial release.

The group’s original members were Haggerty, keyboard player Michael Carr, singer and fiddler Eve Morris and guitarist Robert Hammerstrom. The band only released two studio albums, the second was from 2022 Blackberry Rose. Over the years the membership varied, but Haggerty was always the leading figure. The group performed at the first Seattle Pride in 1974 and subsequently at numerous pride and other LGBT events throughout the West. They separated in 1976.

Lavender Country briefly reunited in 2000 after a prominent article about gay country musicians sparked renewed interest. In the same year, the band released an EP of five songs, Lavender Country Revisitedwhich featured re-recordings from the original album and two new compositions.

“Cryin’ These C*cks***ing Tears” was included on the 2012 compilation album Strong Love: Songs of Gay Liberation 1972-1981. The band’s debut album was re-released on the independent label Paradise of Bachelors in 2014, and the band did several reunion shows to support it.

Haggerty told Pitchfork earlier this year, “It’s really quite amazing to come full circle and realize that my anti-fascist work and my art are being combined into the same me. I’m going to go out on stage and be a screaming Marxist bitch , using all my artistry and rigidity to carry out my life’s work. I will be exactly who I am.”

Here’s the statement posted Tuesday on Paradise of Bachelor’s Facebook page:

We are heartbroken to confirm that Patrick Haggerty, the visionary songwriter, unflappable activist and irrepressible raconteur of Lavender Country, passed away at home early this morning, surrounded by family and friends.

After we partnered with him to reissue and tell the story of his 1973 album, widely considered to be the first openly gay country record ever released, Patrick finally saw the well-deserved recognition and accolades that had eluded him in decades. But to us he was more than a hero; he was also a friend, mentor, companion and father figure to us and our families. He was also funny; it was always an adventure to spend time with him.

Patrick changed my life and I’m just one of a legion of people who can say that. When I called him back in 2013, almost exactly nine years ago today, neither of us could have imagined where it would lead us. At the time, music was largely a private practice for Patrick; he occasionally played in nursing homes and felt that lavender country was in his past. I had just welcomed a son into the world and Patrick and JB watched him grow up and showered him with gifts and love from afar and when they stopped by on tour. His songs and his example—as an artist, activist, and father, as a human being moving through the world, fighting hate and cruelty, trying to raise a righteous voice for love—continue to inspire me, and I hope you too.

Patrick was never at a loss for stories or words, but for me two words—his extraordinary father’s moral imperative—sum up much of what he stood for: “Don’t sneak.”

Sending love to all who loved him like we did.



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