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Country Music  
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Other lesbian singers came from the folk tradition, and thus were comfortable with a country song or two, but few were mainly identified as country. Since the birth of women's music in the early 1970s, Alix Dobkin, Woody Simmons, Robin Flower, Teresa Trull, and Barbara Higbie have demonstrated definite country influence as they appear at women's coffeehouses, clubs, and festivals. Groups like the Reel World String Band, Deadly Nightshade, and Ranch Romance draw crowds of hooting, foot-stomping lesbians to concerts that rival any country hoe-down.

Country Western Dancing

In the mid-1980s, another phenomenon gained popularity among both gay men and lesbians--country western dancing. Drawn to the flash and polish of country line dancing and two-step, gay men and lesbians from Dallas to New York City and from Los Angeles to Toronto flock to country music dance clubs.

They dress in bolos and pointy-toed boots and learn the Texas two-step and line dances with names like "Achy Breaky Heart" and "Boot-Scootin' Boogie." On these dance floors those who grew up listening to the "Grand Ole Opry" meet with those who grew up listening to rock and roll to dress in costume and move in the tightly controlled syncopation of the cowboy dance.

Political Attitudes

There are, however, many within the lesbian and gay communities who decry the increased popularity of country music, pointing out that country speaks to a straight, conservative, white society and that many fans of country music are and racist. In particular, gay men and lesbians of color have often felt alienated by the country craze, seeing it as the glorification of those who enforced segregation in the South and destroyed Native American society in the West.

Still, lovers of country music can point to such stars as multiple grammy winner Garth Brooks, who has been publicly supportive of gay rights. Brooks even released a song, "We Shall Be Free," that includes in its definition of liberty the freedom to love whomever you choose. Even when it created a storm of controversy, Brooks stood behind his song, leading many gay and lesbian country fans to hope that country music can, indeed, find a place for everyone.

Tina Gianoulis

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arts >> Overview:  Music: Popular

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons have had tremendous influence on popular music, though some musical genres have been more receptive to a homosexual presence than others.

arts >> Overview:  Music: Women's

Stylistically diverse and continually evolving, women's music has broadened over time, but it remains committed to lesbian visibility and feminist values.

arts >> Overview:  Rodeos

The International Gay Rodeo Association, a thriving group with more than thirty affiliates across the United States and in two Canadian provinces, celebrates both the cultural heritage of the rural West and the glbtq identities of its participants.

social sciences >> Overview:  Rural Life

Rural life offers both challenges and satisfactions for glbtq people.

arts >> Overview:  The Western

A distinctive American narrative genre that has developed over more than two centuries, the Western is now consumed worldwide; characteristically depicting homosocial relationships, it is also frequently suffused with homoeroticism.

arts >> Dobkin, Alix

A lifelong progressive activist and a pioneer in women's music, Alix Dobkin not only helped create a new era of women's music in the 1970s but also paved the way for mainstsream lesbian musicians.

arts >> lang, k. d.

Long before she came out, lesbians had made singer k.d. lang their own.


Dickinson, Chris. "Country Undetectable: Gay Artists in Country Music." The Journal of Country Music 21.1 (1999): 28-39.

"Gay Ole Opry." The Advocate (December 15, 1992): 75-85.

The International Association of Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Club Website :

The Official Lesbian and Gay Country Music Association Website:


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Country Music  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 1, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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