There’s no debating the wave of conservatism that permeates country music. “Redneck” and “white trash” may be common stereotypes for its fans and as an avid country music fan, even I hold these stereotypes.
Hearing “faggot” screamed from a moving pickup truck in downtown Blue Ridge GA feeds those stereotypes as well as a perceived lack of progress within the country music community . . . that is until now.
Last month Chely Wright, who came out in 2010, called for a country music artist who was a ‘big deal’ to step up for equal rights for all. Carrie Underwood answered that call.
“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,” Underwood said. “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.”
Underwood, who is well known for publicly declaring her faith, let Jesus take the wheel, stating that it was her Christian beliefs that forced her to declare support for gay marriage. Originally Baptist, Underwood and husband, pro-hockey player Mike Fisher, now attend a non-denominational “gay-friendly” church.
Underwood’s stance threatens the very fabric of conservatism woven into country music’s wrangler jeans. Could this be Dixie Chicks 2.0?
In 2003, Dixie Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines’ comments overseas about President George Bush ignited a wave of backlash and they all but disappeared from country radio. Has Underwood, who has always portrayed herself as the conservative, God-fearing Oklahoma girl-next-door, set herself to follow in Maines’ footsteps?
I think not. The youth of this country are increasingly in opposition to their parents’ views on this issue regardless of musical taste and judging by the comments on various country music news outlets, if Underwood loses fans, it’ll be the older fans.
Also, Underwood is not the first major music star whose genre is stereotyped to be anti-gay. Rapper Jay-Z recently made similar statements without backlash and the African-American community is flush with as much Bible-thumping as its country counterpart.
It takes time to see a shift in attitudes and while I think those involved in country music have been slower to react, those changes are definitely happening. LeAnn Rimes has always been vocal in her support for the LGBTQ population. And while rumors swirl about artists’ sexuality and I don’t think we’re ready for a major out country star, the community is being warmed to the idea with CMT casting the first openly gay reality show contestant on Redneck Island.
Regardless of how it works out for Carrie Underwood, we’re ‘blown away’ by your support. Here’s to the first step. And Carrie, there’s a spot for you on the David Atlanta Magazine pride float should you choose to take it.