Lavender Country: ‘If I could do a show with Lil Nas X, I would gleefully die and go to Hell’

In 1973, Patrick Haggerty sat down to write a song about how pissed off he was with heterosexual men. “I wanted to write a song about straight white male supremacy and how fucked up it is,” recalls the 77-year-old, speaking over the phone from his home in Bremerton, Washington, across the bay from Seattle. He called the song “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears”, and included it on his band’s eponymous debut Lavender Country, the first country album ever recorded by an openly gay artist. “That song put a scarlet letter on my back and made me untouchable,” he explains. “I had to choose between being a screaming Marxist bitch or going back into the closet and going to Nashville to try to do something with country music. I made my choice with my eyes open and never regretted it.”

Just 1,000 copies of Lavender Country were pressed and sold via adverts in the underground gay press. When they were gone, they were gone. Haggerty spent a couple of years playing his songs to audiences of fellow gay activists, then got a job as a social worker and moved on with his life. “Lavender Country died unsung and unnoticed,” he says. “It was so dead that I was married to my husband for three years before he even knew I made it.”

That all changed in 2014, when Brendan Greaves, an American folklorist and co-founder of the record label Paradise of Bachelors, was forwarded a YouTube upload of “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears”. Greaves was fascinated. “He called me up and offered me a contract to re-release Lavender Country,” remembers Haggerty. “I didn’t believe him. I thought he was selling encyclopaedias and kept waiting for the shoe to fall.”

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