Basic Folk 189 – Patrick Haggerty (Lavender Country)

A note: our guest on this episode, Patrick Haggerty of Lavender  country passed away on October 31 at the age of 78 several weeks after he’d had a stroke. This episode was produced before his death and the interview was conducted earlier this year with Lizzie No. We are grateful to be able to share this conversation with Patrick and we hope our listeners will take some time to learn about Patrick’s remarkable life, especially his pro-LGBTQ+ and pro-working class activism. We are sending love to his many fans, friends, and especially his family at this difficult time.

Patrick Haggerty, the frontperson of Lavender Country, is a legend of queer country music. He made history when he released the first openly gay country album in 1973. In a lot of ways, Nashville still isn’t ready for queer folks to be our outspoken selves, but in 1973 it was almost unthinkable. Patrick walked into the cultural storm consciously, knowing that his story needed to be told even though few were ready to hear it.

After being shunned from the music industry, Patrick continued to do important work in the communities he cared about. He worked for decades as a social worker, community organizer, gay rights activist, and anti-racist activist. He got married and raised children. Then, a wild twist of internet fate took place. One of Lavender Country’s songs got posted to youtube and Patrick found himself signed to a record label and creating his second album. He re-emerged into a world that was more gay friendly, and to a new legion of fans who had found his music on the internet.

It was a special honor to speak with Patrick and his husband, JB, after spending time on the road with them this past spring during the “Roundup” queer country tour. Their steadfast relationship, humor, activism, and dedication to building a better world have taught me so much about what it means to make a life in music as a queer person. We at Basic Folk are honored to share this conversation with you.

CONTENT WARNING: this episode contains mentions of self-harm, suicide, and homophobia.

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