by Annie Parnell, Editor & Staff Writer
Last Friday, Brooke Eden surprised the audience of the Grand Ole Opry with a surprise guest: country icon and outspoken LGBTQ+ ally Trisha Yearwood. After performing the first chorus of Yearwood’s classic “She’s In Love With The Boy,” which was recently re-recorded for its thirtieth anniversary to appear on her upcoming album Every Girl: Deluxe in August, the two changed the lyrics to celebrate Pride in a powerfully personal way.
“Love is love, you can’t just say it, you’ve got to mean it,” Yearwood said to the crowd, while noting that Eden recently got engaged to Nashville promotions director Hilary Hoover, who’s worked with Yearwood and her husband Garth Brooks in the past. “Let’s just sing it for everybody.”
The lyrics change swapped the names “Tommy” and “Katie” for “Hilary” and “Brooke,” as well as switching the song’s iconic chorus to “she’s in love with the girl.” Brooke Eden’s recent triumphant singles have also told the story of her blossoming relationship — each focuses on a chapter in the joyful journey of self-acceptance, and the music videos for songs “Sunroof” and “Got No Choice” even feature Hilary as Brooke’s love interest.
A statement by Eden thanked Trisha and The Grand Ole Opry for “helping to create a community of love and acceptance,” calling the gesture “a beautiful way to put action behind the quote ‘love is love'” and declaring “this is country music.” The gesture wasn’t Yearwood’s first foray into LGBTQ+ allyship by far — in 1999, as “She’s In Love With The Boy” was topping the charts, she made waves by performing a benefit at a Nashville gay bar to raise money for a cancer-stricken queer friend.
This moment comes at a powerful crossroads for country music, as audiences are calling upon the industry to make good on their Pride publicity with action, and to interrogate what has and hasn’t changed after last year’s “hour of reckoning” with social justice.
Brooke Eden recently performed at the OUTLOUD: Raising Voices festival featuring Pride Live’s Stonewall Day in Los Angeles, and is set to perform at CMT’s Concert for Love and Acceptance tomorrow night at 8 PM EST.
Annie Parnell is an Associate Editor and Staff Writer with Country Queer and cohost of the radio show Cowboy Church. She also runs the newsletter Tugboat. Currently, she’s based in Charlottesville, Virginia.