Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

You can't pair a wine with an album...can you?

CQ Presents “Queer From Here,” Pt.4: Mercy Bell

By Lauren Tabak & Mercy Bell

Welcome back to Lauren Tabak’s “Queer From Here” series, in which Tabak has photographed some of the faces of Country Queer, continuing today with Nashvillebased singer-songwriter Mercy Bell. Currently, Mercy is busy collaborating on a musical about the mid-century leather scene in Chicago, which we recently spoke with her about.

Be sure to read our interview with the photographer where she discusses the genesis for this series, which she refers to as “…an archive of modern queer identity that explores what it’s like to be queer here & now.”

For all our #queerfromhere posts, click here.

Mercy Bell, 37 • She/Her • Nashville, TN


You can't pair a wine with an album...can you?

Nashville is a pretty amazing place if you love music. I spent my free time in the indie/roots/folk side of Nashville, which has always been so accepting of me as a queer person of color, and has taught me so much about being a songwriter.

I tend to think I look gay, and queer folks usually realize I’m queer instantly. Folks from more traditional or conservative cultures or backgrounds who don’t have exposure to openly queer people still assume I’m straight. I’ve lived in queer spaces for 15 years so I never closet or hide my sexuality anymore. Once I came out I stayed out.

I’m 37 and just starting to learn how to play with fashion and style. I used to be 100lbs heavier, closeted, devoutly Catholic, had untreated OCD/depression/ADHD and anxiety. I just hated myself. I just wanted to hide. I never had a role model like Lizzo or Queer Eye to teach me how to embrace myself and learn about fashion. But in my 30s I started to embrace self-love and loving my body just as it is, I started to learn about fashion and style. I owe this to my amazing friends @tylervarvel, @jill_pugh, @ladybeans0430 my sisters, and my girlfriend @til_it_aint. They’ve been my Queer Eye, teaching me how to embrace style. It’s for everyone!

Now it’s a celebration not a curse. I am curvy! I am Filipino-American! I grew up all over the country! I grew up Catholic! I am pansexual! My brain is wild! These are a lot of amazing elements I can incorporate into my aesthetic. It’s exciting to be able to shape shift.

Photo Credit: Lauren Tabak

Lauren Tabak’s “Queer From Here” series for Country Queer will run on Mondays for the foreseeable future. For more information about Tabak, go here. For more information about Mercy Bell, go here.