By Syd Miller, Associate Editor
Welcome back to Queer Country Rewind! I hope you enjoyed James Barker’s take on Steve Grand’s “All American Boy” last week. This week, we’ll be looking back at the godfather of queer country music, Patrick Haggerty, and his band Lavender Country.
The song in question is “Crying These Cocksucking Tears.” Right out from the title, this song, first released in 1973, gives the middle finger to the status quo.
“I’m fighting for when there won’t be no straight men / ‘Cause you all have a common disease,” Haggerty sings in the opening lines. The song goes on to continue to rag on straight men, telling them, “No one will come cry for you” and, “Your sexism’s a broken record.”
The title of the song may be rather vulgar, but Haggerty doesn’t shy away from the double entendre either — he tells straight men that he’s unimpressed with their talents to “Build up your steeple and rivet more people / To keep it erect in the air.”
It’s an artistic move whose influence you can see in more modern works like Paisley Fields’ Electric Park Ballroom (which features Haggerty): the mixing of the explicit and the implicit, the flamboyant and the slyly restrained.
Above all else, this is a country song. It’s giving a big F-U to The Man — in this case, straight men — and laying down a honky-tonk beat while it’s at it. It’s reclaiming a gay slur and throwing it back in the face of the oppressor with a banjo and fiddle backing up hayseed vocals.
In this day and age, when country music seems to be splintering in to a hundred different factions, it’s comforting to know that there were gay people making unabashedly queer country music in the ’70s. Maybe some people didn’t like it, but Lavender Country was making damn good country music alongside everyone else.
It didn’t top the charts, or actually get any radio play whatsoever, but what “Cryin” These Cocksucking Tears” did do was set a precedent. It told the world that you could be gay and make country music. Hell, you could make country music about being gay.
A movement always has to start somewhere. Someone has to light the spark. And in 1973, Patrick Haggerty set a blazing precedent with Lavender Country.
Queer Country Rewind is a bi-weekly column that takes a fresh look at one iconic queer country song every installment.