Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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Bi/Pan Artists You Need to Know, Pt. 3: Sarah Shook

By Eryn Brothers and Dale Geist

Americana Fest, 2019. Photo by Chris Estes

(This is the third in a three-part series on bi and pan country artists. Be sure to check out Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.)

Sarah Shook stands alone.

Shook (they/them) is not only queer – describing themselves at various times as bisexual and pansexual, as well as genderqueer – but also an atheist and a vegan. It’s a tossup as to which of those things is more likely to piss off the theoretical country music fan that radio aims at, but being forthrightly, unapologetically their own person has earned Shook the admiration of throngs, including us. That’s why Part 3 of our Bi Visibility Week series is dedicated to this stone country badass.

Shook, in sum, gives us what we want from an artist: inspiration. God knows it’s hard enough to truly be yourself even if you’re a straight white guy, so when we see somebody like Shook doing it in word, deed, and art, it’s a North Star to steer by.


A Honky-Tonk of Our Own

And they’ve got the goods to back it up. Self-taught on piano and guitar, Shook formed a couple bands in their teens and early 20s before finally hitting on the winning combination with The Disarmers, whose debut album in 2015 immediately established them as an artistic force in Americana. With a ferocious, rootsy sound and Shook’s straight-shooting songs about the ecstatic highs and lacerating lows of a true country outlaw life, The Disarmers have built a fervent following among fans and critics.

We reached out to Shook to get their thoughts on Bi Visibility Week. Their response is typically inspirational.

“I think it’s easy to forget sometimes that queer people have always existed in the realm of country music, some writing and performing, some producing, some working on the technical side, sound and light engineers, tour managers, merch manufacturers, and the fans that make it all possible. And so many of us – especially in the past – were closeted, some for their entire lives. For Bi Visibility Week I want to acknowledge the folks in country music who can’t come out yet and just say we know you’re there, your thoughts, feelings, and experiences are valid, and you are a part of our family always.”

Watch this bi as hell video and tell me you don’t believe. I dare you.

Want more Sarah? Check out this recent interview, and our list of “Non-Binary Artists You Need to Hear,” featuring Shook. You can also own a CQ hat like the one Sarah’s wearing in the pic.