Country Queer

Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country and Americana.

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One Year of Country Queer: Greatest Hits

By Dale Henry Geist, Publisher

A year ago I logged into GoDaddy and pointed the countryqueer.com domain to the WordPress site that had been Strange Fire. Back when I had a job, and more money than time, I’d bought the site from Cindy Emch, who had inherited it from its founder, Kevin James Thornton. I kept Cindy on as Editor-In-Chief, replaced the Strange Fire logo with ours, and we went to town.

The vision was simple: “Lifting up LGBTQ+ voices in country, Americana, and folk.” We published the first piece under the CQ banner, an announcement of the new trucker hats, on September 11, 2019. (Merch was always gonna be a key piece of the CQ thang.) This was quickly followed by a welcome from the publisher (moi) and the editor (Cindy.)

In the year since, we’ve published 157 articles, interviews, reviews, lists, and – hey! – merch announcements, covering more than 200 artists, written by more than 20 contributors. We’ve broken our fair share of news, including, gratifyingly, several artists who came out in our pages. We’ve shipped CQ merch to 35 states and four countries. We put on one live show (and were poised for more when…well, you know.) We’ve got an extremely modest YouTube Channel. And now we’ve got a rippin’ podcast.

At the grave and near-certain risk of forgetting someone, for which I apologize in advance, I’ll take this opportunity to thank, for their invaluable contributions: Cindy Emch, Alan Richard, Steacy Easton, Michael John Houghton, Julie Nolen, Margie Neely, Justine Mendoza, and the current CQ Staff: Rachel Cholst, Mya Byrne, Cher Guevara, Sydney Miller, Adeem Bingham, Eryn Brothers, Sean Farragher, and Alma Contra.

Lastly: thank you. Thanks for reading the articles, listening to the podcast, buying the merch, engaging on the socials, talking me out of quitting; thanks for opening your hearts to the important and fun work we’re, all of us, doing. Y’all are stone badasses.

Greatest Hits

These are the 12 most-read articles on the site since the beginning. Why 12? I could make something up, but the truth is, if I stopped at 10 I’d have to leave off a couple of my faves, and I just couldn’t do it.

12. Mary Gauthier: The CQ Interview, Pt. 1

Dale Geist, 4/28/20

I love Mary. You will, too.

11. Esquerita: The Flamboyant Lost Rock ‘n Roll Pioneer

Alan Richard, 6/3/20

Alan contributed this enlightening piece on the incredible queer black artist that bequeathed so much to the explosive Little Richard.

10. Brandy Clark Gets Personal

Olivia Ladd, 8/25/20

Obviously Brandy was a big “get” for us and I immediately thought of Olivia, a fine writer I’d been wanting to work with. She nailed it – including a scoop on a Brandy/Brandi collab.

9. Ellen Angelico’s Feeling Lucky

Mya Byrne, 7/10/20

Edited with Afterlight

Get lost in this virtual kaffeeklatsch between two hotshot trans guitarslingers as they dish on Nashville, gear, and “the best music store in the world.”

8. Revisiting the Devil with Sarah Shook

Cindy Emch, 5/22/20

Sarah Shook

Your love for Sarah was evident from all the attention you gave to this interview Cindy did with her on the occasion of the reissue of her first record.

7. Ryan Cassata: Making Breakthroughs

Mya Byrne, 8/18/20

Mya spoke with young trans sensation Ryan Cassata for this piece that included an exclusive video and photo shoot – featuring a CQ hat!

6. Trans Country Artists You Need to Know

Mya Byrne, 7/8/20

Mya Byrne

Mya dug up a passel of trans country and Americana artists, and in the process, really opened a lot of eyes and hearts.

5. Black, Queer, and Hella Country

Cindy Emch, 1/21/20

We’ve always been on the lookout for BIPoC in the queer country field, and Cindy put together this list of some truly fine ones.

4. Aaron Lee Tasjan: The Americana RuPaul?

Dale Geist, 11/6/19

This was my first interview since dropping out of J-school decades ago, and I was damn nervous. Aaron couldn’t have been more of a sweetheart; you’ll dig his warmhearted, whimsical take on music, life, and fashion.

3. Non-Binary Artists You Need to Hear

Sydney Miller, 8/12/20

Syd came through with this list of powerful music by folks who simply refuse to recognize the gender binary.

2. Jaimee Harris: Strong, Badass, & Vulnerable

Cindy Emch, 1/6/20

Jaimee Harris – photo by Brandon Aguilar

Y’all love you some Jaimee Harris, and this probing chat reveals an emerging artist who has been through some shit and has managed to retain her essential sweetness and curiosity.

1. Queering the Country Crooner

Steacy Easton, 9/15/19

Orville Peck, Stephin Merritt, Hank Pine

It’s not even close. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s well-loved by Google, has been included in a syllabus, or is simply passed around by Peck-heads, but this heady little piece by the formidable Steacy Easton has been a mainstay of the site since its publication just under a year ago.