Lavender Country: A saint of a father for a country sissy

I haven’t posted anything about it yet on this site, but if you follow me on Facebook you may have read that I’m now writing music stories for Cityview. It’s not a full-time gig like the Register was, just two (or so) interviews a month, along with two CD reviews.

I’ve had a few of those interviews run in print/post to Cityview’s site already, but the very first interview I did for Cityview was with Patrick Haggerty of Lavender Country. They’re one of the headlining acts at this year’s Maximum Ames Music Festival. They’re also notable for being probably the first gay country band. This was back in the early 70s, when a few rock acts were starting to be a bit coy with their sexuality.

There was nothing coy about Haggerty and Lonesome Country. One of their most notable songs is “Cryin’ These Cocksucking Tears.”

But what made me want to interview Haggerty was a StoryCorps piece Haggerty did, talking about his father’s acceptance of his homosexuality. His father was a farmer in the 1950s. I knew plenty of kids in the 90s who were afraid to come out to their parents. I can’t imagine what that would have felt like in the 50s.

I asked Haggerty if his father ever got to hear Lavender Country’s music, but he passed away just a few years after that story happened.

“I never dreamt that my dad would be able to come along on this journey with me. But he is coming along, he deserves to come along. He was a saint of a father for a country sissy. He really was. There wouldn’t be a Lavender Country without my father. The short answer is I made Lavender Country because my dad said I could. He said I could sing show tunes, so I did.

“It wasn’t like ‘He loved me anyway.’ He saw that in me and he loved me in a special way, in that sissy spot. I got an extra dose of him because of that.

“The interesting part of my dad story is I didn’t get it. I was isolated with him on the farm. I didn’t understand how the rest of the world operated. I assumed most dads treated kids like he treated me. Then I got out in the adult world and started talking to other gay men in the 1970s, about the relationships they had with their fathers. A gay son and a father in rural 1955, normally you would be talking about a heap of pain and tears. That’s the reality

“But I escaped. My father protected me from all of it. He protected me so graciously. I had no idea he was exceptional until he was in the grave. My father saw who he was dealing with, very clearly, and went out of his way in terms of the cultural norm to respect me.”


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