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By Billboard

On Sunday night, country star Kacey Musgraves took home the coveted album of the year prize at the 61st annual Grammy Awards for her fourth studio album Golden Hour. In her speech, Musgraves thanked her husband and her fans for their support and sent out a message to her fellow nominated artists: “Winning this doesn't make my album any better than anyone else's."

Musgraves’ victory is especially underlined by her ardent love and support for the LGBTQ community. While many other country artists avoid speaking about the community altogether, Musgraves has spent much of her career sending love and positivity to her queer fans.

In honor of her major win, here are six times Kacey Musgraves proved herself as an LGBTQ ally.

She encouraged her fans to “Follow Your Arrow”

When Musgraves exploded onto the scene back in 2013 with Same Trailer, Different Park, the album's breakout hit was “Follow Your Arrow,” a country anthem about being true to yourself despite others’ perceptions. While other artists in various different genres would merely hint at messages of inclusion, Musgraves stunned the world with a straightforward message of support for the LGBTQ community, as she sang “Kiss lots of boys/ Or kiss lots of girls if that’s somethin’ you’re into.” While that feat may seem small, for Musgraves to put such a positive LGBTQ message in a country song was considered scandalous at the time -- and one that tanked its performance at country radio. Needless to say, we’re happy she took the risk.

She’s “pissed” that country music isn’t more inclusive

Even outside of her music, Musgraves has been extremely vocal about supporting the LGBTQ community despite the industry’s expectations of her. During an event at the 2018 New Yorker Festival, one of the star’s fans asked her how she felt about being a gay icon in country. After saying how flattered she was, Musgraves took the opportunity to talk about the country music scene’s complete lack of inclusivity for LGBTQ fans. “It’s crazy that a certain kind of a person could feel excluded from a genre that’s so real -- or supposed to be so real,” she said. “That has always really pissed me off. Because I love the genre so much, I felt, ‘Well fine, maybe I’ll just have an all-gay audience.’”

She doesn’t shy away from her less-tolerant past

Many other artists in Musgraves’ position will simply assume their status as Gay Icon™ and leave it there. But the singer makes it a point to regularly speak about how she was not always a tolerant person. In her love letter to the LGBTQ community she wrote for Billboard, Musgraves opened up about the fact that she used to have a negative view of homosexuality, before a close friend came out to her. “Becoming an adult is shedding the outlook of whoever you were around in your formidable years and forming opinions of your own through experience,” she wrote. “His bravery and honesty completely changed the way that I'd thought I viewed the entire subject.”

She regularly works with queer country musicians

Part of being an ally is working with and promoting the work of those you are supporting. Musgraves does just that. On her first two albums, Same Trailer, Different Park and Pageant Material, the star worked with out country singer and songwriter Shane McAnally, who produced and wrote for both projects (he also helped write “Space Cowboy” and “Rainbow” from Golden Hour). On “Follow Your Arrow,” Musgraves teamed up with out country singer Brandy Clark.

She’s a big fan of Drag Race and Trixie Mattel

One of the queer artists that Musgraves has expressed her love for before is drag star Trixie Mattel, who showed the world her prowess at writing country music with her albums Two Birds and One Stone. In an interview with GQ, Musgraves even went as far as to say that she would love to work with Mattel, either in a song or music video, since she found her “amazing.” This admission would prove fruitful for Musgraves, since she later found herself working as a guest judge on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 4.

She communicated directly with her queer fans on “Rainbow”

If “Follow Your Arrow” was a signal of support to Musgraves’ LGBTQ fans, then “Rainbow” was an eloquent love letter. The song’s lyrics display Musgraves’ understanding of the oppression queer people face, while also offering up a strong sense of support. The song’s new video shows an almost-angelic Musgraves helping a queer teenager in their coming-out process. Even in a recent interview with Taste of Country, Musgraves made it unequivocally clear that the song was meant as an anthem of hope for her queer fans. “I feel a kinship and a friendship with that community,” she said. “They really opened my eyes up to a lot of different things that I wasn't aware of growing up in a small town in Texas. I will always be an ally and a strong supporter.”

2019 Grammy Awards

Billboard

Billboard is the world's most influential music media brand reaching key executives and tastemakers in and around the music business through Billboard Magazine, Billboard.biz, Billboard Conferences, Billboard Bulletin, and other targeted newsletters,...

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