Cover Image: Queer Country

Queer Country

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Member Reviews

When I read the title and requested the book, I don't think I was ready for the long musical journey it took me on.
I did know it was non-fiction, but my perception was that it was more towards being queer in a country instead of you know, queer country music. But I did enjoy the vast knowledge of the music.
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Very exciting! Country is a genre typically not associated with LGBTQ people because so many of its artists tend to fall more Republican. Regardless, there's a history here that needed to be told, and this book accomplished that. Satisfying and interesting read.
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This novel was very theory intensive at first but also had such well researched artists and interviews. I really got to know some of these artists I had never heard of before. Really great book to learn about more queer artists and the relationship of queer people, racism and country music. Race, homophobia and the patriarchy were tied together for most of the issues seen in this genre that is sort of known for ostracization. You can tell the author is very passionate about this novel/subject and I appreciated all of the amazing details throughout the novel.
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This book provides a new way of understanding country music and the role of the queer community within that sphere.  I recommend this book.
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This book is likely going to be the nearest and dearest to my heart non-fiction book I read this year. Goldin-Perschbacher does a beautiful job of describing the current state of country music and how queer identities and community have found their beautiful niche within the genre. As a queer person who generally quite enjoys country and folk music (and has a lot of issues with the misogyny, racism, homophobia, and jingoism that has become more of a mainstream within the genre) reading this book was like a breath of fresh air and a warm hug. It looked me dead in the eye and said, you belong in this community, there are others like you, and we love you.

Overall, it was an excellent analysis of current popular queer country icons and queer country music's history using a variety of sources from the music itself, interviews, and scholarly resources. The book itself is an invaluable source, but I am also excited to delve into the huge bibliography and other sources in the back of the book as well! 

I cannot recommend this book enough to those who love country music, want to explore queer music history, and queer identity and community.  

Thank you so much to Netgalley and the University of Illinois Press for the e-ARC. I loved this book so much I ended up buying myself a physical copy.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review..

If a nonfiction book can make you cry then you know you have hit the jackpot! This book spoke to my little southern, queer soul and I am so grateful to the author for exploring this slice of history. As someone who grew up in the south listening to pretty much only country music until I became a teenager, when I tried to distance myself from country music and its associated culture as I discovered my identity was not always welcome, before coming back to loving country music only once I finally moved away from the south completely- this book hit home sooooo hard for me. 

The main thing to take away from this book is that queer people have a place in country music, and we have always been there and belong there even if we have not been publicly visible in that space for various reasons in the past. Discovering queer country artists that have dealt with this and that sing about it was such a healing experience for me. I had literally never heard queer country music before, and now I have loads of new artists to listen to and such a sustained hope for the future. Music recommendations were a hugeeee takeaway from this book!

Most of this book is quite academic, and the author traces the history of queerness in country music from the first underground, specifically gay country album (Lavender Country) in the 1970s, to the turn of the century when more artists were beginning to publicly come out, to modern-day queer country superstars like Lil Nas X and country artist/drag queen Trixie Mattel. Issues with record labels and individual artists' struggles with their public image in an often homophobic industry are also well documented. The author also intentionally studies the role of Black and trans artists in country music's history, not just white cis gay artists.

One of the main points brought up in this book is the issue of "genre trouble" often coinciding with queer country artists, because they struggle to be classified as "country music," due to the stereotypes of this industry as being for a more conservative audience. Many queer country artists have thus stepped into other genres as well that might be more traditionally accepting. I really liked the author's explorations of all different types of country-associated music by the queer artists in this book.

Overall this was an incredibly healing experience for me to read this book, and I not only gained a truckload of new music recommendations, but I feel like country music is once again a space I can belong in and enjoy, and there are not enough words to express how much that means to me!
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I was excited to read this book, not only am I a proud mother of a daughter who is a lesbian but also a musician. Having read this book I kept waiting to get to the part with Natalie from the Dixie chicks I really loved her music and I both said that her comments in France I didn’t think it took away from her talent, but sadly she was left to the footnotes. No that’s not to say this wasn’t a good book it was but the thing that struck me as ironic is that on one hand the author says people from the ally community identify with country music and then on the other hand she says they’re not represented in country music . Now they have a lot and I mean a lot of great LGBTQ people in folk music which is similar to country and why someone would be so insistent to be a part of a group that clearly wants to be left The way they are is beyond me. I mean the whole definition of country music is homegrown love your mama love your dog drive your truck drink beer and watch the women dance on A tractor and you want to be a part of this community… Why? If I wasn’t heterosexual the last group I would want to be a part of it is country music and I love country music. To me this is almost like boy George getting upset because the proud boys won’t let him be a member. Because again why would you want to? Also don’t people have the right to assembly? I mean it’s in the constitution you could hang out with those you want to and you won’t be forced to hang out with people you don’t. I understand everyone wants a voice and everyone deserves one and kudos to all these great LGBTQ people who are coming forward taking crap from idiots who think being that way is all about sex and has nothing to do with love and wanting to feel connected to someone, but come on country? That is so steeped in tradition and it’s mainly Republican… The LGBTQ or the most imaginative talented group of people… Make your own brand of music. This was a great book and I now have a whole new playlist on Spotify because of it and I think if they want to be a part of country music then I will totally support that, but I don’t at all understand it. I was given this book by net Galley and the publisher and I’m leaving this review voluntarily please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review but all opinions are definitely my own. #QueerCountry, #LGBTQPlus, #NetGalleyShelf
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I have been waiting for my favorite genre of music— Queer Country— to get the rigorous academic treatment, and Shana Goldin-Preschbacher absolutely delivered. There are a lot of explainers and primers on this genre out there, but Goldin-Preschbacher goes in for the ethnography, the history, and the beautiful ways that these two seemingly at-odds communities intersect and interact in the most natural ways. 

Beginning with a linguistic analysis of the words ‘gender’ and ‘genre,’ the author leaves no assumptions uncovered and no fertile ground for discourse untilled. Country music’s history as the music of the marginalized is actually what made me come to love country in the recent years. Learning that it isn’t all love songs of white men to pickup trucks drew me in. While obviously spending time writing about LGBTQ+ artists, the author also made sure to center the stories and work of Black musicians and artists as well, treating all with the scholarly writing that many other topics have been getting for years. 

While the tone is academic, and therefore not the warm and anecdotal book that I hope does come out some day soon about LGBTQ+ country music, I felt that this treatment solidified the genre in the musical canon. By being a piece of academic text, Queer Country has a history and a lineage that is indisputable and there is a method of analysis that can be used for other forms of art. 

I’ve turned back to Queer Country many times since initially picking it up a few months ago, both because I wanted to take the time to read through it thoughtfully, but more often than not because I wanted new music to listen to, and if nothing else this book has inspired me to create a whole new playlist of music to explore. 


Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC and the opportunity to read and provide an honest review.
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Delighted to include this title in ‘The Rainbow Connection,’ my latest round-up for Zoomer magazine’s Books section highlighting new and notable books for Pride (see mini-review at link)
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This fantastic book is well researched (with the notes to prove it) and has a must-listen discography.

Throw out whatever it is you think you know about country music. The South may say the Opry is the only real country, but the amazing artists, songwriters, and visionaries showcased in this book would beg to differ.

The author begins with the premise thst country is 'a genre in which honest communication is expected and songs represent real people, places, experiences and values." (38) In fact, through interviews with very real country artists, the author confirms that queer folx do in fact make country music greater, richer, and fuller than ever.

Country artist Rae Spoon writes, in the song "Cowboy":

"I wanted you to think I was a cowboy 
So I told you where I was from
But all I ever did was run from trucks
And I never held a gun" (65).

The author shares insight into the lives and lyrics of many queer country artists, each with different experiences that make the country music patchwork quilt so varied and beautiful. 

"I'd trade it all for some Southern hospitality 
I know that you don't like me
But it feels good anyway" (Amy Ray, 125)

Country music, with its rich history and storytelling tradition, is here to stay, thankfully with queer voices becoming more recognized. Artist Amythyst Kiah shares, "I've prided myself on writing songs which anybody can relate to. It was really eye-opening and very empowering to know that." (195)

Important voices to hear, and an important story to read, especially during Pride.
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I thought the theme was fantastic and the writing was super engaging. I feel like I learned a lot I didn't previously know. However, I do wish there were more paragraph breaks because I was often overwhelmed by sheer amounts of text at once.
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Thanks to NetGalley and University of Illinois Press for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Queer Country by Shana Goldin-Perschbacher covers the history of LGBTQ+ country artists. An academic review of these artists and their work, I found myself learning a lot about acts I'd never heard of before. While I knew some, especially modern artists like Orville Peck and Brandi Carlile, finding out about Lavender Country and previously blacklisted artists was super interesting. 

As soon as I'd finished this book, I started looking up the artists mentioned. I'm very grateful this book exists to teach readers about the history of queer country.
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As a gay woman myself, I whole-heartedly agree with Orville Peck's opinion which is quoted inside: "I'm surprised more gay people don't feel connected to country music."
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Queer County is a fantastic book. It is incredibly validating for rural queer people who love country and is a great primer to share with those looking to explore queerness, country, and the history that has lead to the popularization of acts like Trixie Mattel, Orville Peck, and Lil Nas X. It is striking in its sincerity and very well researched - a culmination of passion and dedication leading to a book that is academically sound and personally fulfilling. 
Absolutely worth a read regardless of your opinion on country music. I will be purchasing a copy this week (now that the book is officially available) so I can so I can continue to reread and revisit my favorite sections. Thank you so much Dr. Shana Goldin-Perschbacher for your continuing dedication to queer andf trans identities in folk and country (and many other genre) spaces! I look forward to everything you write.
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Thanks to #NetGalley for the ARC. 
Going into this I wasn’t sure how academic Queer Country would be, but it was a very smooth read than was academic in a way that I understood. The inclusion of photos was a nice touch that helped me get a bit more familiar with the artists. I really appreciated the focus on trans identified artists and not just the LGB artists.
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A good overview of the topic! The writing was very accessible and while the writer did often focus on what was happening within the last few years in country music, there was also attention paid to far earlier days of country as well as artists in the 80s and 90s. I'd recommend this one to anyone looking to expand their knowledge about queer music, country music, or just music in general as this particular topic has not been extensively covered.
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When I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia, listening to country was my own rebellion. It's funny, of course, now that I live in a rural area where everyone listened to country growing up because they roll their eyes over it. But anyway... this book was INCREDIBLE and VALIDATING as a queer millennial.
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Really engaging history on lgbtq musicians in country history. It is a academic text, and I will admit to being comfortable with reading that style of literature, but I do think that the author did a good job on making sure that the text was written in as much as an accessible language as possible.
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In the book Goldin-Perschbacher states that 

Queer Country shares that capacity for creating a radical shared space amid continued misunderstanding and exclusion, summoning useful, inspiring elements of a long history of music while creatively changing or omitting others, navigating the inner tensions between authenticity and invention with both the urgent need to be understood as human and share humour with kin, engaging its central themes to tell their own stories of self and belonging

This is something the text achieves writing a strong analysis of the queer country and surrounding genres, told with love, care, and respect. This is something that Goldin-Perschbacher has clearly highly researched and intimately studied. It would be impossible for her to write about every queer country artist but she covers a wide scope and has consulted with many of them in writing this book. A book for country lovers who want to learn something more about their history.  (Also I need to make a playlist for the acts covered in this I need to hear their songs !)
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Thanks to #NetGalley for the ARC.  As a queer identified fan of mainstream country music, I was excited to delve into this book by Shana Goldin-Perschbacher.  As she notes in the introduction and elsewhere, the appeal of country music broadly is the storytelling, addressing issues and everyday concerns of working class and middle class people.  Because the industry markets the music to a more conservative base population, it can be surprising to hear that queer listeners consume, enjoy, and seek out country music, much less write and perform it.  Despite being both queer and trans (a distinction the author hammers on repeatedly in the book though I didn’t grasp it even after she explained), country music remains the music I most often have on in the car, most closely identify with emotionally, and most often purchase whether through downloads or concert tickets.  It’s the music that connects me to my father and the places I grew up and it grounds me here in the bay area where there is so much wealth that even my solidly middle class salary feels like the precipice of poverty.  The country music connection is emotional and I looked forward to reading about other fans in the LGBTQI+ world who felt a similar connection to country music.  That's not quite what I found.

Goldin-Perschbacher delivered Queer Country with a scholarly voice.  This initially disappointed because I soon realized that that warm connection to other queer country music afficionados was not going to be my reading experience.  While she expresses her personal appreciation of the music, and indeed seemed to find more connection to it the longer she engaged with her subjects, Queer Country never escapes the formality of a scholarly structure: clear thesis with an abundance of research and literature referenced to support the author's assertions.  The tone is always unbiased and always unemotional.  While I am sure Goldin-Perschbacher is a warm person, and indeed clearly gained the confidence of the handful of queer and trans musicians actively performing and producing country music – many of whom appeared to provide several interviews – no “personality” came through the scholar’s voice.  Instead there was a persistent feeling of author as observer and queer country musicians as the observed, the studied.  However well intentioned, it was disconcerting that the primary feeling I came away with as a queer person and a trans person was that of being studied.

The best part of the book was the introduction to some music and musicians I was not familiar with.  My playlist grew as I read further in the book, particularly with musicians slotted into Roots and Americana genres which I haven’t typically been as drawn to.  The challenges of breaking into mainstream country are enormous for any artist and this book did well articulating the higher hurdles faced by queer musicians.  It was particularly interesting to hear that barriers are mostly enforced by the industry suits and not so much by (straight, cis-gendered) country artists. Sadly, these artists are beholden to the suits for their own opportunities, especially at the start of their career.  The industry reinforces its exclusivity in this manner, ensuring that it maintains its appeal to a politically conservative, white fan base by excluding artists of color, queer musicians and limiting female voices.

A good read and an interesting read but some work to deliver this in less of a scholarly voice would have been welcome by this reader.
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