Dear Kacey Musgraves,
First off let me say that you have no idea who I am and will probably never know who I am, and I’m okay with that (although you have favorited a few of my tweets, which has always made me happy). What I do want you to know, though, is how much of an impact you’ve had on my life. So let’s start from the very beginning.
As a kid growing up, I always knew I was different. In elementary school I would hardly go out and get dirty with the other boys in my class during recess. Instead, I would hang out with my girl friends and play foursquare, hopscotch, or even jump rope. In middle school I went through a pop phase where Britney, Christina, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys would constantly play on my stereo rather than the male artists I was supposed to like. Then moving into high school, I was never interested in having a girlfriend or asking girls out on dates. Yes, I was definitely different than the other “normal” kids.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I realized what was different about me. While the rest of the guys in school were off talking about girls and activities they’ve engaged in, I was always stuck in the corner trying my hardest to avoid bringing any attention to me. That’s when I realized what was different about me. I was different than the other boys because I happened to like boys. Yes, it was then that I realized I’m gay.
Dealing with that realization is something that I’ve never talked about. Coming to that conclusion, I immediately began thinking that being different was “wrong”…I wasn’t allowed to be that way. Immediately I began trying to be “normal.” I would ask girls out on dates (though I was usually rejected) and I would even lie to family members and say that I was going out with someone. I tried my hardest to mask my true identity. I spent many nights praying over and over in my head that I would change. Every night I would pray to just magically wake up and be attracted to girls so I could be normal. It never happened.
So on one night in July of 2012, after I came to terms with the truth, I sat my parents down and told them what I had known for years. It was one of the most heart wrenching and emotional moments of my life. The fear of being rejected by my parents was weighing heavily on my mind. What would they do if they were told they have a gay child? The worst thoughts flooded my mind. But through tears I mustered up the courage to utter those extremely difficult words: “I’m gay.” Thankfully, their reaction was one of love and support. It was then I knew the hardest part was behind me. However, I still couldn’t help but feel heartbroken by the fact that I’m gay.
The most heartbreaking part was the fact that I would most likely never be able to achieve my goal of working in the country music industry. Part of me was obsessed with being “normal” so that I would still be able to move to Nashville and have my dream career within the industry that I am so passionate about. But it was always burned in my mind that country music hates gay people.
Fast forward to March 19, 2013 when a gorgeous Texan’s (that’s you, Kacey) debut album was available in stores. That day I walked into Wal-Mart and bought the album and immediately began listening to it. The most brilliant music filled my ears and stirred up many emotions. It wasn’t until I reached track number eleven that I was moved to tears.
I was still so confused about what I was going to do with a degree in Music Business, especially since I was only pursuing the degree to work in country music. The thought of country music being “anti-gay” still tore my heart in two. I was definitely lost. During times of haziness I would always turn to country music for help and therapy. I could always find a song that would help me through any situation. But because country music is forbidden from talking about being gay or different, I didn’t have that one song.
With all those thoughts weighing heavily upon my shoulders, I listened to track number eleven. Immediately, I felt like it was God’s answer to all my problems. It provided the reassurance that I so desperately needed that there is hope of gay acceptance in country music. I was finally gifted with that one song that would help me find myself and regain clarity in my life. It also encouraged me to simply follow my arrow.
“Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into, when the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint, or don’t, and follow your arrow wherever it points, yea follow your arrow wherever it points…Say what you think, love who you love, because you just get so many trips around the sun, yeah you only, only live once”
The lines spoke directly to my heart and immediately I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. After hearing the song, I quickly looked at who helped write the song to find out it was you, Brandy Clark, and Shane McAnally. Realizing that McAnally was responsible for writing some of the biggest country music songs and is a gay man himself offered me the encouragement that there is hope for me in country music.
So if you’ve managed to make it this far in this open letter, then let me take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you, Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, and Shane McAnally, for breathing life back into my sails. Thank you for allowing me to accept that it is okay to be different. Thank you for giving me hope that, yes, I can be gay and work in country music. Thank you for being pioneers in the evolvement of country music to a more accepting genre. Thank you, quite simply, for giving me the confidence and positive energy to continue the pursuit of my dreams. Thank you for “Follow Your Arrow.”
Sincerely one of your biggest fans and advocates,