Hoedowns and Same Sex PDA.
Redneck States and Pride Flags.
These are probably things that don’t sound as if they gel particularly well together, if at all.
After all, the overwhelming narrative that comes from country music is that of the Cis gendered, straight, picket fence loving, white man with little room for diversity.
In amongst this, there is a beacon of light, with that being badass country women such as Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert belting out their tunes for our listing pleasure. But even then, they are vastly outnumbered by the cowboys. Female artists often have their songs played less than their male counterparts due to the imbalance of the binary male: female artist ratio.
Songs about sad barstool drinking, having straight sex in the back of truck beds and raising babies in a traditional lifestyle blast through the airwaves of country radio stations in high frequency.
Now, as a country music fan, I am certainly not opposed to the respectful, head over heels traditional songs as a whole, but within the genre, it certainly can’t be said that variety is the spice of life.
And this is where the true problem lies. We simply require more authentic arrays of representation. Anyone who isn’t white, straight or societal norm conforming is seemingly vehemently excluded.
If you take a peek at the vast majority of ballads and longing melodies working their way through the radio speakers, gracing music videos and being belted out at Nashville cornerstones like the Grand Ole Opry, you will find that Queer representation is limited, to say the least.
Where the pond of women’s representation, in general, is still shallow in comparison to the men’s, when we arrive at Queer representation, the waters have been almost completely dried up and vacant for as long as country music has been around. The few people who dared to reveal themselves were pushed into a backseat role as if to hide them from view, and certainly, no one has ever been joyously celebrated in full view.
For so long though, the Queer community has been craving representation and visibility within this genre of music. Hoping for a sacred oasis of sound which resonates with them and their stories. Their love and their dreams reflected at them through the power of country music.
Now, finally, in the year 2021, a long-awaited oasis has mercifully been created.
Changing the tides on the country scene in Nashville is none other than sensation and trailblazer, Brooke Eden. Sending the essential waves of change crashing into country music’ shore, she is on a valiant journey to helping other LGBTQIA+ individuals feel seen, loved and empowered through her music. A colourful, cocktail shaker style mix up has commenced!
Eden, who was already a certified country singer before 2021, has just beautifully and boldly reintroduced herself to the world.
In 2016 she released her debut EP ‘Welcome to the Weekend’, which was a success with steadfast Country fans and casual listeners alike. However, throughout this time in her life, she simply was not being authentic to herself with the content she was putting out into the world. Country music is centred on being real and open, laying hearts at peoples feet and allowing individual authenticity to shine. However, as we all know, being Queer in this harsh world can be extremely difficult and terrifying. As such, Brooke hid her fabulous true colours and incredible love story from the world to protect herself: this is not uncommon in the LGBTQIA+ community in the earlier stages of the Queer experience.
But then, Brooke Eden was given the ultimatum. She could either choose to have love with her long time girlfriend Hilary Hoover or continue with her music career.
She was even disgracefully told that she should keep her relationship hidden. Messages like these are not only harmful but incredibly small-minded, generally stemming from the poisonous weed of fear. This is generally one of the main motivators in situations such as this, and it seems that in Brooke’s case, it was no different. What would people think? Relationships like this just weren’t shown in the country scene.
But after many agonising years and a stress-related health scare due to living unauthentically, Eden stood bold and strong, revealing herself with grace and incredible courage to the world.
In 2020 Eden began slowly sharing photos of herself with Hoover on Instagram, sending her truth out into the world that she was a woman who was in love with another woman. In what will surely become known as an iconic move, in January of this year, Eden announced that she would be releasing a trilogy of Queer songs and accompanying music videos to show the wonder of love between Queer Women on screen. It would be the first, truly loud, proud and colourful display of same-sex love in mainstream country music.
With her energetic and dazzling trilogy of Singles – ‘No Shade’, ‘Sunroof’ and ‘Got No Choice’ (with their undeniable Summer vibes), they are sure to be at the top of both the Summer and Pride Month playlists.
Starring in the sequence of videos alongside Eden is Hoover, where they stroll along sandy beaches holding hands, take a thrilling car ride with the sunroof down and kiss and hold each other with such tenderness; the adoration is crystal clear. It is a fun-filled fiesta, bedazzled with authentic love and superb strength.
In a world and country where LGBTQIA+ people are still harmed and shunned every day, this is a fearless step in the right direction for guiding the genre to an improved destination. A destination where love between same-sex couples and LGBTQIA+ individuals is valued and respected.
In Eden’s case, her move isn’t fearless due to a lack of being afraid, but rather due to the stunning courage which motivated her to dive into the wildflower territory of romantic freedom despite opposition and fear.
Lyrics such as the following from ‘Got No Choice (the 3rd and final song of the trilogy) provide bountiful hope to Queer women, showing both the struggle and the eventual joy, which is both relatable and remarkable in the journey to living openly with self-acceptance…
“But the sound of my name rolling off your tongue
Couldn’t sound sweeter from anyone
This heart wants no one else and I can’t help myself
I, I ain’t got no choice but to love you”
“Hearing gossip from my neighbours
We don’t fit on paper
From the bars to the church crowd
We’re the talk of the whole town”
As the icing on, an already abundant and wonderful cake, comes the news that the fabulous pair are now engaged. After both romantically proposing to each other and exchanging unique stacking rings as physical symbols of their love for each other, they are now officially fiancés.
With glorious photos of the pair available to view both on Instagram and in ‘People Magazine’ for their engagement edit, the representation and jubilation that these two are bringing is spreading in a glittery and far-reaching fashion. They are a true Queer Power couple to represent and empower the community as role models and inspirations. The pair are empowering women who need courage and success stories to look to during the journey on their own potentially rocky roads. The rocky roads to loving themselves and living openly despite fear. At this point, Eden’s music and love story is most certainly a sign which says, ’Let your heart pave your rainbow brick road. A beautiful adventure awaits you!’
This new music is an enchanting and splendid display of the joy which Queer women long for in their own lives. It is a disco ball festival of hope sending the long-awaited message that Queer love can survive and can be celebrated in all of its wonders. It is a dazzling sunrise, a haven for Queer women and the jewel-encrusted dawning of a new era for country music. Out, Loud and Proud love has arrived!
* If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, wherever you are on your personal journey, know that your rainbow heart is a work of art, a mosaic and a kaleidoscope of the most exquisite kind. Be patient and loving with yourself and others. One gorgeous day true love will exist without fear or limits.
To keep up to date with Brooke and Hilary’s amazing journey, follow them on Instagram:
Brooke Eden – @brookeedenmusic
Hilary Hoover – @hilary_hoover
Resources for Help & Further Conversation:
Brooke’s Website = https://www.brookeeden.com
GLAAD Website = https://www.glaad.org
Stonewall Website = https://www.stonewall.org.uk