Review: These C*cksucking Tears the first openly gay country record published in 1973

When struggling country singer Patrick Haggerty first formed Lavender Country and put out a self-titled album in 1973, less than 1,000 copies were sold. Billed as the first openly gay country record, the tracks fought back against homophobic rhetoric and had titles like “Back in the Closet Again” and “Cryin’ These C—sucking Tears.” Calling the collection ahead of its times was an understatement.

Haggerty was born on September 27, 1944 and raised on a dairy farm near Port Angeles, Washington. After college he joined the Peace Corps, but was discharged in 1966 for being gay.  He later became an artist and an activist with the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front after moving to Seattle to pursue graduate studies at the University of Washington.

In 2000 the album was reissued with three new recordings, and in 2014 it was given a massive push when Nashville-based label Paradise of Bachelors rereleased the collection. “Cryin’ These C—sucking Tears” turned into a cult hit with critics and country fans, and in 2016  Haggerty played multiple sets to rabid fans thrilled by the chance to sing out vintage lyrics like, “Waking up to say hip hip hooray, I’m glad I’m gay/ Can’t repress my happiness ever since I tried your way.”

Haggerty hopes to release another album under the Lavender Country moniker, sometime in 2017 or 2018. “The struggle for racial equality, for women’s equality, for transgender equality has become more intense, more significant than the struggle for gay rights. It’s time for us to support them.” He says he has an album about racial injustices half written. “I stumble with the idea, but in a lot of ways it’s put me in the same place emotionally that I was in when I wrote Lavender Country. I don’t know whether I’ll pull it off, but that’s where I’m headed.”