Kacey Musgraves: ‘I Wasn’t Always So Open-Minded’
Kacey Musgraves has made a name for herself as a world-class singer and songwriter, but she's also well-known as an advocate for populations that are often more vulnerable.
Musgraves' first big single, "Follow Your Arrow," made her views of equality and acceptance known to the masses. "So make lots of noise / Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls / If that's something you're into," she sings during the song's chorus. "When the straight and narrow / Gets a little too straight / Roll up the joint, or don't / Just follow your arrow / Wherever it points."
But the singer says she hasn't always felt the way that she does today, especially when it comes to LGBTQ rights. As part of Gay Pride Month, Musgraves participated in a project with Billboard that asked influential individuals to pen "love letters" to the LGBTQ community. In her letter, Musgraves is honest and open about her upbringing and the journey that ended up changing her mind about the gay community for the better.
"I've not always been the "Follow Your Arrow" girl. It's embarrassing to admit but I wasn't always so open-minded," she writes. "Growing up in rural East Texas I can count on on only a few fingers the amount of interactions I had with anyone gay throughout my entire childhood and most of which was clouded by closed-minded viewpoints and sneers. I love where I came from but the stance on homosexuality is unfortunately still pretty archaic and behind the facts."
Right after high school, one of Musgraves' best friends came out, which she says "completely changed the way that I'd thought I viewed the entire subject," and after moving to Nashville, she got to know more gay people.
"It started to enrage me that I'd had some previous misunderstanding about a group of people that I now love so much and have so much in common with," she writes. "As I got deeper into the country community I realized how many still felt the need to hide their identities. Country music has always been a genre built on songs and stories celebrating real life so I took it upon myself to include my own awakening into my music and knew that I would be taking some heat for it."
"Follow Your Arrow" wasn't a huge hit on country radio, but the track did win Musgraves, along with co-writers Brandy Clark and Shane McAnnally, the Song of the Year title at the 2014 CMA Awards, and the song os No. 39 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time.
""Follow Your Arrow" may have tanked on the country radio chart, but that song specifically has brought so much meaning, happiness, and listeners to my music that may not have been there otherwise," Musgraves says. "So, to my friends in the LGBTQ community: thank you. While the career stuff is great, it's fleeting. You changed me as a human."