R.I.P. Patrick Haggerty, Lavender Country Vocalist and Queer Activist Dead at 78

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Patrick Haggerty, lead vocalist and guitarist of the pioneering queer country group Lavender Country, has died. He was 78.

“This morning, we lost a great soul,” read a statement from Lavender Country’s Instagram account October 31st. “RIP Patrick Haggerty. After suffering a stroke several weeks ago, he was able to spend his final days at home surrounded by his kids and lifelong husband, JB. Love, and solidarity.”

Haggerty was born on September 27th, 1944, and raised on a dairy farm outside Port Angeles, Washington. The sixth of ten children, Haggerty has said that his family was very accepting of his sexuality. After a brief stint serving in the Peace Corps, he moved to Seattle, where he quickly immersed himself in the Stonewall-era gay rights movement, joining the local chapter of the Gay Liberation Front.

Haggerty formed Lavender Country in 1972, and their self-titled debut was released the following year by Gay Community Social Services of Seattle. Lavender Country is widely considered to be the first album in country music history by an openly gay artist. The band performed at the inaugural Seattle Pride in 1974, and then began performing at various other LGBTQIA+ events across the West Coast.

Lavender Country disbanded in 1976. Haggerty performed in a number of various other bands, and continued his gay and anti-racist activism throughout his life. He also ran twice for political office: once for Seattle City Council and once as an independent candidate for Washington House of Representatives.

In 1999, the Country Music Hall of Fame recognized Lavender Country for their contribution to the history of country music, sparking a queer country movement that has since welcomed contemporary heavyweights like Lil Nas X, Orville Peck, Trixie Mattel, and Brandi Carlile. Lavender Country received a much-needed reissued in 2014, and in 2016, director Dan Taberski told the story of Haggerty’s life and career in the documentary short These C*cksucking Tears. Haggerty shared the band’s self-released second album Blackberry Rose and Other Songs and Sorrows in 2019, comprising their first new music in almost 50 years. Don Giovanni gave the album a proper full release in February of this year.

Haggerty has two children: Robin, a biological daughter with his lesbian friend Lois Thetford, and an adopted son Amilcar, who was co-parented by Haggerty and his biological mother Linda Navarro. He married his longtime partner Julius “J.B.” Broughton in the mid-2000s.

R.I.P. Patrick Haggerty, Lavender Country Vocalist and Queer Activist Dead at 78
Abby Jones

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