Monday, June 04, 2018

Country Music's Embrace of LGBT Rights

June is Pride Month - not that Der Trumpenführer will be signing a declaration as some prior occupants of the White House have done.  The sweet irony is that despite the pandering of the Trump/Pence regime to hand to Christofascists various elements of a too little, too late rear guard action, America is steady becoming more LGBT friendly. As a piece in the New York Times explains, even country music has opened its arms to embrace LGBT rights.  The driving force behind the phenomenon?  Millennials, the majority of whom are LGBT accepting and who play an increasingly important part in the country music audience.  The number of so-called "Nones" who have exited organized religion is steadily increasing, especially among Millennials, and the number of white evangelicals is decreasing.  Like any industry that needs to be mindful of its customers, country music is changing with the times.  Here are article highlights:

Every June, with the arrival of Pride Month, we take time to evaluate legislative actions, court decisions and public opinion shifts as measures of the state of L.G.B.T. rights. . . . . this year, I found perhaps the most significant indicator of the prevailing cultural vibe, to my surprise, in country music.
One of the most popular songs on country radio in 2018 has been Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good.” The song faithfully serves up genre-typical lyrics like “I believe most mommas oughta qualify for sainthood” and “most Friday nights look better under neon or stadium lights” — but the chorus also contains a clear pro-L.G.B.T. declaration: “I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of.” And in case fans were tempted to interpret this lyric in other ways, Mr. Bryan’s music video features gay couples and same-gender parent family configurations among a diverse montage of “good” people.
Rather than generating protests or public outcry, this song has dominated country music radio since its debut in late 2017. It broke into the Top 10 in February, and it has remained at the top of the air wave charts, occupying the No. 1 slot for three weeks. It’s also notable that Mr. Bryan is no progressive crusader out to make a political statement. . . . For Mr. Bryan, and for many country fans today, pro-L.G.B.T. lyrics exist comfortably within a new country worldview.
While “Most People Are Good” was topping the charts, there was another major event in the country-music world signaling strong support for L.G.B.T. rights. In early March, the former Arkansas governor and Trump campaign surrogate Mike Huckabee resigned within 24 hours of his appointment to the board of the Country Music Association Foundation, the charitable and educational arm of the C.M.A. At issue, raised by several C.M.A. board members and prominent industry leaders, was Mr. Huckabee’s history of anti-gay remarks.
Jason Owen, a co-president of Monument Records . . . wrote that Mr. Huckabee’s statements about the L.G.B.T. community, such as comparing gay marriage to incest and polygamy, “made it clear my family is not welcome in his America.” Whitney Pastorek, a longtime C.M.A. member and prominent agent, wrote similarly to the C.M.A. leadership . . . . The C.M.A. board was deluged with email and social media calls to rescind the invitation to Mr. Huckabee and threats of boycotts at C.M.A. events. Mr. Huckabee quickly conceded and resigned, but not without writing his own long protest letter on his website . . .
Part of the story is the growth and increasing crossover appeal of country music . . . Country music is as popular among millennials as it is among baby boomers, a fact not lost on C.M.A. leadership.
A recent large national survey of over 40,000 interviews conducted by P.R.R.I., where I serve as chief executive, provides a stereotype-busting portrait of where likely young country music fans are on L.G.B.T. rights. Among young white, non-Hispanic adults (ages 18 to 29) in the South and Midwest, fully three-quarters (75 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, and a similar percentage favor laws that would protect L.G.B.T. people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.
On a key question currently before the Supreme Court — whether a small-business owner can refuse to provide products or services to gay or lesbian people on religious grounds — young white adults in the South and Midwest oppose such religious liberty claims by two to one (64 percent oppose, 32 percent favor). Even if we narrow the lens to young whites in the four states with the highest concentrations of country music fans — Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky — the numbers are virtually identical.
Pride month will no doubt feature all manner of quantifiable assessments of the current cultural milieu. But by my lights, this revolution on the unlikely terrain of country music is the sturdier evidence of just how much the nation has changed its tune on L.G.B.T. rights.
Trump, Pence and the GOP at large are placing their future with a shrinking demographic which is literally dying off.  Country music and progressives are looking to the future and what will soon be the largest voting/consumer generation. Barring an overthrow of democracy by Der Trumpenführer  and his supporters - one would hope the military would intervene to stop such a move - the Christofascists have lost the culture wars - they just have not realized it. 

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