This year’s recipient of GLAAD’s Vanguard Award is country music star Kacey Musgraves. Kacey has demonstrated true allyship and support for the community since the start of her career. Each year, GLAAD presents this honor at the GLAAD Media Awards to someone who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. Past recipients of this award include Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Britney Spears, and Demi Lovato.
The country music scene hasn’t always been a space where LGBTQ people could feel seen, let alone celebrated. Here’s how Kacey Musgraves is changing that.
Since the early stages of her career, Kacey has been an outspoken ally. In 2013, her debut album “Same Trailer Different Park” featured the smash hit “Follow Your Arrow.” With the lyrics “make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into … just follow your arrow wherever it points,” the song quickly became a gay anthem. Musgraves revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that her label warned her not to keep those lyrics in the song as she would “go down in flames,” but this didn’t stop her. Kacey went on to perform “Follow Your Arrow” at the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards in New York, becoming the first country music artist to perform at the ceremony.
As a longtime fan and proud supporter of the drag community, in 2018 Kacey Musgraves appeared as a guest judge on Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars season 4. “Hanging out with the queens of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ and learning their tricks, getting to spill the tea with them, and just have fun, it was a dream come true. … The world would be so boring if we didn’t have drag queens, I think.” Kacey told Associated Press. Following this, she invited winners Monét X Change and Trinity the Tuck, to join her onstage to perform “High Horse,” at the Los Angeles stop of her Oh, What A World tour.
This wasn’t the only time Kacey used her platform to uplift LGBTQ artists. She has also collaborated with artists such as Troye Sivan in a rerelease of his single Easy, as well as queer artists MUNA and King Princess, who she is touring with this year. She featured LGBTQ artists in starcrossed: the film, such as RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 winner Symone, comedian Meg Stalter, and rapper Princess Nokia.
Her allyship extends far beyond her music. In 2017, Kacey Musgraves teamed with Billboard’s Pride Month campaign, to write a love letter to the LGBTQ Community. In the letter she was open and honest about her less than progressive upbringing in rural Texas. She proved that it is possible to grow and change and to hold yourself accountable. In the letter, she wrote, “to my friends in the LGBTQ community: thank you. While the career stuff is great, it’s fleeting. You changed me as a human.”
Kacey has never been afraid to use her platform to speak out on important issues. In 2020, leading up to the presidential election, Kacey tweeted her opposition to those casting their vote for Donald Trump.
To each their own but know what your vote means. pic.twitter.com/4T7OWmbtqS
— K A C E Y (@KaceyMusgraves) August 29, 2020
She consistently uses her Twitter to promote inclusivity and acceptance for LGBTQ people. She once wished her fans a happy Coming Out Day by writing a heartfelt message reminding people: “there’s no timeline for finding the confidence to be your true self.”
Kacey has always shown her appreciation for her LGBTQ audience. At the 2018 New Yorker Festival, while discussing the topic of country-music’s non-inclusiveness, Musgraves stated, “That has always really pissed me off. Because I love the genre so much.” She revealed that she would rather “just have an all-gay audience” than compromise her beliefs. She has spoken out both online and onstage against the anti-LGBTQ laws currently plaguing the United States.
In 2019, The Country Music Association award for Music Video of the Year went to Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow.” The song and its music video have been called “An Ode to Queer Youth” by The Advocate. The video follows a young gay man’s struggle of not being accepted by his parents. With vivid rainbow imagery and lyrics promoting self-acceptance, the song holds a special place in the hearts of queer people worldwide.
Six-time Grammy winner and one of Time’s Women of the Year, Kacey Musgraves is a powerful force. A voice like hers promoting acceptance and equality is so valuable to the community.
On Musgrave’s outstanding legacy as an ally, GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stated: “From speaking out against anti-LGBTQ legislation in her home state of Texas, to raising awareness about bullying affecting LGBTQ youth, to uplifting the work of LGBTQ artists, Kacey continues to raise the bar for what it means to be an authentic ally and to inspire her fans to do the same.”
The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominees were published, released, or broadcast between January 1 and December 31, 2021. The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies, which fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance, will be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and in New York at the Hilton Midtown on Friday, May 6, 2022. To purchase tickets for the ceremonies, click here. You can keep up with the latest developments by following GLAAD on Twitter and Instagram.