Raleigh, N.C. — In what appears to be a response to the state's controversial House Bill 2, Hopscotch announced Wednesday that Lavender Country, the first openly gay country band, will play the music festival this fall.
Lavender Country will play a rare show at Fletcher Opera Theater on Saturday, Sept. 10. It will be the band's first concert in North Carolina.
The band released what is considered to be the first openly gay country music album in 1973, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The album fought back against homophobia with tracks like "Back in the Closet Again." It struggled for airplay and one Seattle DJ even had her FCC license revoked for playing one of its tracks.
Carrboro-based record label Paradise of Bachelors re-issued it in 2014, exposing it to an entire new set of fans. The album charts songwriter, singer, and guitarist Patrick Haggerty's experiences – from his upbringing in rural Washington to his dismissal from the Peace Corps due to his sexuality.
Haggerty, 71, has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. A documentary about his life earned him honors at South by Southwest last month and he just performed for the first time in Nashville.
House Bill 2, which requires people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender and exclude gay and transgender people from discrimination protections, has come under fire by corporations, celebrities and North Carolina cities.
Hopscotch Music Festival will be held Sept. 8-10 at various venues in downtown Raleigh. The full lineup for this year's festival will be released on May 9. Tickets go on sale May 12 at 10 a.m.