The recipe for a country music song, according to Kansas-born artist Chris Housman, is three chords and the truth. “I’m not gonna write three chords and a lie. I’m gonna write what nobody else is writing,” he tells VICE.
As an openly gay musician raised in a county where the closest queer bar was nearly three hours away by car, Housman had few role models to turn to in the pop-country scene as a child. It was only years after college, working a desk job and listening to song after song about beer and trucks, that he felt ready to carve out a unique space for himself in the genre. “My sexuality is not political, my sexuality is who I am. That’s what’s in my music,” he says.
And evidently, people are listening: In 2021, the artist’s single “Blueneck” — a play on the term ‘redneck’ — went viral on TikTok, before reaching number one on iTunes’ country chart.
Of course, Housman is hardly the first queer-identifying artist to revolutionize the music industry. In fact, for centuries, basement shows, clubs, concerts, and performance venues have been celebrated safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folks across the nation — and music as we know it is built, in so many ways, on the output of queer artists.
“When people listen to my music, I want them to be like, This slaps, — and I want them to know that a fucking Black trans woman made it,” says Archangel, the non-binary artist behind roving queer showcase, Body Hack. “That's why I'm a musician in general. I want to be able to pick and choose who I'm around, who I'm supporting, what I'm able to do.”
In that spirit, VICE News teamed up with ABSOLUTⓇ to produce Out Loud, a documentary film celebrating queer, trans, and non-binary artists changing (and bettering) the face of the music industry. Featuring Big Freedia, the unofficial ambassador of New Orleans Bounce music (most recently known for her feature on Beyoncé’s Grammy-winning single, “Break My Soul”) and MK xyz, a half-Black, half-Filipino R&B singer based in Atlanta — alongside Housman and Archangel — the doc is an homage to the future of music, and the voices helping to usher it into reality. Catch the full-length feature above.
Supported by ABSOLUTⓇ. VICE News retains editorial autonomy
Watch the full length feature above or catch it on VICE TV on June 15th @ 11pm, June 17 @ 4pm, or June 23 @ 1pm.