We often watch or read about artists receiving awards for their music and touring success, but we don’t often hear their humanitarian and philanthropic efforts unless they’re doing a fund- raiser. However, Jennifer Nettles, a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community, has just been honored as the Human Rights Campaign Ally for Equity during a Nashville event, and her speech is worth hearing.
She begins by thanking important people in the audience, including her parents. She also thanks her manager, her publicist, her personal assistant and her college roommate who she points out are all gay.
Jennifer continues by explaining that while dualities are a basic way to grasp the world and to teach children, that when it comes to complex issues that often face adults, it doesn’t necessarily encourage comprehensive understanding. She goes on to explain that is the role that art plays.
“Art is all about the space between these descriptive opposites. Art becomes the and, the or, the conjunction. It becomes the bridge. It reminds us that between birth and death is a bridge called ‘life.’ Between right and wrong, there is a bridge called ‘grace.’ Between white, which is the absence of color, or black, which is every reflected at once, there is not just gray but a dazzling bridge called a ‘rainbow.’ And that between gay and straight, is a bridge called, ‘if you’re even worried about what this is called it’s because you want to judge someone because of their sexuality which means you’re basic, so thank you, next.’”
The singer, songwriter, and actress then issues an impassioned plea to her friends in country music.
She says, “ I want to encourage all of my peers, all of my open-hearted, inclusive peers and friends in the country genre to let their hearts and voices be heard in support of the LGBTQ community. And the thing is, it doesn’t have to be politically-charged or finger-pointing or basic in naming rights and wrongs. It can be simply sharing what you feel like in a song like ‘Girl Crush’ that offered a homo-erotic winky face and caused people to think and to talk. Or like Carrie Underwood’s latest ‘Love Wins’ Instagram campaign that shows a gay couple. Or a song like ‘Tony,’ that we played on tour this summer in Sugarland that tells the story of a young gay man. It can be as simple as making it known on your socials that your tours are inclusive environments where everyone of every color, religion, love orientation or gender identification is welcomed. I cannot tell you when we started playing ‘Tony,’ the number of beautiful meet-and- greet testimonials we received from gay fans sharing how happy they were to feel seen and represented and welcomed within the country community. It could be as easy as doing an interview with a gay publication and sharing your own connection to the LGBTQ community. Write a song about love and have the gay community represented in the video. Be the bridge or sing the song that is the bridge that says love is love and all are welcome.”
According to its website, the Human Rights Campaign is an organization that advocates on
behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights. They are the largest
community of LGBTQ individuals in the