Kacey Musgraves has said that gay anthem Follow Your Arrow, which kick-started her career, left her feeling guilty.
The Country music star, who released new album Golden Hour today ahead of her world tour, made waves with the 2013 song, which told listeners: “Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls / If that’s something you’re into.”
It was crowned Song of the Year at the 2014 Country Music Awards, and attracted a whole new generation of fans who suddenly felt seen and accepted.
But the singer has confessed that she used to join in with homophobic bullying when she was young.
Country music has a long history of anti-gay sentiment, which is bucked by only a brave few, like Country Music Television and iHeartRadio host Cody Alan, who came out last year.
And Musgraves, who comes from the tiny village of Golden, Texas, told Billboard: “At 18, I was a lot more redneck than I am now.
“I think back to who I was then: being in a small-town high school and seeing a gay guy get made fun of, I’d like, laugh along and not really think much about it.”
She said that when a loved one revealed their sexuality to her, her way of thinking shifted.
“A best friend came out to me right after high school,” said Musgraves, “and that’s when I started getting it – my perspective completely changed.
“Moving to Nashville, I started hanging out at this gay club called Play all the time, and I made so many friends.”
The chart-topping artist said she regretted the way she acted when she was a teenager.
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“It really hurt my heart that I had ever even been close to being the opposite of that,” she said.
“I met Shane [McAnally] and Brandy Clark, we ended up writing Follow Your Arrow, and it became this unintentional anthem.
“It was really redeeming for me, because I come from where I come from.
“Part of me felt a little guilty that I was the Arrow girl and a long time ago… it has not always been my viewpoint.
“But I guess people can change,” she added.
In an interview with HuffPost, the 29-year-old added that she was wishing and hoping for an actual gay Country music star, so fans wouldn’t have to hang on straight stars’ messages of acceptance.
“I keep dreaming of the day when we have a gay country music icon, that is loud and proud and really, like, a hero for country music fans, especially in these small towns where [LGBT people] are terrified of being themselves and feel like they have to hide,” she said.
Musgraves will appear on one of Sir Elton John’s two star-studded twin albums covering his back catalogue, titled Revamp and Restoration.
She will be singing Roy Rogers.