Queer country music star Brooke Eden says she wants to be a “little catalyst” to “open up the honesty in what is support to be a very authentic genre of music”. (Photo provided by PR/Instagram/@brookeedenmusic)
Country star Brooke Eden is putting her queerness front and centre in her new video, “Got No Choice”, as she tries to change country music one track at at time
The singer’s new “queer anthem” is about following your heart, and the video – which PinkNews is premiering exclusively – fittingly stars Eden and her real-life girlfriend, Hillary Hoover.
The couple has been together since 2015, but Eden told PinkNews that she hid their love – and her identity – out of fear the country music community would react negatively.
Some of those that did know told her she would have to choose between her career and her relationships.
Keeping her secret came at a steep price, as she was constantly terrified of slipping up.
Eden felt “like a robot”, a “shell of who I was” when giving interviews. The anxiety and stress were so much that they took a toll on her physical health.
“I got really sick from it,” she said. “I was bottling up all this stress and lying and being such a small percentage of who I was.
“I got ulcers in my small intestine that made me get off the road anyways, and I was no longer able to tour because my doctor told me this was a life and death situation.”
Eden developed a deep love for music at a young age through accompanying her father to performances with his local country group.
She continued to grow up surrounded by country music and eventually moved from her home in Florida to the country music capital Nashville, Tennessee. Eden signed to independent record label Red Bow Records – a sister label of Broken Bow Records – in 2015, and since has shared stages with some of country’s biggest stars including Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw.
I was taught that if I’m in love with someone of the same sex, I’m going to hell.
It wasn’t until her early 20s that she became certain she was queer – but she always felt different from her friends at Baptist school growing up.
“I always thought my friends were boy crazy, and I just wasn’t,” she explained.
In her youth she attended Bible class every day, and it was “one of those scenarios where they put the fear of God you into the love of God”.
Eden said this rhetoric always “rubbed me the wrong way” even though she felt very close to her spirituality. But the moment “that church got involved”, it became a “very fearful experience” for her.
“It was really hard at first when I was just coming to terms with who I was,” Eden said. “I was taught forever that if I’m in love with someone of the same sex that I’m going to hell.”
But, eventually, “I just started thinking that none of this makes sense. If Jesus loved me truly my whole life, the way that I was taught that he did, then why would he stop just because of who I love?”
It has been a long process for Brooke be so open about her sexuality and her relationship with her partner, Hilary Hoover.
She finally reached a point where she couldn’t physically or mentally keep hiding who she was, and realised there were “so many other people out there who were also waiting for the world to change”.
She hopes that by living in her truth, she can inspire change in country music, which has historically been exclusionary of LGBT+ people.
“If I could be a little part of that change, a little catalyst that maybe helped to open up the honesty in what is supposed to be a very authentic genre of music… I wanted to be a part of that change instead of being a part of the problem that was just continuing to silence people’s actual lives.”
So in 2020, she decided to start living her life more authentically, sharing pictures of herself and Hoover on social media
Being open about her sexuality and relationship has been “the most healing process”, and she feels like “so much weight” was lifted off “me and my life and our relationship”.
“Honestly, just 10 out of 10 would recommend, just once you’re ready to be yourself and be true to who you are, because it will change your life for the better,” she said. “I can’t tell you the relaxation I have. I can sleep at night.”
Her relationships are better because “there’s no more wall of disconnection”, and coming out has opened up her life to “so much more joy and so much less fear”.
This joy has been translated into her music. Brooke Eden has released a slew of singles this year – including “No Shade” and “Sunroof”, and well as “Got No Choice”.
Eden said the inspiration behind the new track came from the time in her career when she was in the “predicament” of being told she could either “keep your career or stay in your relationship”.
Eden said she woke up one day with the idea for her next song: “I’ve got no choice but to love you.”
“This song is not only a queer anthem,” she explained. “This is an anthem for anyone who’s been told that their relationship wouldn’t work because they’re too young or different religions or different skin colours.
“There are so many different ways that people have to fight for their love and their relationship.”