For the first time, an LGBT pride float has taken part in the Tamworth Country Music Festival cavalcade, with 11-time Golden Guitar winner Beccy Cole leading the way.
When 18-year-old Logan Hoswell recently came out to her friends and family as a lesbian, she was not sure how they would react.
But when her announcement was met with love and acceptance, she was overwhelmed with happiness.
“It’s probably something I’ll hold close to me for the rest of my life — the fact that the people I surround myself with are genuine and open-minded,” she said.
“My family as well have been so great about it; they just acted as if nothing ever changed, which is the way it should be.”
A recent graduate from Tamworth’s Academy of Country Music, the aspiring musician was centre stage on board the first LGBT pride float at the Tamworth Country Music Festival cavalcade.
Ms Hoswell said the treatment she had received from the local music community had been warm and welcoming.
“A lot of the country music community are so accepting and that’s really heart warming to me to know that we do have a chance,” she said.
Describing music as her “saving grace”, Ms Hoswell carries an assortment of tattoos inspired by her favourite artists.
She said one of them referenced queer country music legend Beccy Cole, who came out to the public on the ABC’s Australian Story program in 2012.
Sharing the pride float with Cole and her wife Libby O’Donovan after a last-minute confirmation, Ms Hoswell said the country music couple had “saved her life”.
“Her coming out on Australian Story was enough for me to think ‘oh well, if Beccy can do it and people still love Beccy, than maybe I can do it too’,” she said.
Beccy Cole reflects on being a queer country music icon
Eight years after publicly coming out, Cole told the ABC any pride float at a cavalcade was a “wonderful” moment.
“But to have one in a cavalcade that I feel so connected to and that I’ve been a part of for over two decades, well that’s been pretty special,” she said.
The 11-time Golden Guitar winner said inspiring a younger generation of queer country artists was an incredible honour.
“When I hear that my coming out, or my lyrics, have helped a young person feel good enough about themselves to continue along and to come out and to accept themselves, that makes me feel amazing, and I’m really proud of it,” she said.
Cole said Tamworth’s music community had always been accepting of her sexuality.
“I have always felt included within the Tamworth country music community [and] within the country music industry,” she said.
“I came out to the industry a lot earlier than I came out to the public.”
Reflecting on her coming out, Cole said the warmth from the public response still resonated with her today.
“I was absolutely petrified of coming out and I felt like I was given the biggest national hug ever,” she said.
Pride community growing in country music capital
President of the Tamworth Pride Committee, Dianne Harris, said it was unlikely a pride float in Tamworth would have been accepted even a decade ago.
“Ten years ago, I don’t think we would’ve made it down the end of the main street without being heckled and hassled,” she said.
“And now, everybody understands that being gay, or trans like myself, is not an issue for the rest of the community.”
Ms Harris said Ms Hoswell’s participation in the float was amazing to see.
“I’m super impressed that somebody so young has courage enough to stand up and say ‘this is me, I’m in my skin, I’m lesbian, and I’m happy’,” she said.
“So it does make a huge difference, and hopefully it will be a stepping stone for her.”
Following the success of Tamworth’s first pride event in late 2019, Ms Harris said now participating at the town’s biggest annual event was yet another milestone for the wider LGBT community.
“It is so significant for us, as a community, to be able to say that it’s safe, it’s good, you can be included in everything in the wider community,” she said.
“Because people think they can’t be who they are.
“This is to say ‘yeah, you can be; come and join in the fun, don’t hide, it’s okay’.”