Video: Song tells 'stupid gays and queers' to 'go somewhere else'
Originally Published: Oct. 19, 2009, 4:04 p.m.
Updated: Oct. 31, 2009, 2:12 a.m.
REIDSVILLE, N.C. â€” City officials have banned future performances by a popular regional Country band after the group sang an anti-gay rendition of a classic Merle Haggard song at a local festival.
Reidsville officials hired Matt Boswell and the Hillbilly Blues Band to sing at their fall festival, held at Market Square in the cityâ€™s downtown area on Saturday, Oct. 10. Local news station WGSR 47 broadcast the event live.
In his rendition of Haggardâ€™s â€śAre the Good Times Really Over for Good?â€ť, Boswell sang, â€śWell youâ€™ll never take my guns, and Iâ€™ll pray anywhere that I please./My daddy always told me, if you were able, and didnâ€™t work then you donâ€™t eat./All you Wall Street bankers, as far as Iâ€™m concerned, you can all go to Hell./And you canâ€™t get married, you stupid gays and queers, so why donâ€™t you go somewhere else?â€ť
A viewer later emailed the station asking that anti-gay lyrics be stripped from future broadcasts.
Reidsville City Manager Kelly Almond told Q-Notes the language used by Boswell was â€śtasteless.â€ť
â€śIt was absolutely unacceptable and certainly unacceptable at a city-owned venue and city-sponsored event,â€ť he said.
Almond also said the employees in charge of booking public events have been â€śinstructed not to book [Boswell] again,â€ť with similar thoughts echoed in an email to WGSR 47: â€śI can assure everyone involved that, if this language was used, this person, or anyone representing him, will not play another city event. Market Square, and indeed all city venues, are places meant to bring people together, not divide them. We certainly support tasteful, patriotic acts. We also have to respect everyoneâ€™s Free Speech rights. However, we donâ€™t have to pay for it or include it in a city sponsored event, and we will not.â€ť
Two city council members told Greensboroâ€™s News & Record they support Almondâ€™s decision.
â€śIf he (Boswell) wants to stand on the street corner and say that, thatâ€™s one thing,â€ť Councilman W. Clark Turner told the daily paper. â€śBut to say it in a city-sponsored event â€” that is altogether a different thing.â€ť
Councilwoman Joan Zdanski said she would have been even more upset if Almond had known about the situation and taken no action.
â€śIf he became aware of that and didnâ€™t do something, then I would say that would be a problem,â€ť Councilwoman Joan Zdanski said.
Boswell is a frequent performer at several Piedmont-area event venues and clubs stretching from southwest Virginia to Greensboro, N.C. Q-Notes was unable to find contact information for Boswell and his agent did not return calls seeking comment.
The City of Reidsville is located north of Greensboro in Rockingham County and has less than 15,000 residents. The city does not include sexual orientation or gender-identity in its non-discrimination policy for city employees.
Boswell’s own lyrics begin at the 3:15 minute mark.