Maren Morris learned to stand up for the LGBTQ community from a young age.
In a new interview with GLAAD for the LGBTQ media advocacy organization's annual #SpiritDay campaign, the country singer-songwriter spoke about how personal experiences led her to support the queer community and why motherhood's further intensified her passion.
Morris, 32, told the outlet that growing up, she was was active in the local theater community of her Arlington, Texas, hometown and often surrounded by gay-identifying individuals at a young age. "It was just very normal," she said, noting that her mother's uncle "sadly died in the early '90s of AIDS."
"It was just always a conversation in our household that we're all the same, and there is no 'us and you.' I think that being instilled in me from such an early age, particularly growing up in the south, was really important," continued the "Circles Around This Town" performer. "I didn't realize how important it actually was until I got into my 20s and kind of solidified my adulthood and started working in country music."
Courtesy GLAAD Maren Morris
Earlier this month, Morris went viral for publicly criticizing Brittany Kerr Aldean, the wife of fellow country star Jason Aldean, after Brittany made a transphobic comment in an Instagram video amid ongoing debate and efforts to restrict access to gender-affirming care. "I'd really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life," she captioned a makeup reveal video in September.
Morris responded on Twitter: "It's so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie."
The exchange sparked additional back-and-forths between Morris, Brittany and other stars like Cassadee Pope, Lindsay Ell and more, and when Brittany appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show to discuss the situation, Carlson labeled Morris a "lunatic country music person."
Jeff Kravitz/Getty for CMT; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Michael Loccisano/Getty for Little Kids Rock Maren Morris, Brittany Kerr Aldean, Cassadee Pope
In turn, Morris stuck the phrase on T-shirts and sold them to fans, ultimately raising more than $150,000 for the Trans Lifeline and GLAAD's Transgender Media Program. For the organization's #SpiritDay campaign, she's releasing a new, purple t-shirt printed with the phrase, "You Have a Seat at This Table," and 100% of proceeds will benefit GLAAD's work to support LGBTQ youth.
Speaking to the organization, the "My Church" musician detailed the importance of publicly defending the transgender community. "You definitely have to let people know where you stand on really important subjects because those people come to your show, and I want it to feel safe," she said. "I think the empathy bone you get when you become a parent just is amplified so much more, and I think that you're even more sensitive to disinformation and bullying."
Over the past few weeks, said Morris, she's been doing "deeper research" in order to combat discourse that's "completely untrue about trans youth and gender-affirming care and what it actually entails."
"I think that in correcting that, I definitely get heated because it's not like we're talking about what your favorite color is; we're talking about people's lives. And so, I do get extremely emotional when I talk about it or if I correct someone who is really sensitive," she explained. "I think you have to have tough conversations so people understand what's actually going on, and you could actually save someone's life by having the right information."
Elsewhere in the interview, Morris detailed the reasons she feels it's important to stand up against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. "What I really want to raise awareness of is when kids deal with bullying at school, but then they also deal with it from adults too! When does it end?" she said. "All you want for your family is for them to feel safe and encouraged… and as a parent, be the guide, because they're going to have their own path, no matter what. You just have to help light the way."
Morris continued, "When you also have adults partaking in it too, out of their own prejudices or biases, or just misinformation, that's when it's like, 'OK, we really need to have a talk as the human race.' I definitely feel like it hits closer to home for me now, having a son — and I have gay family members!"