Interview: Brooke Eden Set to Perform Sunday at Pride; Talks Coming Out & Country Music

  • The rising country star will headline Palm Beach Pride’s festival this weekend

Brooke Eden. Photo by Ford Fairchild.

The closet made Brooke Eden sick – literally.

Eden, a rising country star, who lives in Nashville with her wife Hilary Hoover, is unapologetically out and proud. But that wasn’t always the case. For years, Eden attempted to live a double life, which led to ulcers in her small intestine.

“I got really, really sick. I actually had to go off the road for a couple of years to heal my body from that,” she said. “Just like from the stress of living a double life and always trying to not say the wrong pronoun or not slip up. So mental health definitely becomes physical health."

Eden, who identifies as queer, said since coming out in 2021 everything’s changed. Finally, she can be her authentic self. She’s happy. She’s free. And she’s loving life.

‘It’s Changed Everything’

“It's changed everything. I mean, coming out has truly changed every piece of my life for the better,” she said. “I'm so much more able to be an artist and a songwriter because I'm able to tell the truth. And so that has fully impacted me in the best way as a songwriter and as an artist and obviously as a human, just walking as myself on this earth.”

Coming out was her defining moment as an artist.

“Country music is often called three chords and the truth. It’s simple, and it's supposed to be very authentic, and about real life. I was putting out music in a genre of music that's supposed to be about truth, and I was just lying,” she said. “You know, past songs, being about girls, and having to change it up about some guy I was in a relationship with that I wasn't in a relationship with. Having to lie to myself and my fans, about what I was singing about. Those were really low points for me.”

But not anymore.

“Everyone knows about Hilary. Everyone knows that we're married. Everyone knows that we're in love,” she said. “It's not something I have to explain anymore. It just is, and that is so nice. That carried so much weight in my head before. And now that doesn't exist. It's like a wall that's completely down. So getting to write a song, I'm so much more open.”

The West Palm Beach native will headline Palm Beach Pride this weekend. She’s scheduled to perform on Sunday at 4 p.m.

The 35-year-old singer grew up in West Palm Beach and graduated from Wellington High School. She was named Miss South Florida Fair in 2007. Locally she’s also performed at SunFest, the annual music festival in West Palm Beach. After graduating from the University of Florida she came back to the area where she landed her first music gig at a local bar, eventually making her way to Nashville to pursue her dreams.

Eden is excited to return home to perform at Pride.

“It's so wild. Growing up, I didn't know that I was queer [...] but I had so many friends who were, and I didn't ever hear about Pride,” she said. “So I'm like, so excited to be going back and getting to be a part of something that's so important to me and my community. And now that's pretty cool.”

Michael Riordan, Director of Media and Communication at Compass, said Eden is by far the biggest current star to ever perform at their Pride festival.

“We are so excited to welcome Brooke Eden back home to help us spread messages of love and acceptance in a time where it is needed more than ever,” she said. “We know that Brooke will really give us a reason to celebrate.”

‘Love is Love’

One of Eden’s highlights of her career was singing with Trisha Yearwood at the Grand Ole Opry in June 2021. Yearwood revised the lyrics to her classic hit She’s in Love With The Boy in honor of Pride month.

“You just got engaged to a good friend of mine, Hilary [...] so congratulations,” Yearwood said on stage. “There [are] a lot of rainbows on us since we got some Pride going on this month. Love is love. You can’t just say it. You gotta mean it. So I think we should turn this song for you guys tonight. She’s in love with the girl. I’m in love with the boy. So let’s just sing it for everybody.”

Eden was ecstatic, but nervous, when Yearwood asked to sing with her at the Opry.

“That's like a pretty conservative crowd oftentimes, and I just don't know, that makes me a little nervous,” she recalled.

Yearwood reassured her and told her that some fans had been coming up to her for years — telling her they had revised the lyrics themselves.

“She was like [...] ‘I've always wanted to honor that in some way. But I've just never really felt like there was a time for it until now,’” Eden recounted. “I think it is like one of my favorite moments as far as my career goes because it kind of combined my two worlds, which is country music and Pride."

As if that wasn’t enough — Yearwood would later officiate Eden and Hoover’s wedding.

“So wild. [That was my] total childhood idol,” she said. “Still to this day, I tap my hip when I'm singing because that's like what Trisha Yearwood did when I was growing up and watching, award shows or concerts or whatever.”

‘It’s About Damn Time’

Before the duet at the Opry, Eden had only recently come out officially in a Jan. 5, 2021 Instagram post featuring snapshots of her and Hoover together. Over the next several months she reintroduced herself to the world, releasing three new songs featuring Hoover in each of the music videos, slowly revealing her truth and her love.

Eden wasted no time getting engaged after coming out either.

“So there [were] just a lot of exciting things happening at the moment,” she said.

She had been with Hoover since the end of 2015. As people around her began to find out about her relationship, the response wasn’t always positive.

“So as soon as people started to find out, I was told like, if I wanted to keep my career then I would need to keep my relationship quiet,” she said.

And for five years she stayed in the closet to the detriment of her own health.

“You're kind of living two lives,” she said. “At some point, I realized like, who am I doing this for? Who am I trying to keep comfortable? Because it's making me and my wife very uncomfortable.”

The epiphany came in 2020 when she was reading “Untamed,” a memoir by Glennon Doyle. The book features a coming out story.

“I cannot live my life like this anymore,” she remembers thinking.

On TikTok, she explained that moment further.

“I was reading a paragraph that she wrote about integrity. And she was like, you know, integrity. [It’s] basically defined is when you are to the world who you are in your house,” she said. “It hit me like a ton of bricks. Being in the closet doesn't make me a better person, being in the closet makes me half of a person, a shell of a human.”

That’s when she looked at her future wife and said, “Babe, I just read this paragraph and I have to come out, and she was like, ‘Well holy hell it’s about damn time.’”

The next day, she called her team and got the ball rolling.

“I've been sitting around waiting for someone else to come out. So it'd be easier for me to come out. And I'm realizing that maybe I need to come out so it's easier for other people to come out,” she remembers thinking. “Like, maybe I need to be the person that just puts my foot down and just takes the plunge, and I was so happy to be met with encouragement and support.”

But still. She had no idea how it would work out professionally. Ultimately, she decided she didn’t care.

People around her asked her if she was comfortable with people not responding well.

“I finally was able to say yes, like, however this ends up, I have to be myself,” she said.

The backlash she so feared never came.

“I've had so many people DM me telling me that like, my story has helped them come out,” she said. “That gets me every time. I've had parents reach out to me telling me that they like that their kid came out to them like using my videos, which is incredible.”

Of course, there were negative responses as well.

'Got No Choice'

In 2021, she released a trio of new songs that would become her coming out songs, which include “Got Not Choice,” “Sunroof,” and “No Shade.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Eden’s music, she suggests starting with those songs.

“[‘Got No Choice’] is one of my favorite songs to this day that I've ever written,” she said. “Start with that EP, “No Shade,” “Sunroof,” and “Got No Choice” and go from there because that's when I started speaking my truth. I feel like that's the most me.”

When she released the video for “Sunroof,” it shot to the top of the charts on iTunes.

“I got so much hate and hateful comments, but it's kind of hilarious because those comments boosted my algorithm and helped me get number one, like worldwide on iTunes,” she said. “Thank you to the haters, you know?”

Eden doesn’t let the negative comments bother her.

“I see haters as just another reason as to why I have to be louder. It's all for the kids who grew up like I did and like thinking that their life was not going to be OK,” she said. “So the negative comments don't really affect me. Those negative comments kind of highlight even more to me why it's important for me to be myself.”

Her latest EP was released last year and includes the title track, “Outlaw Love.”

The Queer Country Crew

Eden’s been in Nashville for 11 years and is used to living in a Red state. But nowadays, coming home has been jarring since Florida has lurched so far to the right, especially in regard to LGBTQ issues.

“It’s really sad to see all the anti-LGBTQ laws,” she said. “But again, it's the reason that it's so important to me to continue to tell my story and invite people to just be themselves.”

As for other queer country artists who have inspired her, she points to Ty Herndon and Chely Wright.

“They came out years before I did, and unfortunately, they weren't met with the support and love that I was met with,” she said. “So I'm really grateful to them because I do feel like they walked, so I could run in a way.”

She noted that while Tennessee is very conservative, Nashville is quite progressive.

“It's very progressive here. We're a city full of creatives and Nashville is all love. I love living here.”

Eden said she has a “queer country crew” in the city that all hang out that include her two best friends, Chris Housman and Adam Mac.

“They're incredible queer country artists,” she said. “That I can't wait for everyone to know more about.”

Eden is excited about the future.

“A lot of amazing things are going on in the country music world, in the queer space. So it's really, really cool to see Nashville kind of open its arms and allow people to like start really being themselves. So the genre is definitely changing and evolving,” she said. “Whoever likes it or not, you know, it's evolving quickly. I mean, honey, we have Beyoncé now.”

RELATED: Pride is Here. Lake Worth Beach is Ready to Celebrate


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