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    Hank Williams’ Gay Grandson in New Film ‘Rebel Country’

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    Country music has a new rebel in town, and he’s shaking things up in ways his legendary grandfather, Hank Williams, could never have imagined. Sam Williams, the grandson of the iconic Hank Williams and son of Hank Williams Jr., is making waves not just with his music but also with his bold embrace of his sexuality. His journey is captured in the upcoming documentary Rebel Country, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 10, 2024.

    A New Kind of Outlaw

    In an exclusive clip from Rebel Country, shared with PEOPLE, Sam Williams opens up about what it means to be an outlaw in today’s country music scene. “An outlaw in my grandfather’s time was a very literal sense of, ‘Don’t mess with them or they’re gonna shoot you,’” Sam explains. For his father’s generation, the outlaw movement was synonymous with “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” But for Sam, being an outlaw is about authenticity and self-expression.

    “And now, I just feel like being an outlaw is creating the type of music that is truly trying to represent yourself in music,” says Sam, who is known for his soulful tracks like “Weatherman” and “Snow Angels.”

    Instagram: @samwillivms

    Challenging the Status Quo

    Sam’s decision to come out publicly and express his sexuality through his music marks a significant shift in the traditionally conservative world of country music. In 2022, Sam made headlines when he kissed his boyfriend on camera in the music video for his song “Tilted Crown.” He admitted that initially, he was hesitant to tackle such a personal subject in his work, but eventually realized the importance of visibility.

    “I felt like I was promoting invisibility, like I wasn’t being visible and wasn’t being myself,” Sam said on Apple Music’s Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly. “And I just thought it was the perfect opportunity to just show who I was.”

    Related: Peck, Nelson’s Gay Country: Cowboys Are Fond of Each Other

    Inspiring a Movement

    Sam Williams’ courage has inspired other artists within the country music community. Fellow queer country artist Brooke Eden speaks to this in Rebel Country, sharing how Sam’s bravery encouraged her to come out. “I think that the more and more people like Sam, who are brave enough to be themselves, the more people will realize it doesn’t matter who your dad is or who your grandfather is, you’re gonna be who you’re gonna be,” Eden says. She adds that this new generation of artists believes wholeheartedly that “love is love.”

    Instagram: @samwillivms

    Rebel Country: A Documentary with a Message

    Rebel Country delves into the evolving landscape of country music, featuring a diverse array of artists like Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, and BRELAND. The documentary explores how these musicians are challenging the cultural norms of Nashville while paying homage to the rebellious roots of the genre, with archival footage of original outlaws like Johnny Cash.

    The film highlights how art and music reflect the times we live in, featuring live performances and contributions from musicians, historians, and journalists. One notable performance is Jelly Roll’s gig in a prison where he was formerly incarcerated, symbolizing redemption and change.

    Instagram: @samwillivms

    Campaign to End LGBTQ+ Discrimination

    Sam Williams’ story and his role in Rebel Country are pivotal in the broader campaign to end LGBTQ+ discrimination. His visibility and advocacy challenge the entrenched prejudices within the country music scene and beyond. By living his truth and encouraging others to do the same, Sam is helping to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for future generations of artists and fans alike.

    As Rebel Country prepares for its premiere, Sam Williams stands as a powerful figure in the ongoing fight for LGBTQ+ rights, proving that true rebellion lies in the courage to be oneself.

    Related: Orville Peck Reveals Boyfriend in Heartfelt Awards Speech


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