The following “letter” was written by Father Nathan Monk. It appears on his “public figure” Facebook page. Monk is an activist and former Priest. In the letter, Monk reminds Jason Aldean about what is true and what is not true about life in a small town. His insights may help Aldean and some of his fans come back to reality about how life is not what he describes in those small towns, including the one Monk lives in outside of Nashville in rural Tennessee.

Dear Jason Aldean,

I grew up in Nashville. I’m as Southerner as fried chicken and collard greens. On my Dad’s side, we are from Louisiana and Texas, and Mississippi on my Mother’s side. I was born in Louisiana, raised in Tennessee, and spent much of my adult life in a small town on the Gulf Coast.

What really upsets me about what you have done here is that I know you know better. Unlike Trust Fund Kid from Michigan, you aren’t just cosplaying as a Southerner to sell some yeehaw dream to midwesterners with a hard-on for the “good ol’ days” who buy knock-off Stetsons on Broadway and pronounce Demonbreun Street as Demon-Brewing.

As a near-native son of Nashville, I know exactly what kind of town you were exposed to. One where we learned about how hard the hillbillies from East Tennessee worked to destabilize the Confederacy to win back Tennessee for the Union. I learned about that at age eleven at the Carter House in Franklin, TN, from the tour guide Mr. Cartwright. As a Nashvillian, I’m sure you remember how hard our city fought to keep that ugly private Confederate memorial from being placed on I-65. You know damn well that Nashville is a liberal city in a gerrymandered state that would otherwise be blue.

Instead of telling the truth about our community, you’ve played pretend. Tennesseans fought that anti-drag law and won. We are a community that re-instated our representatives who were unjustly forced out of office. We are fighters, but not like who you described.

Tennessee was the only seceded Southern state not listed on the emancipation proclamation because it had already been under Union control.

Why don’t you write a song about that?

I’m aware it’s not a perfect state; it’s got issues. We’ve got blood on our hands, just like every state in the union, but we’ve tried real hard not to be like what you described in your song. We aren’t going around proudly boasting about our mistakes; we are trying to build a better world together.
You currently live in the big city where I grew up, but I now actually live in a small town just east of the city. I mean, real tiny! Just 1,500 people kinda place. The kind of small town you tried to make sound real, real dangerous, but I’ll tell ya what, it sure ain’t the way you’ve described it.

When I moved back to Tennessee a couple of years ago, I decided to stop by the corner store near my house to introduce myself to the neighbors. The lady working there was very friendly, and a guy was sitting in a rocking chair, going back and forth. It was country as hell, and I loved it.

She starts to whisper in the way that Southern folks do when they are about to spill the sweet tea. She looks back and forth and then says, “Now, there is someone who lives on your street I wanna talk to you about. Now, sometimes, they dress as a man, but other times they dress as a woman…”

I start to get nervous about what she will say next, but I bite my tongue and wait.

“…well, you just better be okay with that. Because they are a nice fella and a sweet lady.”
They were checking me to make sure I wasn’t going to cause any trouble. I told them I was real fine with that, and the lady at the store just nodded. Then, the guy in the rocking chair, who has said nothing the entire time, finally says, “All I’m gonna say about it is, if I had legs like that, I’d wear those shorts too.”

Just as I walk out the door, she says, “And the tavern up the street. It’s owned by two lesbians. It’s not a gay bar, though. I keep reminding people that just because someone owns something don’t make it a gay thing. It’s a for everybody thing. Welcome to the neighborhood!”

You know what I see in small towns in the South, Jason? Chimneys standing where the homes of confederates once stood that the Tennessee Union soldiers burned to the ground as a reminder of what happens when you betray your country and its people.

Anyway, as a queer liberal Southern man from Nashville, I just wanted to say I know you are lying. You knew exactly what you were doing. You conflated carjackings with protests. But you aren’t fooling me. Maybe you might convince your fans that you are tough, and you might make a few folks up North think we are all a bunch of backwoods cousin-kissers looking to re-live the 1950s. But you know you’re lying, just like I know you are lying.

Because we are from the same town and it ain’t small, it’s big enough for all kinds of folks. You could have been a Dolly, Garth, Faith, Tim, or even Taylor, but you chose to be a Toby Keith. You sold out to the hate machine and dishonored all of those who have fought and died to make sure Tennessee isn’t like you described.

Anyway, maybe I’ll see you around at Pucketts or Santa’s Bar someday; I’ll be sure to say hello, and perhaps we can talk this out in person with our minds and not our fists. Because that’s how we actually handle things here in Tennessee, with a little bit of Southern hospitality. So I got a sweet tea and a porch with your name on it.

Sincerely, just some small-town boy from Tennessee,
Nathan