Grammy and Academy of Country Music Award winning artist LeAnn Rimes closes out PrideFest 2015 with a 6:15 p.m. showstopper on Sunday, June 28 on the Bud Light Entertainment Stage and the up and coming icon promises a side of her you might just not expect.

You just wrapped up performing in front of 30K shirtless gay men at the White Party in Palm Springs - how was that experience?

I did, yes. It was awesome. We had the best time and it was definitely the most entertaining show for me.

We're excited to have you headlining St. Louis PrideFest - what do you have in store for audiences this summer?

It's funny, I've never performed my dance mixes until last year for the first time in Orlando and I love doing it. It's totally different for me and something I've never done. It's a big love fest, I think; the audience is just so affirmed - just free. It's a really fun show. I'll be doing a lot of the remixes off of my last remix record "Dance Like You Don't Give a..." (insert a certain word there). [laughs].

I love the remix album. Did you have the gay community specifically in mind when you sort of pulled the trigger on that?

Obviously I know a lot of my gay fans asked me to put all of my remixes on one CD, so yea, they were definitely at the forefront of my mind when I made that record. It's funny, because EDM has become such a mainstream thing now, but I have to say, my gay friendsLeannpic definitely did influence that record. They've been asking for a long time to have everything in one collection on one CD.

Tell us about your very first experience at a PrideFest/LGBT celebration?

Gosh - well, my first experience at a gay pride celebration was in Charlotte and it was 100,000 people and insane! I don't know, it's just a different crowd. Like I said, I think there's just so much love there and everybody's always been really receptive and just so open and it's fun. You get to see everybody singing to all my hits and a lot of people grew up on my music, so it's really exciting. It's like no other. In Orlando, when I did a gay club there - like I said, it was my first time performing my dance mixes - I walked off stage and said, I want to do more of that - whatever that was! Because it was just an energy I never experienced before.

When did you first become aware of LGBT issues?

Oh wow, I don't remember when I didn't know about LGBT issues. I've been a supporter for a very long time. My uncle, actually - he passed away from AIDS when I was 11 so I was very close to him and was always aware of him being gay when I was a kid. It was not talked about very much because my family was from the south. So that came with its own set of judgements but he was one of my nearest, dearest, closest family members. I think obviously because of him and who I am and what I stand for it's always been something very close to my heart.

I read where you've talked about enjoying a real kinship with the gay men in your life. Could you talk about that personal connection a bit?

Yea, my mom asked me one time: do you have any straight friends?? I'm like: I don't think so!! I love my gay male friends; they're the best ever! Darrell Brown who produces my records and writes with me; one of my best friends are he and his husband. I have so many gay friends surrounding me who have to do with my music that I can go shoe shopping with [laughs]. So in every aspect of my life they've always been there for me and I think because of that I've always been supportive. I support their rights and who they love like I would any other friend. I've been surrounded by some incredible, incredible men and I have to say that my life has been very blessed because of them.

Ty Herndon And Billy Gilman recently out; things are seemingly progressing in terms of acceptance and diversity in the industry.

I hope so, I'm proud of both of them. I've know Ty since I was 8 years old; we've been very good friends for a very long time and Billy I've known since he was little too. So I'm proud of them, I'm proud of them for coming out and that's not easy when you're involved in the country music world. And I know there are still a lot of people who support them privately but won't come out and say it publicly which I think is incredibly sad. But it's changing - how quickly, I'm not sure - but they definitely made a huge statement (Chely Wrights, also) and I'm proud of them for being who they are. Hopefully we'll become a lot more accepting in that genre of music and I think worldwide and especially here in America.

I know you were an early advocate of LGBT rights in the industry; can you talk about a situation where you changed some hearts and minds?

Yea, actually. I do this thing on my Instagram called "Talk the Talk." It started out in a bathroom at an airport where someone left a sticker on the back of a door and it said something really inspirational and I thought that would be cool to sort of do something like that around the holidays. So I started this whole campaign on my Instagram and Twitter having people leave inspirational sticky notes around wherever they were. It was something that kind of spread through the holidays. I did it again around Valentine's Day and there was a mom who put a note for her daughter telling her how fantastic she is and how she's so proud of her. She's a 15 year who's having a really hard time with coming out; she came out to her mom a couple of years ago and they went through their issues but mom's really, really supportive and it's so amazing to see. One of the prizes was that I would call and say hello and when I called it was such a cool story and to hear her mom tell how she was so proud of her and that it gave them kind of this bonding experience through her note to her. It was so cool to talk to them and know that something like that made a difference and that was something so simple but it was really sweet.

There's a good chance that the Supreme Court will legalize same-sex marriage nationwide by PrideFest... have you been following the marriage equality fight?

I have not been following it - I mean, I obviously hear about it when it happens but I have to admit I'm not a big media/news person. I find the news incredibly sad. So I don't usually - I don't know - you can get everything on the internet these days, so I don't follow it closely but I'm always aware of it when it breaks. I hope we'll be celebrating!

What's coming up for LeAnn Rimes; any news you'd like to share?

I have a Christmas record that will be coming out. I had an odd 90 degree day yesterday where I was in the studio recording Christmas music so that will be out at the end of the year. I'm working on a new album right now writing and creating, so I'm kind of in that creative mode right now and doing a few shows this summer. I'm enjoying it, I really am.

You'll be performing at St. Louis PrideFest; what does PRIDE mean to LeAnn Rimes?

To be comfortable in your own skin and be proud of who you are. There are days I'm so proud of who I am and days I just want to crawl into bed. So I think the biggest gift you can give yourself and the most "aha" moment is to really feel comfortable being you and be proud of that. I find these days when people are proud of themselves our society likes to say they're being boastful and tears them down for it; they're not supposed to be proud of themselves. But to me it's such a beautiful thing when you can really own who you are and the accomplishments and to me that's what pride is all about.





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