Martina McBride has taken what many might consider a bold step forward for a mainstream country artist. She's given her first-ever interview to, an online publication directed mainly at the gay community.

"Honestly, I just have to do what's right for me, and what I would tell people is what I believe, which is that tolerance is very important," McBride answers when asked if she'd ever encourage her fans to be tolerant of gays. "I have three daughters, and that's what I teach them. I think we should all be tolerant of each other and embrace each others' strengths and differences and uniqueness and beauty."

McBride is well aware of the potential backlash from her more conservative fans. In fact, they're already filling up the message boards with angry comments about the article:

"The Almighty GOD created Adam & Eve and not Adam & Steve," writes Matthew Mason.

"She (along with all other parents) MUST teach their children that turning gay is a CHOICE and is not acceptable in today's society," writes another reader.

Others are singing McBride's praises for coming out as a supporter of the gay community:

"Way to go Martina. You join Garth and the Dixie Chicks in being another smart, intelligent, open country star! Not every country fan or performer is some rude, ignorant redneck!" writes Mark.

"Country music needs to drop its homophobia. Thanks for the help. You are a class act," another reader comments.

Growing up in a small Kansas town, McBride says she didn't know any gay people when she was young, yet she always believed the lessons her parents taught her about caring for others. She also reveals that her intense interest in music made her something of an outsider herself.

"In any small town, sports are really important to the high school, and I wasn't very good at sports," she says. "I was always into music. And none of my friends were really into music the same way I was. So it was just different. It was really not very well understood by most of my friends. They didn't tease me about it -- they just didn't really relate. I wasn't necessarily an outcast, but I never really felt like I fit in."

McBride, whose current single, 'Ride,' is being remixed for play in dance clubs, also shares some of her personal style secrets, which could come in handy for drag queens who aspire to perform as Martina in their act. And it all starts with the hair.

"The bigger the better with the hair," she says. "Make it look big -- you know, flowing like a lion, kind of awesome rock star hair. And clothes wise? I always wear heels on stage, even if they're boots. I've never been into flats. I don't know, it just makes me feel ... sexier."

Martina McBride's latest album, 'Shine,' will be released on March 24.

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