In a new interview, country star T.J. Osborne has come out publicly as gay. The Brothers Osborne lead vocalist has been out to his family and friends, but for the first time ever, he is revealing his truth to the world.
“I’m very comfortable being gay,” the 36-year-old musician told Time magazine. “I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.”
With this news, Osborne is now the only musician signed to a major country label who is publicly known to be gay.
“People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that,” he said. “But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn’t be like, ‘Oh, cool!”
“I don’t think I’m going to get run off the stage in Chicago,” Osborne added. “But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go.”
Osborne and his brother, John Osborne, have won four CMA Awards, two ACM Awards and been nominated for several Grammys. Signed to EMI Nashville, the pair have released three studio albums, and their second, “Port Saint Joe,” debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s top country albums list in 2018.
“I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am,” he said, adding, “I mean, I am who I am, but I’ve kept a part of me muted, and it’s been stifling.”
On embracing his identity publicly, Osborne says, “I want to put the coming out behind me. Because ultimately it’s a very small detail about me.”
Osborne joins a handful of other successful musicians who are out, including Lil Nas X, Adam Lambert, Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko and Sam Smith. But those are pop artists, a genre seemingly more accepting to LGBTQ diversity than country.
“You know that thing — stand for something or you’ll fall for anything? That sounds like something someone in country music would say,” he said. “But if you stand for something and it’s not what they stand for, then they hate it. I’ve done more than I ever thought I would. At this point, my happiness is more valuable than anything else I’d ever be able to achieve.”
John Osborne, 38, remembered when T.J. first came out to him many years ago.
“He was very open and candid about it, and I was emotional, because my brother was finally able to be completely honest with me about who he was,” he told Time. “How often, in life, do we hold back parts of ourselves and wish that we didn’t?”
He added, “If I had to have all my money and success erased for my brother to be truly fulfilled in life, I wouldn’t even think about it. Not for a second.”