Country Star T.J. Osborne Comes Out as Gay

Osborne is currently the only openly gay country artist signed to a major label

T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne
T.J. Osborne attends Universal Music Group's Grammy party on January 26, 2020.
Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

The country music world has gotten more diverse and accepting in recent years, but it’s still notorious for not exactly being the most tolerant scene, which is why this is a big deal: in a new interview with Time magazine, T.J. Osborne of the popular country group Brothers Osborne has come out as gay. He makes history by doing so; he’s not the only openly gay country artist these days, but he is the only openly gay country musician currently signed to a major label.

“I’m very comfortable being gay,” Osborne, 36, told the publication. “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.”

Brothers Osborne have been nominated for seven Grammys and won four CMA Awards, and Osborne noted that the success only inspired him more to come out. “I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am,” he added. “I mean, I am who I am, but I’ve kept a part of me muted, and it’s been stifling.”

Osborne also addressed the professional risk he’s taking by coming out, given country music’s traditionally conservative fan base, saying he doesn’t think he’ll get “run off the stage in Chicago” now that he’s out. “But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go,” he said. “People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that. 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!’”

Osborne’s brother and bandmate John also voiced his support in the article, saying, “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. How often, in life, do we hold back parts of ourselves and wish that we didn’t? … 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.”

It’s sad (and frankly, shameful) that in the year 2021, the Osbornes have to even wonder whether T.J. coming out as gay could potentially “erase” all their success. But representation is important, and hopefully he’s not the only openly gay major-label country singer for much longer.

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