Country singer-songwriter T.J. Osborne opened up about his sexuality for the first time this week, revealing publicly that he is gay.
The 36-year-old, who is half of the Brothers Osborne, told Time magazine in an interview published Wednesday that he’s been out to friends and family for years. After spending most of 2020 in isolation, however, he felt that he owed it to his fans to live openly as his authentic self.
“I’m very comfortable being gay,” Osborne said. “I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am. I mean, I am who I am, but I’ve kept a part of me muted, and it’s been stifling.”
Osborne’s announcement drew a chorus of praise from fellow artists Kacey Musgraves and Jason Isbell, as well as LGBTQ advocacy groups like GLAAD. After the interview went live, he posted a short video on Instagram thanking fans for the support he’d already received.
“The person you know is me,” he said. “And now you just know more about me. I think that’s so important in so many ways. I know it’s going to help my relationship with my fans, with my family and, honestly, [with] myself.”
The Maryland native joins a growing subset of artists and personalities in country and folk music who identify as LGBTQ. Masked singer-songwriter Orville Peck, who last summer duetted with Shania Twain, is gay, while five-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlile has described herself as a “small-town lesbian folk singer.” Three years ago, singer Brandon Stansell set a precedent when the music video for his song “Hometown” became the first queer-inclusive clip to receive airplay on the country music network CMT.
Osborne, however, is reportedly the first openly gay artist to be signed to a major country label, EMI Records Nashville.
As the Brothers Osborne, he and his real-life brother, John, released their debut album, “Pawn Shop,” in 2016. The duo’s most recent release was “Skeletons,” unveiled last October.
As to what impact his sexuality may have on his future in country ― still widely viewed as a conservative genre ― Osborne said he wasn’t concerned.
“There are times when I think I’ve marginalized this part of me so that I feel better about it,” he told Time. “And I realize that it is a big part of who I am: The way I think, the way I act, the way I perform. God, think of all the times that we talk about love, and write about love. It’s the biggest thing we ever get to feel. And I’ve kept the veil on.”
“I’ve done more than I ever thought I would,” he continued. “At this point, my happiness is more valuable than anything else I’d ever be able to achieve.”