Country music crooner TJ Osborne, best known as half of the duo The Brothers Osborne, has officially come out as a gay man. Osborne joins other country artists like Orville Peck and Brandi Carlile as one of the few openly LGBTQ artists working in the genre.
Speaking to Time, Osborne, 36, revealed that he’s long been out to close friends and family. He had, however, avoided talking about the subject in public as he prefers to keep his personal life private. Until now.
“I’m very comfortable being gay,” he told the 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.”
Osborne goes on to reveal that the conservative, homophobic atmosphere within country music and its fans also prompted him to stay closeted. “I don’t think I’m going to get run off the stage in Chicago,” he adds. “But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go.”
Still, for Osborne, the lead vocalist of The Brothers Osborne, coming out is worth the risk. His brother and musical partner, John Osborne, also supports TJ’s decision.
“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,” John said of TJ’s coming out. “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.”
John and TJ plan to continue writing and recording music together, and hope that TJ’s coming out will actually enhance their songwriting. But what if country fans reject them?
“I’ve done more than I ever thought I would,” TJ says of his career. “At this point, my happiness is more valuable than anything else I’d ever be able to achieve.”
Go get ’em, cowboy.