Country star Ty Herndon’s music career took off in the mid-’90s when his hit song “What Mattered Most” put him squarely on the charts. Five years ago, Ty decided that what really matters most to him these days is sharing his story. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he revealed that he is gay and is in a committed relationship with a man.
Asked if either of his ex-wives are aware of his sexuality, he responded that they “absolutely knew.”
The 51-year-old singer also told People that he’s struggled with his true self since he was 10 years old, and that there were early signs his family picked up on.
“I was 10, sitting in church and horrified that I might be a homosexual. Whatever that word meant, I knew that I probably was one,” Herndon remembered. “And I know there’s a lot of those kids still out there. Telling my story is an opportunity to help just one of them.”
Ty’s path has not been without its bumps in the road. In 1995 he was charged with exposing himself to a police officer (the charge was later dropped in a plea bargain), and drug abuse played a role in his life as he attempted to live a lie.
“I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. They’ve been my mistakes, and I own them,” Herndon told People. “I’ve done a lot of work around forgiveness with people that I’ve hurt and people I’ve not been honest with because of my sexuality.”
He and his longtime partner Matt plan to one day start a family together, and Ty remains committed to his music career, though he is unsure of how his large fan base will react.
“[Being gay] is just an addendum. I’m a gay man, and I’m looking forward to living the rest of my life authentically and happy,” he said, adding, “I’m still the same person. Fans just know a little more about me now.”
Ty joins Steve Grand as the only out male country singers.
Ty discusses his decision to come out in an interview with ET below.
Congratulations on coming out, I suppose, to Mr. Herndon.
In 1998, Mark Weigle brought out an excellent folk-country music album as an out and proud gay man. There were out gay musicians in other fields at the time, but country was still the home of insecure bigots.
It is people like Mark who made it possible for closeted cowards to come out today.
Steve Grand is HARDLY on this level. Not knocking Grand, but he will most likely never make it to this level. This dude is a signer, not a pretty boy model that can sometimes carry a tune.
You also forgot about Chelly Wright who should have been mentioned on that list because she is also pretty famous in the country world and is LGBT.
@Mitch Trachtenberg: Your comment reeks with judgmental stupidity. Coming out or not is a personal decision and is made for may different reasons. It is no more cowardly to stay in the closet then it is to come out just so you can follow the other pink sheeple.
My ‘dar went wacko when Ty first hit the scene. This is not a surprise in the least.
I’m happy for him to come out I was a fan of his for many years I hope he and Steve make a path for other country music stars who decided to come out.
Nice Story, and good luck to him!
Well, if he had wives then he’s not strictly gay. He’s a switch-hitter. I’m not saying that he was comfortable being married to a woman but if he was married to one then he’s a switch-hitter, not gay.
If he’s more comfortable with men then that’s fine. Just because a man is more comfortable with men, it doesn’t make him gay.
@jason smeds: Don’t be silly, Jason! He’s not just “more comfortable” with men … he loves a man and prefers to have sex with him. That is being gay in anybody’s book.
@tdx3fan: “Your post reeks of judgmental stupidity”
Followed by: “It’s no more cowardly to stay in the closet than to come out so you can follow the other pink sheeple.”
What’s the betting the writer of the above post is some shitknickered feeb who prides himself on his ability to ‘pass’ as str8?
@jason smeds: The archaic tone of your posts always say more about you than the ostensible subject.
It must be awful to be so old and your balls never having dropped.
Mr. Ty Herndon, Thank you for having the courage to live your life truthfully. I wish for you and your spouse, health, happiness, and a long, fulfilling life.
@jason smeds: the guy came out as gay and is proud of that identity. not for you to take it away from him here. what makes him gay is him saying he’s gay. which he did.
Yeah, but we’ve known this about Ty for quite some time, right? I guess finally acknowledging it publically is the key here, but I assumed he did that after the whole arrest thing (as did George Michael). Oh well.
Now if someone can just get through to Miss Chesney.
There is no such thing as a gay identity. Gay is an invented word, identity is an invention of Left Wing politics. These are both inventions.
However, I do not take issue with the fact that many men are forced to cover up their same-sex attractions/relationships due to widespread homophobic attitudes amongst both men and women. When these particular men finally feel comfortable enough to take off the cover, it’s called coming out.
I have real problems with the idea that being gay is an epiphany which trumps everything else and on which one must define everything about oneself.
I am glad he’s happy. I had always wondered about him. People Mention the other guy, but Drake Jensen is also a country music star and is out.
I don’t care what anyone else has to say, Ty is talented, sexy, and his song “Steam” can heat up my room any day. Welcome to the OUT family Ty!
It’s always amusing to me when people are surprised that a closeted gay celeb had “wives” who knew about their sexuality the whole time. They sign confidentiality agreements, get all the perks of a marriage without the drama, and carry on their normal lives out of the public eye.
Here in Nashville, this has been the worst-kept “secret” in music in the past 20 years. But kudos to Ty for finally coming out in the open and proudly being who he is. Country music — all music, actually — needs more people knocking down those old barriers.
I used to like this guy. Now I absolutely adore him – both for his music and for his honesty. The haters over on Free Republic have just lost their collective minds. Schadenfreude at its finest!
Congrats to Ty Herndon for realizing his truth and for finally being true love in his life, in spite of the overwhelming avalanche of haters’ comments from major website responses. Its unfortunate the social media world is constantly filled with despicable and sick ugliness.
@jason smeds: And how many GOP galas have you and GoProud been invited to, lately?
I congratulate him. It’s never too late to come out, and as the accompanying Queerty article on Billy Gilman shows, one person taking a huge, brave step like can positively encourage and empower others.
The problem isn’t gay, bi, transgender, or gender-nonconforming people. It never is.
The problem is homophobes, transphobes, heterosexists, and the people who enable, support and abet them. The problem is homophobia and transphobia.
Good luck! Maybe much has changed since Chely Wright came out and, as the multi-platinum-selling artist put it herself: the booking invitations, live performance opportunities, and radio play stopped.
WHOOPIE!!!!…..Yet another “famous” person who comes out when their career is not what it once was…..”slow clap”…..It should be news when it is someone relevant that comes out…..Not someone that 95% of us have to google to see who they were …
““[Being gay] is just an addendum. I’m a gay man, and I’m looking forward to living the rest of my life authentically and happy,” he said, adding, “I’m still the same person. Fans just know a little more about me now.”
Got a lot of work to do before you can get to PROUD GAY MAN! You cannot be proud and be in the closet (in his case 51 years!) at the same time! I would respect their “process” when celebrities/politicians/YouTube media whores stop using “proud” as a PR spin!
There’s been people that I’ve spoken with online who simply refuse to see that the negative reaction toward being gay has actual repercussions toward gay people. If we’re not allowed to be honest about ourselves without the negative reaction then our sexuality gets expressed in negative ways, as with Ty’s cop incident, and having to lie to everyone, including ourselves, results in coping with alcohol and drug abuse. Still those people I spoke with blamed being gay causing drug problems and inappropriate sexual behavior. When I told them the realities, they simply refused to accept even some of the responsibility for the results of how terribly we are being treated. Those people act as if gay people aren’t part of humanity; not part of a social species interconnected and subject to social dynamics. We are treated as islands and the extenuating circumstance generated by those around us are not allowed to play any part in our lives.
They are wrong. Very wrong indeed.
@tdx3fan: “…It is no more cowardly to stay in the closet…” Actually, it is!
@jason smeds: “There is no such thing as a gay identity. Gay is an invented word, identity is an invention of Left Wing politics. These are both inventions.” And I thought, based on your comments, you were 12 years old! Perhaps it’s because you are a teabagging, dense Republican?
@Kangol: “… huge, brave step,” for a 51 year old financially-successful white male is just a bit melodramatic!
Shocking news! I’m sure no one would have guessed after being busted for cruising all those years ago; still kudos to Ty for coming out in the culture of country music where it’s alright to do just don’t talk about it. Or am I talking about right wing politicians and religious bigots..
I’m the same age as Ty, I remember the incident in the park and suddenly becoming his #1 fan even though I always hated country music. Heartening to see his public announcement all these years later.
@jason smeds: Some people can’t/won’t come out for various reasons. He said both of his wives knew he was gay. They may have been his beards. Both myself and my wife were married to men and had children, after 25 years, my daughters were grown, I left them to start a new life, but I am as gay as the rainbow flag.
@Saint Law: Word. What you said about Jason Smeds. Whenever I read another post by him, my mind goes right to smegma; I know not a pretty sight, right?
Harvey Milk said it best “Come out, come out wherever you are”. Country music is maybe one generation away from not caring about whether someone’s straight or LGBTQ.
Whenever country stars come out, I’m never sure if it’s a big deal because I don’t listen to country music and never will.
But it’s good he’s come out. Hopefully the bad stuff is behind him.
@Leonard Woodrow: Actually, no, it doesn’t. “ONLY wants to have sex with men” is gay. “PREFERS m/m sex and loves a man” can also describe a bi or pan man who leans towards gay. I’ve known some such men.
@jason smeds: He has defined himself as gay, so that’s what he should be considered unless he does something to disprove it.
@SteveDenver: Actually, her career had already slumped when she came out. She went independent due to falling sales in 2003, then self-released for awhile after that, years before she came out to the public. She’s probably doing BETTER now since she’s actually signed to a small label, which she did AFTER coming out.
I remember when news came out that a country star would come out, people were predicting people like Kenny Chesney and so on, and when she made the announcement, a lot of them went, “Who? Oh, that lady who had a few hits in the 90s. Whatever.”
Meh! Who cares?! I don’t even know who he is. He probably did it for a little publicity. He’s pretty, though
Nashville is the last bastion of homophobia in the entertainment industry. If Herndon can bust down the closet door, the entire country music industry will benefit.
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