Country singer Ty Herndon opened up about being gay Thursday morning, and his public announcement prompted fellow artist Billy Gilman to make his own personal revelation on YouTube.
“I’m an out, proud and happy gay man,” said Herndon, 52, in an interview with People, where he explained that he came out to his family at age 20.
However, five years ago, “I realized I had an incredible story that could possibly help someone’s son or daughter or grandchild’s life not be as difficult as mine has been,” he said. “Maybe they wouldn’t have to go through as much pain and suffering. It’s time to tell my truth.”
The “What Mattered Most” singer’s honesty prompted Gilman, 26, to follow in his footsteps telling fans, “Today a fellow country artist and friend made it easier to make this video.”
Gilman went on to reveal that when a reporter took a picture of his partner and him at a recent fall festival, “it was in that moment that I knew that I would rather it be from me than reading it somewhere else, and probably filled with not truths.
“There were rumors and whispers, ‘Is he or isn’t he?'” he explained, stressing that in Nashville, “being a gay country artist is not the best thing.
“It’s difficult for me to make this video not because I’m ashamed of being a gay male artist or a gay artist or a gay person. But it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that because I’m in an genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me,” said the “One Voice” singer from Rhode Island.
“That said, I want to say that all of the country artists that literally I grew up with — Keith Urban, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rhimes and all of these wonderful friends of mine have been nothing but supportive. Not that they knew but they’ve just been such wonderful people.
“I’ve been an advocate for so many things in my life that I thought, why not now be an advocate for me and for the cause that I believe in with my whole heart?”
As for Herndon, who has a longtime partner named Matt, he revealed that his family “has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.”
He did however, credit Kacey Musgraves’ LGBT-approving hit “Follow Your Arrow” — which won top honors at the CMAs earlier this month — for making great strides in the country music genre.
“There’s never been a song more affirmative of that in country music, and it’s our CMA Song of the Year,” he told People. “I felt so proud of my city. I hope that trend continues; I pray it does.”
Herndon and Gilman join Chely Wright and “All-American Boy” singer Steve Grand as country stars who have come out.
Watch the video.