In separate announcements Thursday, country music singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman came out as gay.
Herdon went first, in interviews with People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight. His announcement inspired Gilman to do go public as well in a You Tube video posted just a few hours later.
“I’m an out, proud and happy gay man,” Herndon, 52. told People.
Herndon says the revelation was many years in the making — he first wondered if he was gay when he was about 10 years old and then began coming out to close family members at 20.
“My mother probably knew I was gay before I did. I remember sitting down with her and having the conversation,” recalls Herndon. But, ultimately, “she was more concerned about me having a happy life. You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.”
Herndon said friend and fellow country artist Chely Wright, who came out in 2010, played a big part in his coming out – as did his longtime partner, Matt.
Hours later, Gilman, 26 — whose 2000 debut album, One Voice sold more than two million copies — told viewers on YouTube that he’d been planning a public revelation for several weeks and that Herndon, a friend, made it easier for him.
Gilman says in the video that months back a reporter took a picture of him with his partner and that is when he knew he should come out. He said he wanted it to come from him instead of some other source where the facts might be distorted.
He also said that he believes because of rumors about his sexual orientation, major record labels had avoided him, adding that he feels he is “in a genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me.”
Gilman said he been with his partner for five months.