In a heartfelt feature story shared by Time magazine, TJ Osborne of the hit making country duo Brothers Osborne has come out as a gay man. The 36-year-old is now the first artist to come out of the closet while signed to a major country label, in the prime of his career.
Speaking candidly with Time’s Sam Lansky, Osborne revealed that he’s been keeping his sexuality secret from fans his entire career, although his family and friends — including his brother and duo partner, John, have known for years. And although he sees the news a small portion of who he is as a person, Osborne is not sure how the country industry will react.
“People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that,” Osborne says. “But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn’t be like, ‘Oh, cool!”
The Maryland native and “All Night” singer went on to describe how hard it’s been for him to lead one life in public and another privately, but was also admament that the music he and Brothers Osborne have created has been authentic to his life. The song “21 Summer,” for instance, was actually written about a man Osborne dated and broke up with, and the BROS catalog has always featured inclusive themes.
The singer-songwriter bravely went on to say that he’s hopeful his fans will understand that the revelation is not intended as a publicity stunt and changes nothing about the person fans have gotten to know over the years. He just owes to himself and those who have supported him to live fully as himself.
“There are times when I think I’ve marginalized this part of me so that I feel better about it,” he says. “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,” Osborne goes on. “At this point, my happiness is more valuable than anything else I’d ever be able to achieve.”
The article also includes comments from Osborne’s brother and fellow country star Kacey Musgraves, who shared her belief that TJ’s openness will be good for the genre as a whole. “Others will now feel invited to the country music party for the first time,” Musgraves said. “Country music deserves a future even more honest than its past.”
“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 Osborne noted. “How often, in life, do we hold back parts of ourselves and wish that we didn’t? 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.”
In a follow up post to Instagram about the news, TJ thanked fans and reaffirmed his commitment to authenticity, even using the hashtag #threechordsandthetruth. “That person you’ve gotten to know over the years is me,” he said. “Now you just know more about me.”
Likewise, John Osborne posted in support, saying it was an honor to call TJ his brother.
“All Night,” the blues rocking current single by Brothers Osborne, is out now and part of the duo’s third studio album, Skeletons. After breaking out with the Platinum hit “Stay a Little Longer” in 2015, the brothers went on to claim multiple awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, including three-straight wins as the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year from 2016-2018.