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Ty Herndon Weaves Hope Into the 2020 Concert For Love & Acceptance

Tune in Tuesday night to see the Concert for Love & Acceptance.

Ty Herndon Weaves Hope Into the 2020 Concert For Love & Acceptance
Ty Herndon; Photo Credit: Jeremy Ryan

Ty Herndon has an eye-opening view from his East Nashville home. On some days, he sees the moving trucks of residents who’ve sadly been displaced from the tornado that ravaged the neighborhood in March. Other times, he watches with pride as neighbors clean up debris from the storm – an act of kindness that reflects the city’s spirit.

“I travel all over the world and I don’t see a bigger heart than we have here in Nashville,” Herndon professes to Sounds Like Nashville in a phone interview. It’s this benevolence that Herndon channels into the Concert For Love & Acceptance, an event he launched in 2015 to raise funds and awareness for LGBTQ+ youth. Herndon, who rose to fame in the 1990s with hits including “What Mattered Most” and “Living in a Moment,” came out as gay in 2014, blazing a trail for LGBTQ acceptance in the country music industry.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Concert For Love & Acceptance will stream online with performances by Tanya Tucker, Brett Young, Jake Owen, Michael Ray and more, an appearance from Mickey Guyton, with Herndon, Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth and CMT’s Cody Alan as co-hosts. Proceeds from the event will benefit Herndon’s Foundation For Love & Acceptance, GLAAD and first-time partner ACM Lifting Lives. “From a diversity and inclusion perspective, the name says it all – love and acceptance – and that’s something that we want to do as an organization,” ACM CEO Damon Whiteside shares. “There’s certainly a representation of LGBTQ within the country music community and we want to continue to embrace that and showcase that our industry is representative of everyone. This was a great opportunity for us to get involved and really embrace this community.”  

As the event continues to grow each year, with legends like Reba McEntire and Vince Gill appearing in the past, Herndon says that artists are now approaching him about getting involved. “It’s called ‘love and acceptance.’ It’s about a message that we need to hear right now in this country, loud and clear,” he expresses. “It’s been amazing that people believe in this message and want to be a part of it. It’s been very humbling.” GLAAD’s Head of Talent Anthony Ramos also sees the walls of country music coming down as artists ranging from Kacey Musgraves to Little Big Town declaring themselves as allies of the LGBTQ community, while Tim McGraw and Faith Hill appeared at the 2019 Concert For Love & Acceptance to show their support. “I truly think that a reason why the Concert For Love & Acceptance has been able to continue to grow is because the country music community and Nashville itself is in a place that continues to grow,” Ramos explains, adding that Nashville is in a “moment of change.” “There are so many young people who are either from Nashville or from neighboring southern areas who have been craving something like this to feel accepted in their own hometown and to have big time country music stars say ‘it’s okay to be gay, it’s okay to be trans, it’s okay to be bisexual, it’s okay to be queer, it’s okay to be who you are.’”  

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Hi Friends! I’m so excited that we have hit 20% of our goal for the upcoming Concert For Love & Acceptance. Proceeds will support GLAAD and ACM – Academy of Country Music’s charitable arm, AMC Lifting Lives, which is supporting our country music community in this time of crisis. I hope you’ll consider making a contribution, then tune in for the big show on June 30! Go to www.F4LA.org and hit the “donate” button to support us! Also- link in bio: @codyalan @kchenoweth @aliciawitty @ritawilson @jakeowenofficial @michaelraymusic @laurenalaina @thetimmcgraw @terriclarkmusic @thetanyatucker @brettyoungmusic @brandonstansell @shellyfairchild @harpergraemusic @jamieonealofficial @joshbguitar @cmt @glaad #acmliftinglives @mickeyguyton @mattbomer @thelesliejordan @chelywright @indigogirlsmusic @billygilmanofficial @wendymoten @victoriashawmusic @presleytucker @only1noah @lewisbrice @humanrightscampaign @grantlandis @dennisquaid @everetteofficial @theannesteele @dgcomedy @thelesliejordan @cmrnhwthrn @stevegrandmusic @thecrystallewis

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Ramos notes that an additional sign of change is the way country artists across the board are speaking out against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, a theme that Ramos and Herndon assert will “absolutely” be a part of the show. The 2020 event also serves as the official introduction of the Foundation For Love & Acceptance. Previously housed under GLAAD, the foundation works to support LGBTQ+ youth and their families. This year, the foundation is raising money to help those impacted by the tornado in Nashville, with the future goal of distributing scholarships to students who aspire to work in the entertainment industry and “want to change the world, make it a better place,” Herndon describes.

It’s this sense of positive change that Ramos hopes will inspire viewers, recalling how the event has established a safe space for attendees. “I can just see the joy on people’s faces to finally feel accepted. Also within that night, there’s a bunch of messages of love and acceptance, and I know that there are people that are ultimately changing their minds on what they think of the LGBTQ community after they see that show,” Ramos reflects on the event’s purpose. “There’s a tremendous opportunity for people who need to understand and learn more about the LGBTQ community to potentially change their hearts and minds when it comes to acceptance.” For Herndon, the impact he wants the event to have is simple. “Just hope,” he emotionally vows. “If we’re giving you anything, please take away hope.”

The 2020 Concert For Love & Acceptance will air on CMT’s Facebook and YouTube channels on Tuesday (June 30) at 7 p.m. ET.