by Marcus K. Dowling
“I’m very comfortable being gay. I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.” In an article published February 3 in TIME Magazine, TJ Osborne — half of brother tandem Brothers Osborne with his brother John — has come out to the world.
The announcement is significant because it makes TJ Osbourne the only openly gay artist signed to a major country label. This announcement continues an era where country music is experiencing an unprecedented uptick in historical moments. From finally answered calls for industry diversity to a balance of power being achieved between radio and digital streaming defining pop-country stardom, this is another notable moment. Osborne joins — most notably — Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, Orville Peck, Lil Nas X, Chely Wright, and Billy Gilman as openly queer country artists with significant followings and acclaim.
In just under a decade as mainstream artists in the genre, the Brothers Osborne have released three studio albums containing seven singles that have reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. As well, their 2015 hit “Stay a Little Longer” was a platinum-selling mainstream crossover success, and the pair have won four CMA Awards and been nominated for seven Grammys.
T.J. came out to his bandmate and brother in his mid-twenties and John’s reaction to his brother’s public announcement now is similar. “If I had to have all my money and success erased for my brother to be truly fulfilled in life,” John said, “I wouldn’t even think about it. Not for a second.”
“I don’t think I’m going to get run off the stage in Chicago. But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go.” Continuing, TJ notes to TIME that country “isn’t the most popular genre among gay people.” However, positively, he offers two different yet encouraging statements. “[Gay people] never had the opportunity to relate to [country music],” he offers. Adding, when asked if he was nervous about making his announcement, “I’m ready to put this behind me.”
Osborne’s likely ready to put it all behind him because the duo is still hard at work at music. Brothers Osborne released the single “All Night” in 2020, which reached the top 25 of Billboard’s Hot Country and Country Airplay charts. Moreover, as TJ told NPR last week, “[Unlike others], we’re not out to prove to the world how versatile and different we are. We’re just going to do what we do in country music, which is where we feel the most at home.”
To read TJ Osborne’s entire Time interview, click here.