T.J. Osborne thought he might receive supportive messages after he came out earlier this week, but he didn't anticipate how they would make him feel.
The singer, 36, who is one half country duo Brothers Osborne, shared that he's gay in an interview with Time magazine published Wednesday. During a recent appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," he reflected on the reaction from both fans and people who actually know him.
“I expected a wave of love from family and friends, and I did not expect it to feel the way it felt," he told DeGeneres. "Right now I feel so incredibly loved."
"To have people who I never expected to say anything reaching out to me, people that I feel like personify masculinity and straight culture to the nth degree, who are coming out with a lot of pride for me ... that was really the moment to me that made me feel like, 'Wow, that was there the whole time,'” he added.
Osborne also shared that "the really beautiful" thing about his coming out is that he'd only shared his truth with a few people beforehand, calling the experience "a weight off my shoulders."
“I've never really come out to very many people. I’ve only done it to a few people, mainly because I find it just really awkward and uncomfortable,” he said. “So it has been a really wild experience to have come out to very few people — although a lot of my friends and family knew already — to then kind of come out publicly in one big fell swoop, which was in some ways nice and in other ways has made it a very emotional day.”
He also revealed to DeGeneres why he made the decision to come out when he did.
“I kind of told myself for a long time that if everything is equal here and it’s not that big of a deal, then why do I have to come out?” he said. “Unfortunately, it just isn’t that way, and I kind of got to this point to where I knew there was really never going to be the perfect time. ... The perfect time is always now. Honestly, I instantaneously felt like, 'I wish I had done this a long time ago.'”
Osborne is the only openly gay musician signed to a major country label, according to Time, and he reflected to DeGeneres on how country fans might react to his decision to be open about his sexuality.
“I think country really comes from a lot of rural roots, a lot of kind of Christianity, and a lot of kind of old-school way of thinking,” he said. “I know it’s changed a lot over the years, and ... I’m curious to see how it all plays out with us going to rural America. I feel pretty confident going to places like L.A. and going to Chicago and playing here in Nashville, where I live, and I’m curious to see how it is in kind of the more rural counties.”
Since coming out publicly earlier this week, Osborne has received an outpouring of love on social media, including messages of support from country music fans.
“Heard the news today and got teary eyed!!!” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Thank you TJ for your bravery. As a gay, country music fan I’ve always felt like two parts of my identity are at odds with each other. I hope you feel comfortable at some point writing a song using ‘he’!”
“Been following @brothersosborne since the first time I saw you at the Indiana State Fair free show. I’ve seen every show since then that’s been in Indy. Once covid is a distant memory, I will continue to do so. Love the music, love the band, and that’s only increased today!” another fan tweeted.