Yesterday, country music star Ty Herndon came out as gay, declaring to the world that he is an "out, proud, and happy gay man." He was soon joined by fellow country music artist Billy Gilman, who had been struggling with how to come out of the closet for weeks, according the video he posted to YouTube. He said was spurred by Ty's own coming out to tell his fans that he too is gay. "It's taken me a good many weeks to figure out how I was to approach this," he explained in the homemade video. "But today, actually, a fellow country music artist and friend made it easier."
When he was 11 years old, Gilman released his first hit single, "One Voice," in 2000, becoming the youngest singer to land a top 40 hit in the country music charts. His debut album of the same name went certified double platinum in the US, with follow up albums Christmas Classics and Dare to Dream both going certified gold, Dream hitting No. 6 on the Billboard country music albums chart.
Despite his success, however, record labels eventually stopped approaching him, perhaps due to rumors about his sexuality. "Coming to terms with this situation, people were stating, 'Oh, you don't know how many times we heard,'" he explained. "After having sold over 5 million records and having a wonderful life in the music industry, I knew something was wrong when no major label wanted to sit down and have a meeting." Despite this, Gilman decided to come out to his fans on his own terms, as opposed to allowing false accusations and claims to be made. "I felt it was time for me to be honest and to be truthful," he explains.
Acknowledging the position his industry has put him in, he stated:
"It's difficult for me to make this video, not because I'm ashamed of being a gay male artist or a gay artist or a gay person. But it's pretty silly to know that I'm ashamed of doing this knowing that because I'm in a genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me."
Still, he said he's happy to be out in the open now, excited to serve his community. "I've been an advocate for so many things in my life that I thought why not now be an advocate for me and the cause that I believe in with my whole heart?"