Ty Herndon’s revelation on Thursday that he is “an out and proud and happy gay man” has inspired fellow country singer, Billy Gilman to also come out publically.
Billy, who had his first hit “One Voice” in 2000 at the age of 12, decided to tell his story in a personal YouTube video, where he describes the challenges he’s encountered as a closeted gay man in the country music business.
“Being a gay male country artist is not the best thing,” he says. “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 … knowing that I’m in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”
He recounts how, when he recently came back with new music, that despite having sold over 5 million records, no major labels were interested in meeting with him. He recently put on a showcase in Nashville, and not one major label representative attended.
Billy considered coming out after an incident in Rhode Island during a promotional visit for his latest single “Say You Will.”
“Coincidentally I ran into this reporter at a local fall festival with my partner, someone who I’m happily now sharing my life with,” Billy says. “This reporter took a picture of us and it was in that moment that I knew that I’d rather it be from me than you reading it somewhere else.”
“I wanted my fans who have stuck by me for many, many years to know.”
Billy adds that he’s had support from many friends in the music business. “The country artists that literally I grew up in front of – Keith Urban and Vince [Gill] and LeAnn Rimes and all these wonderful friends of mine – have been nothing but supportive. Not that they knew, but they’ve all been such wonderful people.”
Watch the emotional interview below: