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Ty Herndon

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Country singer Ty Herndon has come out as gay.

After years of hiding the truth about his sexual orientation, the musician is finally speaking out publically about his homosexuality. "I'm an out, proud and happy gay man," Herndon tells People.

Herndon says he first wondered if he was gay when he was just a young boy. "I was 10, sitting in church and horrified that I might be a homosexual," He recalls. "Whatever that word meant, I knew that I probably was one. And I know there's a lot of those kids still out there. Telling my story is an opportunity to help just one of them."

Herndon started coming out to close family members when he was 20. "My mother probably knew I was gay before I did. I remember sitting down with her and having the conversation," he says. "She was more concerned about me having a happy life. You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career."

Before meeting his longtime partner, Matt, Herndon was twice married to two different women. "I've done a lot of work around forgiveness with people that I've hurt and people I've not been honest with because of my sexuality," he tells the mag.

Five years ago, Herndon finally had a revelation about sharing his story with fans. "During an Anthony Robbins seminar, I realized I had an incredible story that could possibly help someone's son or daughter or grandchild's life not be as difficult as mine has been," he revealed. "Maybe they wouldn't have to go through as much pain and suffering. It's time to tell my truth."

Today, Herndon wants LGBT youths who grew up like him to know to know this: "They can be loved by God, they can be married one day, they can have a family, they can give their parents grandkids. And they're not broken, they're not sinners and they're perfectly beautiful."