Brothers Oborne frontman T.J. Osborne is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.
In a new interview with TIME published Wednesday, Feb. 3, the country music star came out as gay. The revelation makes Osborne the first openly gay performer signed to a major country record label.
Despite coming out to his friends and family years ago, T.J. explained that his prior hesitation to publicly address his sexuality is partially tied to the industry's notoriously conservative values.
"People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?' and personally, I agree with that," he remarked. "But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn't be like, ‘Oh, cool!"
Even still, the 36 year old is "very comfortable being gay," telling the magazine, "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."
John recalled their "very open and candid" conversation after T.J. first came out to him in his mid-twenties. "I was emotional," he described, "because my brother was finally able to be completely honest with me about who he was. How often, in life, do we hold back parts of ourselves and wish that we didn't?"
By coming out to the world, T.J. hopes to appeal to a broader, more inclusive group of potential country music fans.
Kacey Musgraves, who considers T.J. a close friend, said as much, telling TIME, "Others will now feel invited to the country music party for the first time. Country music deserves a future even more honest than its past."
"I've done more than I ever thought I would," T.J. added. "At this point, my happiness is more valuable than anything else I'd ever be able to achieve."