T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne Reveals He’s Gay

T.J. and John Osborne

Low octave lead singer T.J. Osborne of the mainstream country rock brother duo Brothers Osborne has revealed that he is gay. In an extended piece published in TIME Magazine on Wednesday (2-3), T.J. says, “I’m ready to put this behind me.” Signaling he doesn’t want to make a big deal about it, but also wanted to get it out of the way, the 36-year-old says, “I’m very comfortable being gay.”

Though TIME says T.J. is the only openly gay artist signed to a major country label, this deserves a little context. Brandy Clark, Orville Peck, and Brandi Carlile are all officially on major label imprints, though they’re outside of the Music Row sphere. Other major label country artists have come out after reaching commercial prominence, including Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman in November of 2014, Chely Wright who revealed she was gay in 2010, and Canada’s K.D. Lang came out as she was moving from a country to pop in the early 90’s. The often-overlooked 3rd original member of Sugarland, Kristen Hall, was also gay.

Nonetheless, T.J. is arguably the most high-profile personality in mainstream country, and one of the first males to come out during what might be considered the peak of his career. “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. People will ask, ‘Why does this even need to be talked about?’ and personally, I agree with that.”

Though the brother duo has struggled to make significant traction on country radio aside from their #2 song “Stay a Little Longer” from 2015, and their sales put them solidly in the 2nd tier of major label country stars, Brothers Osborne have always enjoyed strong critical acclaim as a healthier alternative to Bro-Country duo Florida Georgia Line and other Bro-Country acts that came to prominence at about the same time. The brothers won the CMA Vocal Duo of the Year in 2016, 2017, and 2018, as well as the ACM Duo of the Year in 2016 and 2017. They’ve also been nominated for seven Grammy Awards.

The Brothers Osborne sound is a bit more rock than country, buoyed by John Osborne’s guitar licks and compositional approach, and the announcement from T.J. comes after the October 2020 release of their latest record Skeletons, which took the act in an even more distinct arena rock direction. The album started slow, debuting at #4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and currently is not in the Top 100. The album’s lead single “All Night” peaked at #25 on radio, and the duo has yet to release a followup.

T.J. says he’s not super worried about how his announcement will be received, but he’s still cautious. “I don’t think I’m going to get run off the stage in Chicago,” he says. “But in a rural town playing a county fair? I’m curious how this will go … But is that just because they’ve never had the opportunity to relate to it?”

Meanwhile his brother John completely supports the decision. “How often, in life, do we hold back parts of ourselves and wish that we didn’t? If I had to have all my money and success erased for my brother to be truly fulfilled in life, I wouldn’t even think about it. Not for a second.”

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