T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne Reveals He’s Gay
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.”
February 3, 2021 @ 7:19 pm
I’m a longtime lurker here — but I am so happy for TJ and how much support he’s received from other artists today. I’m bisexual and while some people “say why do we have to talk about this” – representation matters, and being able to live in your honest truth matters, too. Straight people never have to question if their sexuality will be accepted everywhere they go. Seeing someone in our community celebrated – for being themselves AND for their talent – is just so beautiful.
February 3, 2021 @ 9:32 pm
I’m glad he came out, but unless your a very conservative Christian, people are not going to care if he is gay or not. It’s just not that big of a deal anymore.
strait country 81
February 4, 2021 @ 5:55 am
I came out to my parents back in November and my mom tried sending me to conversion therapy but I’m 23 not living at home anymore so can’t be forced into that kind of thing.
Cool Lester Smooth
February 4, 2021 @ 7:42 am
Jesus, sorry to hear that, man.
Glad you stood up for yourself, and were honest with them.
strait county 81
February 4, 2021 @ 8:48 am
It’s no huge deal just feel like a dumbass for being so oblivious to it.
February 4, 2021 @ 7:40 am
Maybe where you live it’s not considered a big deal. But I promise you in much of middle and southern America I promise you homophobia is alive and well.
February 4, 2021 @ 8:43 am
Which is where a lot of very religious people live. But again your regular average person does not care whether your gay or not.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:11 pm
That’s a pretty big assumption you’re making there.
Not to mention bigoted.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:40 pm
Dave, I live in East TN and I’m a Christian who goes to church. I don’t agree with your comment. Renee, it’s *you’re.
February 4, 2021 @ 3:55 pm
I think it depends on your age. Tennessee is full of anti-gay rhetoric. The younger generation accepts it, but older citizens post crap on social media, calling gays “perverts.” I have found that have people that have a problem with gays are simply trying to make themselves feel better about their own “sins” according to the Bible.
Sen. Blackburn and Hagerty voted “No” to Mayor Pete being a part of Biden’s administration. That pretty much sums it up.
February 3, 2021 @ 7:23 pm
I don’t like this band’s type of music, but I wish this guy well with clearing the air so to speak.
February 3, 2021 @ 7:32 pm
I think one thing that could be a bad look is that I feel these guys have slowly started to lose traction and popularity and if you look at where their albums have been placing on the charts, it kinda shows that also, although I can’t seem to find actual sales numbers in their latest. If their downward trend keeps going as far as charts and album sales, don’t think for a minute that the media is not to jump all over this as the reason. I think TJ will be treated fairly by fans, at least I hope so. I am sure it is a huge relief off of his shoulders.
John R Baker
February 3, 2021 @ 7:34 pm
It kind of seems like Shane McAnally should count but he is mostly behind the scenes and known to professionals rather than fans. So this does seem like and important cultural moment. I suspect it’s going to be a bit anti-climatic in the end but it’s still got to be tough taking the chance.
February 3, 2021 @ 7:40 pm
I haven’t listened to their latest album yet, but I really enjoyed the first two. Not all of their songs are country, there’s some country rock vibes and yacht rock mixed in, but it’s all good stuff. These guys are super talented. The live show was legit, I was so stoked to see them.
February 3, 2021 @ 7:46 pm
What the actual hell. Time magazine?
February 4, 2021 @ 1:12 pm
Next article: “Bat Boy Barred from ACMs! Saw Trump face in Alabama thunderstorm and exalted angrily!”
February 3, 2021 @ 8:00 pm
I remember looking around at their show and thinking “yeah, this guy probably shouldn’t come out”. I’m painting with broad strokes here, but it was a pretty bro-y crowd. And I’d say my town is right in between Chicago and rural town county fair, so it’ll be interesting to see the impact of this. No matter what, it’s great he gets to live more openly now. Maybe this will impact the music, too. Remember when the tag line for Skeletons was “if you want to get to know the real us, this is the album”, and then it turned out to be pretty generic country-rock? Maybe the next one will be more interesting.
Cool Lester Smooth
February 4, 2021 @ 7:39 am
Ah, millennial/Zoomer bros won’t give a shit, haha – by their 20s, a bunch of old teammates from HS will have come out, haha.
This is an unqualified good thing, for TJ.
February 4, 2021 @ 8:57 am
I suspect the whole Skeletons album cycle and tour, and the “get to know the real us” concept, was intended to culminate with TJ coming out, but the pandemic sort of swept those plans aside.
I’m not gonna go so far as to say this was probably a cold calculation on the part of the band, but I can’t help but think this was in the cards all along. If anything, and I know we all hate the “mono genre”, I think this band can now position themselves as more of a crossover country/rock/pop band with wide sociopolitical appeal. They’re not too traditional and not too pop. They’ve got enough chops, credibility, and respect. There are far worse candidates to fill that kind of role (Lil Was X, for example). I’m really curious to see how things unfold for them going forward.
Cool Lester Smooth
February 4, 2021 @ 9:04 am
Yeah, they seem to be angling for that niche the Zac Brown Band occupied before Jekyll+Hyde sent them downhill.
Those guys had some monster hits, and some genuinely great tunes, before they strayed from their core.
February 7, 2021 @ 11:20 pm
Look this up in God’s word the Bible ,his word is the winner so …..
February 11, 2021 @ 7:11 pm
Winner to who? Everyone instinctively knows what is right or wrong and most of us don’t need a bible to tell us what’s up. I grew up in a holy roller town in TX and those bible thumpers were far more un-Christian than anyone I’ve ever met
mouths of babes
February 3, 2021 @ 8:11 pm
If it feels good, do it.
February 3, 2021 @ 8:12 pm
I have never been too fond of these guys because of how political they get. This doesn’t change how I feel about them at all. Still don’t care for them. I don’t care if he’s gay or not, they aren’t what country music should be. Give me more Randall King, George Strait, Cody Johnson, Aaron Watson, Riley Green, Luke Combs, etc. Rock singers (and hardcore liberals) calling themselves country isn’t country IMO/YMMV.
February 3, 2021 @ 10:28 pm
I don’t thinking “coming out” is a political thing.
Just like how the grass is green & the sky is blue.
Not political because there’s nothing to debate or understand.
Love is love. It is what it is.
February 3, 2021 @ 11:34 pm
I’m not referring to this particular thing and “coming out” when I talk about them being political. I’m referring to their years of political and ultra leftist BS ever since they came on to the scene.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:29 am
Gotta love how people always want to fundamentally change the genre they claim to love.
February 5, 2021 @ 6:16 am
Funny because in my experience the genre is fundamentally left leaning, with a few exceptions, so I am unsure what “people want to fundamentally about it”.
February 4, 2021 @ 8:58 am
What “ultra leftists BS” are we talking about here? I haven’t heard/seen anything too controversial from them.
Cool Lester Smooth
February 4, 2021 @ 9:05 am
I can’t think of a more innocuous band, haha.
February 11, 2021 @ 2:31 am
What is “ultra leftist” in country music circles? Believing in equal opportunity employment? I live in Houston TX and even in a large metro area like this, the fact that I’m gay becomes an issue more often than it has to despite the fact that I live a quiet, low key life. Sorry, but anti-gay BS is still alive and well in southern states. Congrats to TJ.
February 4, 2021 @ 9:00 am
I assume you don’t consider Willie Nelson to be country then because he is also an extreme liberal. The right wing side doesn’t get the sole claim to country.
Willie Nielson Ratings
February 4, 2021 @ 12:50 pm
Somehow I doubt you’re going to get a response to that one.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:59 pm
I have found most the legendary performers in country music would fall much more on the left than right side of the spectrum, Willie, Johnny, Dolly etc etc etc. I have never understood why what we call conservatism in this country has anything to do with country music.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:27 am
I listened to their music. I like a couple of songs. It is not bad stuff but it doesn’t belong in country music.
The concept is misleading. He isn’t a country music singer as Trigger proves. Just another carpetbagger in a lost list unfortunately allowed in.
February 4, 2021 @ 6:03 am
I absolutely love them. I always thought TJ was gay so this is a bit anti-climatic for me. I do believe most country fans are more advanced and not the back woods bigoted bumpkins that the general media makes us out to be. As a big fan of theirs I was disappointed that more singles from Pt St Joe were not released, and Skeletons is struggling. I wonder if all this hoopla might give them a little boost that will then fall off? I am also curious to see if they finally win a Grammy after this revelation. Regardless, I love them, but I can see any future success being attributed to them being liberal media darlings. And if they continue to trend downward, that same media will blame it on country fans being closed-minded. But at least TJ can be himself now. That’s all that matters in the long run.
February 4, 2021 @ 6:16 am
Love their music. Happy for him, and their whole group. Met their drummer Adam a couple times. Super nice guy.
February 4, 2021 @ 7:59 am
I like ‘em, and I wish them well. Pawn Shop was fun, Port Saint Joe was solid, Skeletons not so much. Curious to see how this plays out with industry and fans. I think the industry will embrace them with open arms (the band will get a big PR boost for sure) but some fans may go cold, especially the men.
I feel like country music is heavily rooted in traditional heteronormative themes (no value judgement there, neither good nor bad) and even if they’re not full blown homophobes some fans might subconsciously shy away from this band given enough time.
It’s really too bad about the pandemic. I think there would’ve been a great opportunity here for the band to ride the PR wave and cement themselves as a fun arena band with broad appeal. Part of me thinks that’s what the Skeletons (“in the closet” get it?) album cycle was intended to be.
February 4, 2021 @ 9:59 am
I’m a straight white American man. Folks like me have been getting hated on for quite a while now but I’m proud of what I am so if this guy and anyone like him deserve praise, I feel like I deserve praise for being me. What a bunch of bullshit. Shouldn’t even be news.
February 4, 2021 @ 10:14 am
T.J. agrees with you that this shouldn’t be news. And hopefully in a couple more years, it isn’t. I think the reason it’s news is because the people that make news assume country fans will have a problem with it en masse. That didn’t happen. Instead there was understanding, acceptance, or some just not caring because they don’t see it as their business. My guess is T.J. is elated, and some in the media are disappointed.
February 4, 2021 @ 12:27 pm
Unfortunately in 2021 it’s still is news and TJ said it himself he is worried about his conservative Christian Fanbase aka small town America. “The people who make news assume country fans will have a problem with it en mass” they will Because most of country fans are conservative Christians?! And trigger did you reach out to TJ himself and ask him what percentage of positive feedback he got versus negative or did you just look through Twitter and count how many positive versus negative tweets he got? I I guess I’m not sure how you know that the news was met with it all understanding and acceptance?
February 4, 2021 @ 1:22 pm
T.J. posted a video yesterday thanking everyone for the outpouring of love, as well as mention he’d received a warm reception on Ellen today. No, I did not hear from T.J. this morning. He was busy appearing on Ellen.
I’m not trying to downplay the potential at backlash against him. I just haven’t seen it. Most Christians I know have moved well beyond considering this an issue, as has the Pope and many Christian organizations.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:54 pm
All I’m saying is you don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and I didn’t say Christians I said conservative Christians there’s a big difference!
February 4, 2021 @ 12:57 pm
One reason why it’s likely not a big deal with fans is because they aren’t huge stars. If someone like Kenny Chesney or Luke Bryan came out, I have a feeling there would be more of a “problem” with some of the older fans.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:24 pm
You might be right. That is one of the reasons I tried to set the context of their sales and such in this article. Not to diminish Brothers Osborne whatsoever. They have done more than most. But they are solidly in the 2nd tier of popular country. But still, I think society has moved on from this being problematic for most.
February 4, 2021 @ 3:05 pm
Right and this guy is no A-lister. The average Joe won’t know who TJ Osborne is- maybe they will know who “Brothers Osborne” is but not TJ.
mouths of babes
February 4, 2021 @ 10:02 pm
I thought Kenny Chesney was gay. I was under the impression that when he got divorced from Renee Zellweger for ‘fraud’, that meant that he wasn’t straight.
February 4, 2021 @ 3:31 pm
Typical “zero-sum” argument that’s been used by reactionaries since time began. Recognizing someone who isn’t straight, white, male and Christian somehow threatens, and equates to bigotry against, anyone who IS straight, white, male and Christian. We can’t let two people of the same sex or of different races get married because it threatens the supremacy of marriage between two of the opposite sex and the same race. We can’t give Black people the vote because they’ll use the vote to rule over Whites. The fashions change over the generations, but the zero-sum concept never dies.
Good for you, T.J.
February 6, 2021 @ 6:50 am
The difference here Rusty is that lgbtq people don’t just get hated on. For thousands of years we’ve been disowned, beat up, and murdered for our sexuality. No one is disowning you as a kid, or beating you up, or killing you because you’re str8. That’s why you don’t deserve to be celebrated for being straight.
February 6, 2021 @ 11:41 am
It’s the life you chose. If you and him were born that way you deserve to be celebrated as much as I, cause I was born this way.
February 6, 2021 @ 11:47 am
We didn’t choose this life Rusty. Lgbtq people deserve to be celebrated for our accomplishments because we have to overcome so many more obstacles to achieve them than straight people. You as a straight person have never had to overcome sexuality based discrimination as a straight person. You can be proud of being straight but it will never be the same as being proud of being lgbtq bc you’ve never experienced half the shit we go through daily. Have a nice day.
February 11, 2021 @ 2:45 am
How dumb are you? People are born gay. There have been gay people on earth since the beginning of time and will be here until the end of time. That’s life. If being gay was a choice, who would choose the bullying and harassment that comes with being gay from a-holes like you? Who would choose to have their parents kick them out of the house for being gay or being estranged from their family? In any case, not sure what you have to gain by your contrarian BS. No one tells you how to live your life or how to screw your wife- with a mustache and mullet no doubt. Wake up, Rusty, it’s 2021. You are being left behind…
February 11, 2021 @ 9:53 am
No my friend, I am not and like I said, if people are born gay than there should be no great congratulatory response when someone comes out. And you try to act all high and mighty by supporting everyone except for those who disagree with you, like myself. You are no better than how you claim I am. And I didnt calle anyone names or say anything about their appearance so why do you think it’s ok for you to?
February 4, 2021 @ 10:28 am
Now we know why he believes in “Weed, Whiskey and WILLIE.”
JK. Good for him.
February 11, 2021 @ 2:49 am
These comments are always so dumb. When a hetero male singer or celebrity gets married, do you say “Now we now he likes pussy and pussy juice!!” Of course not. Puts this in perspective. No offense but lots of immature straight dudes get real nervous about the gay topic and default to dick jokes.
February 11, 2021 @ 10:01 am
I’m sorry, KYLE, but it looks like my immature penis joke went over your woke offended head. See, Weed, Whiskey & Willie is a Brothers Osborne song that I actually really really like. If Wheeler Walker Jr got married again then maybe I’d be able to make a joke about “pussy and pussy juice.” Cuz he sings about that stuff. But I chose the low hanging fruit of making a penis joke that in my humble opinion is actually kind of clever given the context. My brothers gay. My dads gay. You know nothing about me or any other “immature white dude” posting here. Dickhead.
February 11, 2021 @ 7:21 pm
You’ve already said everything that needs to be said about the yourself. My point is this: I used to work at a popular call in radio show, and any time any gay related topic came up, the 2 hetero male DJs and some of the callers would tense up and start making stupid dick jokes as a way to deal with their awkwardness. It was like clockwork. And you proved my point.
February 4, 2021 @ 10:33 am
So, I actually just read the Time article. It’s good, poignant stuff, and I get the feeling these brothers are good guys with their heads on straight (no pun intended), with the announcement feeling more than anything else like a formality to get out of the way so they can just move on with their lives and careers. I mean, the part about TJ having to tell his date to not hold his hand, or wait in the car so nobody sees them together, is heartbreaking. That’s a bullshit way to live, gay, straight, whatever. I hope this coming out brings TJ some peace, and I hope audiences will continue to judge the band solely on the content of their art and talent rather than anything else.
February 4, 2021 @ 11:15 am
By the way since there’s been a couple of questions about it, the reason I didn’t turn this news into a big to-do is because I just don’t think it is, and reading T.J.’s comments, he doesn’t want a big to-do to be make about it either, and doesn’t think it should be a big deal. And it shouldn’t, and it isn’t. That ship has sailed. Most folks accept everyone for who they are, even in country music, despite the portrayal of the media. Sure, there’s exceptions. But really, this was a formality. I don’t see this affecting Brothers Osborne one bit.
February 4, 2021 @ 10:35 am
Good for him. All Night is still annoying as hell.
February 4, 2021 @ 1:13 pm
Your move, Chesney.
February 4, 2021 @ 3:35 pm
Actually Chris Young…
February 4, 2021 @ 3:55 pm
Congratulations T.J.! Sending all of the love and support his way. I’m so proud of him. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 4, 2021 @ 6:42 pm
Where’s my comment? Are you no longer allowing dissent on this topic, or only certain dissent?
February 4, 2021 @ 7:05 pm
No, I am not going to allow divisive comments on this topic. I appreciate your understanding.
King Honky Of Crackershire
February 5, 2021 @ 6:12 am
I don’t understand why you’d disallow your Father in Heaven’s perspective. I just needed you to confirm why you were deleting me.
February 5, 2021 @ 1:32 pm
Do you specifically come to the website every day just to post demeaning things and argue with Trigger? You comment on almost everything and it’s almost always negative.
February 5, 2021 @ 5:12 am
In other breaking news, water is wet, and the Pope wears a funny hat. A brief look at his Instagram page told us that a long time ago.
February 5, 2021 @ 11:33 am
Seriously! No one noticed the extra guy mixed in with the Osbornes at every function…? I think, as someone noted above, John and TJ are not superstars so I guess this “flew under the radar” til now.
February 5, 2021 @ 10:10 am
It was only a matter of time until identity politics made its way into country music.
I’m glad most of my country heroes are long time dead and didn’t have to deal with the perpetually offended.
February 11, 2021 @ 2:58 am
And what, exactly, is identity politics? Do you mean the country singer singing about how he likes to get drunk every weekend and screw women because his “identity” is a macho stud or the holy roller country singer talking about Jesus and his Xtian identity or the female singer talking about how proud she is to be a woman? Aren’t those identities? We all have personal identities that we talk and sing about. That is identity politics. Educate yourself – you sound like a fool.
February 11, 2021 @ 10:43 am
Look it up before calling someone else a fool.
February 6, 2021 @ 9:46 am
Good for him. Among other things, living a lie sucks. I knew a friend of mine before and after he came out (this was in the late 80s when it was still a bigger deal) and he was so much happier after, it made a huge difference in his life overall.
February 6, 2021 @ 11:23 am
Where the heck have you been?
February 6, 2021 @ 11:58 am
Have been taking a break from being online so much because holidays and also we just got a new rescued dog and have been busy getting her settled in. Thanks for asking! 💖
February 6, 2021 @ 12:53 pm
Awwww! That is so sweet!
Glad you are Ok.
February 7, 2021 @ 6:34 am
Really who cares but at the same time does this now become more of reason to sell albums and less of a reason to make decent music? So much of the modern music industry is focused on everything but making good music to sell songs. Like hey our record sucks but nevermind that I’m gay now so buy our album to support my cause type of crap. Put the focus back on the music. When I think of Elton John or Freddy Mercury the first thing I think about is their great music not their sexuality. Today we’ve gotten things reversed. Too many artists rely on other things to get our attention besides their music to sell records to us.
Something Always Told Me They Were Reading Tommy Wrong
February 8, 2021 @ 6:45 am
So this is still a big deal in Country music? About the only place that it is. I remember when Rob Halford came out in the 90s. Metal, which has always seemed to me one of the more socially conservative of music scenes (I had some metalhead friends in the 80s, and every other word that came out of their mouths seemed to be ‘faggot’), collectively shrugged and went on listening to his music.
February 8, 2021 @ 8:42 am
I don’t know that it’s a big deal in country. I think it’s a big deal in the media.