By Colin Stutz
Country singer Billy Gilman came out as gay online Thursday, hours after fellow country act Ty Herndon revealed he was gay as well.
The former child country star — best known for 2000’s tender “One Voice” — broke the news in a personal video posted to YouTube, addressing his fans with a clear nervousness.
“Today a fellow country artist and friend made it easier for me to make this video,” he says in the clip. “And I wanted my fans who have stuck by me for many, many years to know.”
Gilman tells a story of being caught by a reporter in Rhode Island at a local fall festival while he was there with his partner — “somebody who I am now, happily, sharing my life with,” he says. “And 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 and probably filled with not-truth.”
The singer continues, with an explanation of how difficult it is to be a gay country singer and how he has felt prejudice in Nashville based on rumors over his sexuality.
“Being a gay male country artist is not the best thing,” he says. “If people don’t like your music, that’s one thing. But after selling over 5 million records, having a wonderful life in the music industry, I knew something was wrong when no major label wanted to sit down and have a meeting and listen to the new stuff. … It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed to be a gay male artist, or a gay artist, or a gay person, but it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that because I’m in a genre in an industry that is ashamed of me for being me.”
Gilman thanks Herndon as well, who he says he’s “known and been a fan of, and congratulations on such a courageous effort.”
“I’ve been going back and forth on how to approach this and rather than do it on some talk show, I thought I’d do it in front of a simple camera, very personal,” Gilman says. “I’ve been an advocate for so many things in my life I thought now why not be an advocate for me and for the cause that I believe in with my whole heart.”