Monday, November 24, 2014

Ty Herndon Comes Out ... Then Billy Gilman Does, Too

After nearly two decades in country music and after nearly twenty years of speculation over his sexual orientation, Ty Herndon has come out as gay:
"I have an awesome relationship that I've been in for a good number of years. I] love him very much and he loves me."
Herndon was married twice in the past and revealed that both is ex-wives knew he was gay when they married him; sounds like marriages of convenience to stave off the rumors of his homosexuality.
"I had a lot of people around me that I trusted at a time and I was like, 'Hey, you know this about me but the world doesn't. So I'm gonna need to call on your services for a little while.' It was unfortunate that I had to do that, but I felt that's what I had to do to have my career. Standing on some pretty solid legs today, so I get to tell my truth today."
Truth. That’s what it means; being able to be yourself, love yourself, and let everyone know exactly who you are, damn the torpedoes.
"I've dreamed about being in country music since I was 6 years old. It's my life, it’s what I do, it's who I am, and I went to great lengths to cover up that fact to be to be a country star."
Rumors began circulating about Herndon's sexuality back in 1995, when an undercover male police officer alleged that Herndon exposed himself in a park where he’d gone to buy crystal meth:
"I wish I had really great recall or memory about that. I think I had been up for like 6 days doing drugs the night and the day was really a huge blur for me."
Now fully clean and sober, Herndon is looking forward to a future with Matt, his partner of five years.

Happiness, truthfulness; it’s all in those two words: I‘m gay.

And then, hours later, it happened again …

On the heels of Ty Herndon’s coming out, fellow country music performer Billy Gilman announced that he, too, is gay.

He had his Coming Out on YouTube, and during the five-and-a-half-minute long video, Gilman credited his friend Ty Herndon for making his road a little easier to follow. But, at the same time, he talked about the mere rumor that he might be gay hurt his career, and likely cost him a record deal:
“I threw a showcase in Nashville, and no major label showed. … It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed of being 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 I’m in a genre and an industry that’s ashamed of me for being me.”
Several months ago, a reporter took a picture of Gilman and his partner. He says at that moment he knew what he needed to do.
“It was in that moment that I knew that I’d rather it be from me, than you reading it from somewhere else. I can honestly say I’m scared to death.”
Scared, sure, because you never know what the future holds for you, especially in the country music arena.

I mean, look at it: it appears that Ty Herndon was encouraged to get married twice to maintain a heterosexual image; it seems that just the rumor that Billy Gilman was gay stopped him from signing with a major Nashville record label even though he’d been a very popular child star in country music.

And then there’s Chely Wright.

In the late 90's, after years of singing in Nashville, Chely Wright had her first Number One country hit, "Single White Female".  She followed that up with three other top 10 hits and sold over a million singles in the United States. She made her first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on September 16th, 1989 and made many subsequent appearances, especially after having that Number One. But, since coming out as gay in 2010, Chely Wright she has not once been invited back to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, even though she was considered a regular, pre-2010.

The good news is, that may be changing, slowly. Ty Herndon notes that he’s seeing increased support for gay country singers, and the LGBT community in Nashville and Country Music:
"Traditionally in country music, we don't see a lot of support for the LGBT community, but that's changing so much. Nashville is changing so much. I mean my goodness… Kacey Musgraves won Song of the Year for [the lyrics] 'follow your arrow, wherever it points' and two amazing songwriters that happened to be gay wrote that song."
So, maybe there is hope that gay country artists can record music, can be openly gay, and can be invited back to the Grand Ole Opry.

Failing that, at least allow the good folks at Homo HQ to offer a big “Howdy” and a “Welcome Out” to Ty and Billy, and to make sure they receive the Obligatory Coming Out Toaster Oven and a copy of The Gay Agenda.

Welcome out, boys, welcome out.
Billy Gilman


the dogs' mother said...

Congrats to all (even if it *is* country music... ;-)

Mark in DE said...

I've always felt it better to be hated for being one's true self than to be loved for being a fake. But, I also think it adds another layer of fear when one is depending on being liked in order to have a career. Kudos to both! said...

It’s certainly true that there’s power in numbers, and every time a celebrity comes out it gives young people one more person to relate to, but Herndon and Gilman are hardly heroes. They didn’t cure cancer, they just stopped lying.

I remember a time when gay men risked their lives to be honest about who they loved … when consensual gay sex was against the law and “coming out” was literally a criminal confession. Men and women who revealed their sexuality where killed.

Someone like Daniel Pierce who risked abandonment and homelessness last summer rather than continue to lie about who he was is a hero.

I wish these men well, and hope they find continued happiness now that they can be honest about who they are, but let’s face it … when one declares one’s homosexuality in an interview with PEOPLE one usually has an agenda.

Mr. Herndon’s new book hits shelves in time for Christmas. Coincidence?

Biki Honko said...

So, country music is being dragged kicking and screaming into current society. Now we need people of all colors to break into country music and finally it will look like OUR country.

Bob Slatten said...

I don't think they're heroes, I think they're just finally being honest.

And if we look at the lives of every gay person, and let's face it, we've all been closeted at some point, up to a point, then we're all guilty of being liars.

I just applaud their own acceptance of themselves.