Brothers Osborne won vocal duo of the year at the 2021 CMA Awards, held at Nashville. But what stole the show was when TJ, who had only come out of the closet this February, rose to embrace boyfriend Abi Ventura before going on stage to accept the award. They won for their album LP Skeletons and churning out consistently country hits like “Skeletons” and “Younger me”. TJ’s act invited a lot of support, appreciation and love from fans and supporters all over the world, especially the LGBTQ community.
Brothers Osborne started out into country music after signing a record deal under EMI Records Nashville in 2012 and began releasing music next year onwards. Their “Stay a Little Longer” became a top five hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and soon the band had quite a few albums to their credit like Pawn Shop, Port Saint Joe and Skeletons. When the nominees were read out both the brothers, TJ and John seemed anxious, having been nominated for two CMAs previously in different categories including album of the year and winning neither. But when their names were read out, there was a collective applause and sheer evocation of joy as the siblings greeted each other and then their respective partners; John shared a smooch with wife Lucie Silvas while the 36 year old TJ kissed boyfriend Ventura in front of the audience. Later on stage he commented on his homosexuality saying ,”It’s been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally,” and went on to thank his fans and supporters for their love and understanding.
TJ came out of the closet this February in an interview with TIME magazine and was more or less apprehensive and intimidated by the response of the country music pioneers and aficionados. He listed his brother, John as one of his strongest pillars that he could always rely on when he was going through this emotional turmoil. As the interview proceeded he revealed how he has always known and been comfortable with his lifestyle and sexual preference and being gay was more of who he was as a person rather than his only identity. However he had his reservations and guards up when it came to opening up to others previously, since the country music industry and especially the field of country rock has had a conservative approach. He further added how often as a gay person in the music industry he has felt marginalized and as a result he has tried to downplay that aspect of him previously, but when he came out the tsunami of love and appreciation he has received was extremely overwhelming.
“Had I known that the whole time, I would have done it probably a long time ago and saved myself a lot of strife,” he added. As TJ exited the stage to a standing ovation, his brother and band member, John Osbourne chimed in, “Give this boy a round of applause. We love this genre, we love the people, we love all of you so much.”
After coming out as gay publicly, TJ went onto write the song “Younger Me” which struck a chord among many and became one of the greatest hits from their album LP Skeletons. According to him, it kind of regaled his experience with homosexuality, coming to terms with it and how meaningful it felt when he got to perform the same in front of all country music connoisseurs. He hoped his journey, his music and his story would inspire others from the community to step up and break the shackles of fear, anxiety and social unacceptance and finally be able to step in their own shoes and be comfortable in their own skins. TJ noted, “it’s one of those things that just kind of transcends the awards itself, money itself, fame.”
The CMA Awards, hosted by Luke Bryan, are broadcasting live from Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.