Last year, T.J. Osborne surprised fans with his public announcement about his sexuality. The 36-year-old country musician got real in a TIME magazine interview and revealed that he is gay – and he has been for actually a very long time. And though he isn’t the first queer artist in country music, his revelation was definitely a historic moment for the genre. That is because T.J. is the very first openly gay artist signed to a major record label.
But who is T.J. Osborne? Well, for those who don’t know him yet and want to get to know him, here are 15 you-should-definitely-know facts about the country singer.
1. He was born on November 18, 1984, in Deale, Maryland.
The now 37-year-old artist grew up in a small blue-collar town called Deale, located south of Maryland. His dad is a plumber, while his mom is a dresser. He has an older brother named John Thomas (named after their father and where his name was also derived), a sister named Natalie, and two other half-siblings.
2. Their family lived in a trailer before they moved into a duplex.
In an interview with RISEN magazine, he said that they didn’t have much as a family, but having each other was (and always will be) everything to them, and they considered themselves lucky.
3. He shared a bed with his older brother John until John graduated high school.
From the trailer, they moved into a duplex, and he had to share a bed with John until his older brother graduated from high school. And growing up, there were times that they would go home after school, and there would be no electricity because their dad couldn’t pay the electric bill.
4. Just like most country musician origin stories, T.J. grew up in a musically-inclined family.
Their family loved to host acoustic jam sessions during the weekend. And he and his sister Natalie loved to perform alongside their big brother’s (who they call Big John) blues band in local shows. Now, Natalie works as a publisher in Nashville at Downtown Music while T.J. and John went on to form a country duo now popularly known as Brothers Osborne.
5. His family has been nothing short of supportive of him.
Not only were his parents’ music lovers and players (and songwriters as well), but they were also big-time dreamers. So, they have always been encouraging to him and his siblings. T.J. and John picked up the guitar and learned how to play it at a very young age.
6. T.J. discovered his sexuality at a young age, but it was only in his mid-twenties that he revealed it to anyone else.
T.J. first revealed that he is gay to his brother John. They just signed a publishing deal in Nashville, and he was just open and candid about it. On the other hand, John felt emotional that his brother was finally able to be honest with him.
7. But before he came out to his family and friends, T.J. suffered long years alone and isolated.
In his interview with TIME, T.J. said that those years were painful for him. And it was especially difficult going through his first heartbreak alone.
8. He wrote the fan-favorite track “21 Summers” following that heartbreak, and he would often feel so sad when he sings it on stage.
At the time, T.J. was still closeted, and since he had no one to share his feelings with, he turned to music to release everything and feel comforted.
9. He formed the country duo Brothers Osborne with his brother John in 2012.
John was the first one to go to Nashville, and T.J. followed him after two years. But it wasn’t until years later that they decided to perform together as a duo. Back then, John was in a band called King Billy, but whenever he wasn’t playing with them, he was performing with T.J. People thought they had a naturally great camaraderie, and that led to an organic process of them forming their country duo and signing with EMI Records Nashville.
10. Brothers Osborne’s first hit was their 2015 single “Stay a Little Longer,” which peaked at number five on the charts.
Not only did this song jumpstart their career, but it was also their very first nod towards an inclusive community. The song’s music video featured gay and interracial couples. And after that, the duo found themselves slowly rising into the limelight.
11. As of now, the Brothers Osborne has earned more than half a dozen hits, six Grammy nominations, four CMA Awards, and five ACM trophies.
12. T.J. Osborne officially came out last February 2021, and he is the very first openly gay artist signed to a major record label.
And the response to his revelation was overwhelmingly positive and more than anything the country singer ever expected.
13. T.J. is happily in love with his boyfriend, Abi Ventura.
Of course, everyone’s curious as to who T.J. Osborne’s boyfriend is, and luckily for us, he is no longer a mystery. That man is Abi Ventura. The two even shared a celebratory kiss when the country duo won the vocal duo of the year at the 2021 CMA Awards.
14. In 2018, he and his brother John gifted their mom with a new house!
Our sweet, strong mother is one of the main reasons we are who we are. Sacrificed so much for us growing up. She lived in a single wide trailer in Delaware until now. She deserves a mansion in the hills but we bought her humble home close to us in Nashville. Welcome home mom! https://t.co/GmWMfTa2Us— Brothers Osborne (@brothersosborne) July 1, 2018
15. Last but not the least, according to John, T.J. is a very stubborn person.
In an interview, John confessed that T.J.’s stubbornness has definitely drawn him up the wall so many times. But at the same time, it was also something that he admired about him as it allows T.J. to be strong-minded in situations where someone needs to be that way.