Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne came out as gay in a Feb. 2021 interview with Time. That November at the 2021 CMA Awards, TJ and his boyfriend, Abi Ventura, shared an on-camera kiss after Brothers Osborne --the duo of TJ and his brother John-- won Vocal Duo of the Year.
"It's been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally," TJ said during the duo's acceptance speech. "And to have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins tonight. Thank you."
John Osborne responded by insisting that the crowd give his brother a round of applause for his unflinching honesty.
During the broadcast, the brothers performed "Younger Me," an autobiographical song about TJ's journey as an LGBTQ+ country star that's since won the Brothers Osborne its first Grammy award.
"For many years I would watch this show, year after year, and I always thought how incredible it'd be and I'd dream of being here on this stage, and there were so many things that were so many hurdles for me," TJ said before the CMA Awards performance. "And I always truthfully felt like it would never be possible because of my sexuality to be here. And I just wish - I wish! - my younger me could see me now."
Fan reaction on social media was largely positive about what was likely the first time a same-sex kiss was broadcast on a country music awards show, with one tweet reading: "Let me tell you seeing an openly gay man win a award & the cameras not cut away when he kissed his date, is not something I thought I'd see in my lifetime. Happy to be proven wrong. Hell yes TJ Osborne!!!!!"
At the 2022 Grammys, TJ and Ventura became red carpet official as a couple.
Meet Abi Ventura
Born Abiezer Ventura in Mexico, TJ's boyfriend studied at Tennessee College of Applied Technology and currently lives in Chicago.
For the most part, the couple keeps their romantic life private, with pics and other details remaining scarce. However, TJ did open up to Entertainment Tonight's Rachel Smith after the 2021 CMA Awards in Nashville about finding love, sharing that Ventura is "very, very sweet. He's my boyfriend, and he's a cutie."
"I was like, 'I hope this doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, but this is how I feel'," TJ added. "I love this person, and I want to be open in every way. Hopefully it can show people that they also don't need to hide or alter themselves in any way."
In his history-making Time Magazine interview, TJ shared that "I'm very comfortable being gay. 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," he continued. "But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn't be like, 'Oh, cool!' I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am. I mean, I am who I am, but I've kept a part of me muted, and it's been stifling."
This story previously ran on Nov. 12, 2021.
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.