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Country singer Billy Gilman tells GSN coming out publicly was not about selling records

Country singer Billy Gilman tells GSN coming out publicly was not about selling records

Country music singer Billy Gilman finally decided last November that it was time for him to come out to the world as a gay man.

Then the day before he was gong to make his big announcement, fellow country music star Ty Herndon beat him to the punch and did his own coming out.

‘It was purely coincidental,’ Gilman tells Gay Star News. ‘Being so young in the country music industry, I’ve known Ty Herndon and (fellow out country singer) Chely Wright since I was 12 years old so I literally grew up with them. Chely and Ty were literally on the phone within an hour when I released that (coming out) video. It’s a good feeling.’

He had been battling over whether to post his coming out video for three weeks and when he finally decided to do so, and his manager said, ‘Ty Herndon just did the same thing an hour ago.’

Gilman, now 27, was just 11 years old when he debuted with the single One Voice in the year 2000. It was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard country music charts and he became the youngest singer with a Top 40 hit.

His album of the same name went double platinum the following year and two subsequent releases were certified gold. He sold more than 5 million records and seemed to be settling in for a nice, long run.

But his record sales began to slip and as he approached his 20s, music labels wouldn’t even take meetings with him.

There were whispers about his sexuality and for a time, he faded from public view.

His Second Act

But after coming out last fall, he released a new single called Say You Will (see video below) which can be downloaded via the iTunes store. He’s been doing concerts both LGBTI driven and regular country shows since then as well.

‘The purpose of (coming out) was to explain to my fans who I really am and that I have finally found pure happiness and hopefully you’re along with me for the ride,’ he says.

Gilman says the reaction has been more positive and more accepting than he could have imagined.

‘So far, so good,’ he says. ‘It’s been really amazing the outpouring.’

Touching young lives

What has been the most satisfying and the most important thing has been the way young people have reached out to Gilman to share their own stories.

‘There’s been letters and emails by the droves from the youth in Middle America that don’t have the opportunity to voice their feelings because they have very conservative families or come from a very conservative or Republican town.

‘To hear that I somehow became a voice for them and to let them know that everything will be okay – that was the battle won.

‘It’s not about selling records no matter what people may think. It’s about touching lives. All we can really change is ourselves on the inside to make it a better world.’

For Gilman, the entire experience has been even more meaningful because he has someone to share it with – boyfriend of more than a year Chris Meyer.

‘I feel great,’ he says. ‘It feels great to walk around with my best friend, my boyfriend – I don’t like the word partner – it’s great the love that we get back.’