Ty Herndon Came Out As 1st Gay Man in Mainstream Country Music. Here’s How Nashville Has Treated Him

Ty Herndon topped the country radio music charts in the mid-90s with hits like “What Mattered Most” and “Living in a Moment.”

Herndon is now back with a new album titled “House on Fire,” but there is a difference this time around for the singer.

This is the first album he’s released since coming out as gay two years ago.

Herndon knew what could happen to his singing career when he made up his mind to come out.

The singer tells The Seattle Times:

“I knew there was a risk that I couldn’t be in country music, and I had to be OK with that, but by the grace of God, I didn’t have to do that. The fans were amazing and the industry was amazing. And here two years later, it still feels like it was yesterday.”

Despite his fears, Herndon has felt the support from his longtime fans and gained some new ones, too:

“I have a lot of die-hard country fans who have been with me a long time and are still right there and I have a legion of brand new fans, within the young country listeners, within the LGBT community.”

The positive response that Herndon felt is a dramatic difference from the one his fellow country artist, Chely Wright, described after she came out in 2010.

In an interview with CBS, the Wright explains how she felt Nashville treated her:

“As my friend said, ‘I don’t think (the rejection is) going to be fire and brimstone, I think they’re going to freeze her out.'”

Herndon and Wright have both shared similar stories when referring to their faith and childhood memories. Herndon said, “I was at a tent revival when I was 10 years old and a traveling evangelist was preaching on the sins of homosexuality, I became this withdrawn, unhappy kid.” Now, as an adult he reveals, “My foundation is not cracked, my faith in God is real.”

Wright turned to her faith when she was young because of the feelings she was experiencing. Wright would say a prayer every day as a 10-year-old child saying, “Dear God please don’t let me be gay, I’ll be a good person, I won’t steal, I won’t lie, I’ll do anything, but please just take it away.”

Wright explained the negative response she felt from the country community by saying:

“It’s…a rejection mostly because I would like to hear a country music artist, the big ones, not just say, ‘Well, I like Chely. I like her even though she’s gay.’ I need a country artist who is a big deal, like Jay-Z in his community; He came forward and said, ‘I believe in equality for all.’ I’m struggling because I have not heard that from the big stars in country music.”

A big name in country music just reacted to news Herndon is coming out with a new album in the way Wright wished for herself. TMZ caught up with Blake Shelton in a Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot and asked the singer if the country music community was rallying around Herndon’s new music.

Shelton seemed excited about Herndon’s music and unfazed by the question, saying:

“Probably, I hope they are. I’m excited to hear it. I didn’t know he was putting out a record so, I’m excited. I love Ty Herndon. I got a lot of his music on my iPod.”

When Shelton was asked if the album would be successful despite Herndon’s sexual orientation, he said the music would be the thing that determined its success.

Herndon performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on November 18th, which might give credence to Shelton’s opinion that being gay in Nashville in 2016 doesn’t matter:

“I don’t think there is a stigma.”

Watch Shelton’s TMZ run-in here…

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