Brothers Osborne's John Osborne is two years older than his brother and band mate T.J.— an age difference that's pretty negligible, at this stage in their adult lives — but Osborne still went into big brother mode when T.J. came out as gay in early 2021. The singer's coming out was a landmark moment for the genre — in so doing, T.J. became the biggest openly gay star signed to a major country label — and as they waited for their industry and fanbase's reaction, the duo prepared for the worst.

"There was a bit of fear or concern or anxiety surrounding it, because you don't know. You can't really predict how anyone's going to react," John acknowledges in a new interview on Southern Living's podcast, Biscuits & Jam.

"I was ready to verbally fight people on Twitter if I had to," John continues. "And fortunately, that never had to happen. It was quite eye-opening for me to know that, 'Wow, we've come a long way as a society to where that, yes, this is news, but it's great news. It's good news for everyone.'"

With few exceptions, T.J.'s announcement was met with a warm welcome, and fans who applauded his decision to share that piece of his story. For his part, the singer explained that he wanted to come out for the sake of feeling as happy and free as possible: He was (and remains) in a relationship that would have been hindered had he kept his sexuality a secret, and keeping that part of his life private was starting to affect his happiness.

"I did feel like that was ultimately affecting my mental health and my relationship with myself and my ability to truly be who I am, and authentic," T.J. acknowledges. "I was just at a point where, you know, the ends didn't justify the means. I think getting to a place to where, 'Okay, I need to be happy.'"

Though no one could have predicted how positive the fan response would be, T.J. points out that the band had been laying the groundwork for his announcement for years.

"I will say that we — which was intentional, from early in our careers — slowly tried to start chipping away at fans that probably wouldn't be okay with that. I mean, if you look at our 'Stay a Little Longer' music video, we had lots of different couples in it, represented lots of different relationships, one of those being a gay couple that was in the video," the singer elaborates. "Which, a lot of people were upset about at the time. But we kinda knew, 'Okay, if we don't lose you now, we're gonna lose you eventually, trust me. Something a lot bigger than this is coming your way.'"

Since the beginning, the duo have been intentional about their song release choices and music rollouts, carefully making clear which causes they supported — and preparing for a time when T.J. would want to be fully honest with his listeners.

"Another was, nearly all of our songs, they aren't gender-specific," he adds. "So we knew that we could get to this place where, 'Okay, how do we get fans that are just gonna be okay with this?' But you still don't know. And I think John and I, again, we've been pretty outspoken to who we are as people, and what we align with. Fans for the most part feel the same way, and if they don't agree with us, I think they just respect us for the backbones that we have, I guess."

The Brothers Osborne have continued to vocally support these same causes after T.J.'s coming out, too. Earlier this month, they appeared on the bill of Love Rising, a benefit show raising money for LGBTQ+ organizations in the wake of two anti-transgender pieces of legislation recently signed into law in Tennessee. Maren Morris, Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow were three more performers involved in that show.

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