Billy Gilman Talks Coming Out in Country Music, Support from LeAnn Rimes and Lucy Hale

by Sophie Schillaci 3:16 PM PST, November 21, 2014
Playing Billy Gilman Talks Coming Out in Country Music, Support from LeAnn Rimes and Lucy Hale

Inspired in part by Ty Herndon's emotional interview with Entertainment Tonight, country singer Billy Gilman decided to also come out as gay in video posted to YouTube on Thursday.

Now, Gilman, 26, is speaking with ET's Nancy O'Dell to discuss his decision to open up and be honest with his fans.

"It's crazy to know that I'm in an industry that's ashamed of me for being me," he said. "I hope that someday down the line, that won’t be anymore because I'm sure there are thousands of great artists that aren't getting the opportunity they deserve."

In Gilman's emotional YouTube video, he referenced Herndon's announcement ("a fellow country artist and friend made it easier for me to make this video") but also said that he had been weighing the decision to come out publicly for a few weeks after being photographed with his partner of five months. Of the decision to address his fans directly, Gilman said: "I knew that I'd rather it be from me than you reading it somewhere else."

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A portion of ET's interview with Gilman will air on Friday's show, with more to come on the weekend broadcast.

O'Dell and Gilman also discussed the rumors about his sexuality that had been circulating in Nashville recently.

"People always thought, 'Is he or isn't he?'" Gilman said. "Any new artist can get a meeting on Music Row and have them listen to their new stuff, and I couldn't get one courtesy meeting. There's some wonderful people that I know, it's just the stigma that is down there. Hopefully we can set that free."

Since coming out, Gilman has received an outpouring of support from fans (crashing his website!) and famous friends.

"Ty called and wished me well, and said it was a courageous effort," Gilman said. "LeAnn Rimes said she was crying in a McDonald's bathroom. Lucy Hale has been texting me back and forth. The reception has been pretty overwhelming so far."

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Gilman, who rose to fame at age 11 with the song "One Voice," has been busy promoting his new song "Say You Will" this year. In the romantic track, he serenades a woman with talk of love and lipstick stains--but don't expect to hear a new version anytime soon.

"I wrote the song and it’s not going to change," he said. "People have written to me and [said] it's the wedding song of the year, so it'll stay as-is. But it's quite funny talk in certain situations, actually."

He will, however, continue working hard on new music.

"In the end, I love country music," he said. "I don't want to make a huge hooray, it's just me saying this is what the deal is, and I just want to make the best music for my fans."