It's been six months since country star Ty Herndon came out on national television
, and about one month since Nashville
's fictional Will Lexington (played by Chris Carmack
) did the same
. Now Music City is making strides towards acceptance.
Both Herndon and Carmack took the stage at Nashville's City Winery on Friday for GLAAD's Concert for Love and Acceptance - the first-ever LGBT-supportive event in conjunction with a major country music festival.
"It's hard to believe that it's the first-ever, but here we are," Carmack told ET backstage at the event. "To be a part of it is a real honor. Here we are celebrating love and acceptance in Music City and it's long overdue."
The event was a combined effort between Herndon and GLAAD, after president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis reached out to the star.
"He and I talked about how important country music is in this country and what an amazing impact it can have in changing hearts and minds, and accelerating acceptance," Ellis told ET. "It just started as a conversation that took on a life of its own, and before we knew it we had 13 artists signed up and we had to stop taking artists or else it would have been an all-day affair... This is the first time country music has stepped up in such a high-profile way to show its support of the LGBT community, so it's an exciting moment."
Ellis also enlisted the help of a high-profile, conservative GLAAD board member to lend her voice to the celebration: Meghan McCain.
"There's still such a huge culture war going on in America and doing a GLAAD-sponsored event in the south, in Nashville, using country artists, is a really serendipitous fusion of things that I love," McCain said. "I think the more that we do to close the divides in this country, the better."
The event was just one part of GLAAD's Southern Stories
initiative, which includes a six-city, seven-day bus tour. The trek aims to shed light on "powerful stories of LGBT people and their allies," said Ellis.
But for Herndon, Friday's concert was a particularly moving moment.
"I'm not usually an extremely emotional person, but walking out there tonight and having such love and acceptance, I'll be honest with you, it brought me to tears," he gushed backstage. "I believe that this is the beginning of something that is gonna change the landscape here. Nashville is the gateway to the south and there is a lot of work to be done. I'm not saying we're there yet, but this is a really good start."
For a look inside The Concert for Love and Acceptance, watch the video above.