Award-winning out gay Australian country music singer Michael Waugh has revealed that he hid his sexuality for years after being subjected to homophobia as a young person. 

Waugh, won the Golden Guitar award presented by the Country Music Association of Australia in April, for his latest album The Cast, which was released last year. 

Waugh told the Daily Telegraph that he was bullied and bashed in school for the way he looked and walked.

“For me, it was the way that I walked and the way that I talked and that I could not hide who I was,” Waugh said, adding, “I hated my body for betraying me because it literally put me in positions of danger; there were places in the school that I couldn’t go to without fear of being beaten up. I didn’t realise how loud those voices were still in my head.”

Waugh, an English and drama teacher, got married, had a son with his wife. He launched his career as a country music singer in 2016 and has since released four albums. 

I Feel I Can Be Visible

I experienced a great deal of homophobia as a young person (not from my family – but from others) and I was carefully taught to hate parts of myself,” Waugh posted on social media in April 2022.

Waugh met his boyfriend T J Riddler in January this year. He posted photos with his boyfriend  at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in April. 

“Tonight was an opportunity for me to walk in the spotlight, holding hands with a man that I love. It is testament to the inclusivity, support and care of the CMAA – Country Music Association of Australia that I felt empowered to do that. It is because of the support of this community that I feel that I can be visible,” said Waugh.

“It might have been easier for me to do this earlier had I seen more people like me doing something like this… They say you can’t be what you can’t see. So, I hope that someone sees our amazing suits, and know that it’s safe to be authentically yourself walking down a red carpet… even if circumstances mean that the red carpet is a brown rug in Bundaberg,” added Waugh.


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For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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