WHEN American country musician Ty Herndon publicly came out as gay on Thursday, fellow country star Billy Gilman was inspired to do the same through a Youtube video he posted hours later.

The two country singers join a growing list of musicians in their genre of music who have come out of the closet, including Australia’s Beccy Cole and Brandy Clark, who only disclosed she is a lesbian earlier this month.

Herndon, whose career spans 16 years and includes three number ones on the US Billboard country music chart, has arguably become the genre’s most prominent openly-gay singer.

Herndon told People magazine that he struggled with his sexuality since childhood but gradually came to accept his identity as a gay Christian man and has been dating his partner Matt since 2008.

He said he realised he was gay when he was 10, sitting in church and feeling “horrified that I might be a homosexual”.

When he was 20, he came out to some close family members, but he married and divorced twice.

“[My family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career,” Herndon said.

Inspired and encouraged by Herndon’s coming out story, within hours Billy Gilman posted a YouTube video discussing his struggles as a “gay male country artist”.

“It’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this, knowing that because I’m in an genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me,” Gilman, who has sold five million records, said (see video below).

Earlier this year, former Christian rock star Vicky Beeching — who sold millions of records in the US “Bible Belt” in the 2000s — also came out, also revealing she endured isolation and exorcisms in an attempt to banish her same-sex attraction.

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