'He's very, very sweet. He's my boyfriend, [and] he is a cutie,' TJ said of his beau.
When Brothers Osborne took home the award for Vocal Duo of the Year during the 2021 CMA Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday, multiple reasons made the night extra special for the duo. While it marked the fourth time they've taken the trophy home, it was the first time lead singer TJ Osborne—who publicly came out as gay in February—attended the event with his boyfriend Abi Ventura. Sharing a tender moment with his beau before he and his brother John took the stage to accept the award, TJ celebrated the win by kissing Ventura.
"I tell you, every time we have won this award, it has never, ever ceased to be extremely shocking," TJ Osborne said as he accepted his prize, reports CNN. "It's been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally," Osborne said. "And to have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins tonight. Thank you." Speaking to ET's Rachel Smith backstage after Wednesday's big show, TJ admitted that he'd initially contemplated whether or not he should bring Ventura to the event. "He's very, very sweet. He's my boyfriend, [and] he is a cutie," he said.
"I was like, 'I hope this doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, but this is how I feel.' I love this person, and I want to be open in every way," TJ added. "Hopefully [it can] show people that they also don't need to hide or alter themselves in any way." While the 36-year-old was ultimately excited to appear with his boyfriend at the event, he revealed that Ventura still had reservations. "He was probably more nervous than anybody and he probably felt incredibly uncomfortable," he said. After the win, the Brothers Osborne took the stage to perform 'Younger Me.' TJ shared some more heartfelt words before kicking off the performance.
Let me tell you seeing an openly gay man win a #CMA award & the cameras not cut away when he kissed his date, is not something I thought I’d see in my lifetime. Happy to be proven wrong. Hell yes TJ Osborne!!!!! pic.twitter.com/CWxkuoQ1Me— Annette Miller (@trihardannette) November 11, 2021
"For many years I would watch this show, year after year, and I always thought how incredible it'd be and I'd dream of being here on this stage," he said. "And there were so many things that were so many hurdles for me. And I always truthfully felt like it would never be possible because of my sexuality to be here. And I just wish, I wish, my younger me could see me now." According to AP, although TJ was open about his sexuality with his close friends and family, he had apprehensions about announcing it publicly. He finally came out in an interview with TIME earlier this year.
T.J. Osborne is ready to tell his story: “I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am,” says the @brothersosborne frontman, who becomes one of the few openly gay artists in country music https://t.co/H22sFeCncp— TIME (@TIME) February 3, 2021
"I'm very comfortable being gay," TJ shared in the interview. "I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don't have a problem with. That feels so strange." Despite being comfortable with his sexuality, he acknowledged that more conservative country music audiences might not be happy with his coming out. "People will ask, 'Why does this even need to be talked about?' and personally, I agree with that," he said of discussing his sexuality. "But for me to show up at an awards show with a man would be jaw-dropping to people. It wouldn't be like, 'Oh, cool!' I want to get to the height of my career being completely who I am. I mean, I am who I am, but I've kept a part of me muted, and it's been stifling."
TJ Osborne! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜— Melissa 😷, don't call me Missy (@MLV3) November 11, 2021
Be true to yourself. #CMAawards
TJ Osborne playing on the #CMAAwards2021 as an openly gay man means more to me than I think I can ever really express— Skylar Baker-Jordan (@SkylarJordan) November 11, 2021
tj osborne kissing his mans... at a country awards show... on live tv... as brothers osborne wins the award for best duo... just months after coming out... i love this 🔥 #CMAAwards— Tomás Mier (@Tomas_Mier) November 11, 2021