Herndon, who realized he was gay at age 10 and started coming out to close family at age 20, told People he realized five years ago his story should be told.
“During an Anthony Robbins seminar, I realized I had an incredible story that could possibly help someone son or daughter or grandchild’s life not be as difficult as mine has been,” he said. “Maybe they wouldn’t have to go through as much pain and suffering. It’s time to tell my truth.”
Herndon kept his sexual orientation a secret for his whole career.
“My mother probably knew I was gay before I did. I remember sitting down with her and having the conversation,” Herndon said. She was initially worried about his career in country music. “She was more concerned about me having a happy life. You have to be able to do that in your own skin, and [my family] has seen me struggle with being gay my whole career.”
Herndon was married to two women before accepting his own sexuality.
“I’ve done a lot of work around forgiveness with people that I’ve hurt and people I’ve not been honest with because of my sexuality,” he said.
Herndon’s close friend Chely Wright, who came out to People in 2010, played a big part in his decision to come out.
His partner since 2008, Matt, also played a big part.
After Matt brought Herndon to the life-changing Anthony Robbins seminar for their one-year anniversary gift, he decided to tell his story to others.
As a child, Herndon would sit in church and worry he was a homosexual.
“Whatever that word meant, I knew I probably was one,” he said. “And I know there’s a lot of those kids still out there. Telling my story is an opportunity to help just one of them.”
Apparently his words already touched Gilman, who came out in a five-and-a-half minute YouTube video.
“It’s difficult for me to make this video, not because I’m ashamed of being a gay male artist, or a gay artist, or a gay person,” he says. “But it’s pretty silly to know that I’m ashamed of doing this knowing that…because I’m in a genre, in an industry that is ashamed of me for being me.”
Gilman, who was the youngest singer to ever have a Top 40 hit on Billboard’s country singles chart at age 12, came out after a reporter took a picture of him with his partner.
“I know that I’d rather it be from me than you reading it somewhere else and probably field with ‘not truth.’”
He said that Herndon’s revelation “made it easier” for him to come out, though he had been planning to for several weeks.