T.J. Osborne Explains Why He Keeps His Lyrics Gender Neutral

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Brothers Osborne‘s T.J. Osborne publicly came out as gay with an interview with TIME magazine in February 2021, and has since been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.

During a chat on Proud Radio With Hunter Kelly for Apple Music Country that aired Sunday (June 26), Osborne shared why the bulk of Brothers Osborne’s song lyrics — with the exception of the duo’s 2014 single “Rum” — have been gender neutral even before Osborne publicly came out.

“In that song, it doesn’t really reference necessarily a relationship, but it says, ‘Sitting with the finest example of a beautiful girl,’” he said. “And I liked the way that line is. I just liked the way it sounds, but I knew from then I was like, ‘I don’t ever want to say ‘girl’ again in a song.’”

Osborne noted that his choice to use gender-neutral lyrics came down to two reasons: He found that lyrics that use the word “girl” repeatedly have become an an overused cliche in country music. But he was also mindful of his sexuality.

“I just knew that it hit the gut in a weird way,” he said of that particular line in “Rum.” “Or people will pitch me songs for that. People still pitch me songs with ‘girl’ in it. I’m like, ‘What the hell? Read a book.’ Now, if you notice, from there, every other song we had was gender-neutral. We didn’t have anything specific about that. And over the years, there’s people who would contact us. Gay couples that would get married and actually be like, ‘Man, it’s awesome. We like country music, but we can’t play any songs at our wedding because they all reference a girl or they reference particularly that.’ So that also was another part of our strategy — eventually, I’m going to come out, and I don’t want, like, 10 songs that say ‘girl’ because that’s going to seem really strange.”

During the 2021 Country Music Association Awards, Osborne celebrated the Brothers Osborne’s win as vocal duo of the year by sharing a kiss with his boyfriend Abi Ventura. The moment, captured during the live television broadcast, quickly became one of the most buzzed-about moments from the awards ceremony.

“It wasn’t until I went backstage, everyone was like, ‘Oh man, everyone’s talking about that.’ I’m like, ‘Talking about what?’ And they were like, ‘The kiss.’ I’m like, ‘What kiss are you…’ I was like, so confused,” Osborne recalled. “I’m like, ‘What kiss?’ Like, ‘You kissed Abi before you went on stage.’ I still was like, ‘Well, what’s the big deal?’” Osbourne said. “After processing it, I was like, ‘Well, I guess …’ I didn’t realize at the time how important that was for a lot of people. Because I have heard a lot of people bring that up, and it’s wonderful that they got to feel that and see that happen I suppose.”

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