TJ Osborne kissed his boyfriend at CMA Awards: ‘Give this boy a round of applause’

A man plating an electric guitar and another man waving with a microphone in one hand
John Osborne, left, and TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne perform at the 2021 CMA Awards in Nashville.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

TJ Osborne, the first openly gay musician signed to a major country record label, made history again Wednesday night by kissing his boyfriend on national television at the Country Music Assn. Awards.

Upon winning the award for vocal duo of the year, the lead singer of Brothers Osborne shared a sweet smooch with his date, Abi Ventura — a landmark on-air moment for the CMA Awards, which have been broadcast on network TV since the late 1960s.

The groundbreaking kiss came nearly a year after Osborne went public with his sexuality and discussed the possibility and impact of arriving at “an awards show with a man” in an interview with Time magazine.


“It’s been a crazy roller coaster of a year for us in so many ways, especially for me emotionally,” Osborne said during the brother act’s acceptance speech Wednesday. “To have you all support me, it really does feel like love wins.”

“Give this boy a round of applause,” said his brother, John, and the live audience certainly did.

Earlier in the telecast, Osborne opened up about his journey to country superstardom and the obstacles he has faced because of the genre’s homophobia and lack of representation for LGBTQ+ artists.

“I would watch this show year after year, and I always thought how incredible it would be,” Osborne said while introducing the duo’s performance of “Younger Me,” a song the 36-year-old wrote about growing up gay.

“I would dream of being up here on this stage, and there’s so many things that were so many hurdles for me. And I always felt — 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.”

The significance of Osborne and Ventura’s public display of love was not lost on fans, who took to social media to celebrate the “I’m Not for Everyone” hitmaker’s bravery and individuality.

“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,” tweeted People magazine music reporter Tomás Mier.


“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,” wrote Annette Miller. “Happy to be proven wrong. Hell yes TJ Osborne!!!!!”

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Osborne reflected on bringing his boyfriend to the celebrated awards show and expressed the hope that his authentic presence would empower others not to “hide or alter themselves in any way.”

“I was like, ‘I hope this doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, but this is how I feel,’” he told ET. “I love this person, and I want to be open in every way.”

See more reactions to Osborne’s groundbreaking moment below.