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After years of speculation about his sexuality, Ty Herndon officially went on the record, acknowledging that he’s gay in an interview with Entertainment Tonight on Thursday. “I went to great lengths to cover up that fact to be a country star,” Ty says, “and today I get to tell the world that I’m an out, proud and happy gay man.”

“I have an awesome relationship that I’ve been in for a good number of years,” he says, “[I] love him very much and he loves me.” Ty even went on to say he hopes a proposal from his partner of five years might follow his public revelation.

Rumors about his orientation date back to a 1995 incident where an undercover male police officer accused the country singer of exposing himself in a park. Ty says he doesn’t remember much about the episode.

“I wish I had really great recall or memory about that. I think I had been up for like six days doing drugs. The night and the day was really a huge blur for me,” he recalls.

Ty also reveals that both his wives knew about his homosexuality. “I had a lot of people around me that I trusted at a time and I was like, ‘Hey, you know this about me but the world doesn’t. So I’m gonna need to call on your services for a little while.’ It was unfortunate that I had to do that, but I felt that’s what I had to do to have my career.”

In the nineties, Ty scored three number ones with “It Must Be Love,” “Living in a Moment” and “What Mattered Most.” His last top 40 country hit was 2001’s “Heather’s Wall,” which went to number 37.

The 52-year-old says this month’s CMA Awards give him hope that country music is becoming more accepting of the LGBT community. “Kacey Musgraves won Song of the Year for “’Follow Your Arrow’…and two amazing songwriters that happened to be gay wrote that song.” His most recent CD is 2013’s Lies I Told Myself.

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