As Brothers Osborne accepted their Vocal Duo of the Year trophy at the 2021 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 10), T.J. Osborne briefly reflected on the journey the duo has been on over the past year, acknowledging that it's been a "crazy rollercoaster" in a lot of ways.

T.J. came out as gay early in 2021, joining a very small group of openly gay artists who've won CMA Awards (Lil Nas X, Brandy Clark and songwriter Shane McAnally among them).

It wasn't the first time Brothers Osborne have won CMA Vocal Duo of the Year; they picked up the award in 2016, 2017 and 2018, too. But their 2021 win is particularly special to them because this time around, they're able to be completely open and free about who they are. T.J. even brought his boyfriend to the show.

Backstage at the 2021 CMAs, the duo elaborated to Taste of Country and other outlets about how much it meant to them to win this award, with T.J. explaining that it felt like a message of support and love from the country music community this year in particular.

"When I came out, I did not know how that would be [received]. And of course after that happened, there were a lot of positive people giving me support and loving me," the singer recounts. "And then there was a part where I was like — 'Well, what does that mean? Is it a pat on the back, and then, like, see you later?'"

But then, the 2021 Vocal Duo win was a resounding endorsement from the country music community, he continues.

"To go up there tonight and see people really and truly meaningfully invest in who we are, supportive of what we're doing and who we're about, I thought, 'Okay, this is not a friendly, 'I love you' text, this is people really wanting to pick us up and carry us on.' So that's what I feel like tonight was," he says.

"Out of all the crazy s--t in this world that's going on right now that gets a lot of attention, something very positive happened tonight," adds T.J.

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