Shaunna Murphy
January 12, 2017 2:57 pm
Instagram/Cody Alan

In the midst of a disheartening week (okay, year) for many LGBTQ-identifying Americans, CMT star Cody Alan just came out as gay with a message of bravery, hope, and love.

Alan, a long-time country radio DJ and the host of CMT Hot 20 Countdown since 2013, announced the “news” on his Instagram page, writing,

Alan, who is 44, later told People that he suffered an identity crisis years back, prompting his decision to “accept the truth.”

“There was this underlying ache inside of me for years, so I decided either I was gonna do something about it, or I was gonna live with this layer of misery underneath that happy face on the TV,” he explained.

It took him years to come to terms with his sexuality, though he also mentions that, growing up, he remembers having “distinct feelings” that made him feel “ashamed of who I was” — so he married a woman at 24, and began having children.

“I felt like getting married was what I was supposed to do,” Alan said. “It’s what everyone wanted me to do, and I felt, somehow, like maybe that’s what would make me straight — and obviously that’s not how it works! But I dreamed of that family, which I now have.”

He eventually told his wife about his feelings towards men about 10 years ago, and they ended their marriage — then, slowly but surely, he began coming out to his friends and the rest of his family.

“You realize very quickly that people are very loving and accepting and supportive,” Alan said, adding that his son initially told him “You’re a great dad; it’s okay.”

“To their generation, being gay is like your eye color — it’s just there — so they understood better than I thought,” Alan explained.

Alan now has a partner, occupational therapist Michael Smith, and his ex-wife has rebounded as well — resulting in “this really beautiful, blended, loving, modern family that works for us.”

As for why he chose to come out publicly, he says he was inspired by Chely Wright and Ty Herndon, the first in the country genre to do so. And even though he knows country has a conservative reputation, he claims that in his experience, it’s been nothing but “diverse” and “supportive” — though still, he hopes his voice might be of service to any fans who are struggling to embrace their sexuality.

“Even if it’s just one person that hears it and says, ‘I like country music and maybe I’m not so different after all,'” Alan concluded. “There’s some person out there who’s loving country music and thinks they don’t fit in, and that’s not true: You do fit in here, and there’s a place for people who are different. That diversity is what we should celebrate.”