Singer Ty Herndon says that he and longtime boyfriend Matt Collum have separated. They'd been together for 11 years, but have now decided to, in his words, "go our separate ways."

Herndon revealed the news on Instagram on Wednesday (Oct. 27), adding that he's optimistic that he and Collum will remain friends.

"The Bible tells us that for everything there is a season," he writes. "We both are looking forward to this next season of our lives with hope, optimism, and love."

The couple had been together for five years before Herndon came out as gay in November 2014. His announcement was a pivotal step towards LGBTQIA acceptance in the country music community — something Herndon has acknowledged since.

"I have said many times that if the climate within country music had been different when me and others came out, maybe we would not have been suicidal," he told People in June. "Maybe there wouldn't have been times that we almost lost our lives. Maybe there wouldn't have been times that I would have relapsed over and over again on drugs and alcohol."

Billy Gilman came out as gay on the same day as Herndon. In the years since, artists and songwriters like Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark and T.J. Osborne of Brothers Osborne have come out, too, and thrived. Some obstacles still remain, however: An openly gay country artist has never had a No. 1 hit on country radio, for example.

"We appreciate the support Nashville and so many of you have given us over the years and look forward to continuing a close relationship with each other and all of you," Herndon writes.

Talking to Taste of Country earlier this year, Herndon said he's inspired by the next generation of LGBTQ+ artists. "Lily Rose came to this town and she didn’t have to come out. She came to this town who she is," Herndon says.

"I tell young people today that they need to come to this town and not worry about their sexuality. You be the best you can be musically. Know who you are and put it into your music and be the very best at it. Everything else will fall into place."

While Collum has appeared on red carpets with Herndon, he's remained a quieter partner than many in country music. Very little is known about him, other than that in 2014, he was a pharmaceutical representative from Missouri.

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