Country music singer Ty Herndon says he came out gay last year to help Southern teens who are struggling with their sexuality.

The 53-year-old Herndon publicly announced his sexuality for the first time in an interview with PEOPLE, making him only the second openly gay country music artist after close friend Chely Wright.

(Related: Ty Herndon comes out gay.)

Herndon's coming out inspired fellow country music star Billy Gilman to follow suit.

“There was a lot of reasons,” Herndon answered when asked by GLAAD why he decided to come out. “But most importantly was so that I could live in this body that God gave me, be authentic and tell my story, and be a friend to so many of those kids in the South who, let's just be real, who are taking their own lives because of who they are.” (The video is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Herndon co-hosted the inaugural Concert for Love and Acceptance on Friday at the CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee. Proceeds from the concert benefit GLAAD.