Entertainment Music Country Chris Housman Proves That a Broken Heart Is Universal on 'Nobody': Anybody Can 'Insert Themselves in This Song' "When I came out at 18, I became the first openly gay person I had ever met," Housman tells PEOPLE. "I want anybody to be able to insert themselves in the shoes of this song. That's not something always had growing up" By Tricia Despres Published on June 30, 2022 04:05 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Born and raised on a Kansas farm in a town made up of just 200 people, Chris Housman lived a country song before he ever made a career out of it. "The nearest interstate was an hour and a half north and the nearest grocery store was 45 minutes away," the musician, 32, remembers during an interview with PEOPLE. "No stop light and no post office. But we did have eight churches!" And it was in that town that Housman not only began dreaming of becoming a country singer and songwriter, but also began to feel as if he might be different than the other guys in town. Country Stay Ty Herndon on Addiction, a Suicide Attempt and How Coming Out Saved His Life "It became obvious to me that I liked boys," says Housman, who began playing the fiddle in his family's country/bluegrass band at the age of 7. "But I immediately became terrified of that. I was essentially living in a bubble that I loved for the most part. But I knew something was different. When I came out at 18, I became the first openly gay person I had ever met." Chris Housman. Ford Fairchild In fact, after high school graduation but before he left to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Housman made the decision to live out his truth. "I was one of the few openly gay people at Belmont, which was still a private Christian-based college in the south at the time," explains Housman, who by then had expanded his musical repertoire to playing everything from the piano to the guitar to the upright bass. "The exposure to people from other walks of life was so much more than I was used to, and it was awesome. But at the same time, I quickly recognized that I wasn't going to be able to do the country music I grew up doing." Chris Housman. Ford Fairchild Indeed, it was 2008 at the time, before many of the strides around equality had taken place. But today, Housman finally feels like there is a place for him in the country music space. "Everything is changing so much," says Housman, who recently performed at the first LGBTQ+ event officially presented as part of CMA Fest in Nashville. "You're seeing it in country music and you're seeing it in the country and you are seeing it in the world." In fact, this LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the country community has allowed the independent artist, who has already made quite a name for himself on TikTok, to find a fandom for both his music and his viewpoint. In fact, his eye-opening song "Blueneck" includes the ever-true lyric "y'all means all." Chris Housman. Ford Fairchild And in Housman's new single "Nobody," he tells a little more of his story. "We started writing 'Nobody' when I was coming fresh off a breakup," says Housman of the emotionally universal song he co-wrote alongside Emily Kroll and Christian Wood back in 2020 and whose video premieres exclusively on PEOPLE. "I was friends with my co-writers, and they knew my story. So, when we were writing 'Nobody,' it was sort of freeing. Up until that point, if I was writing stuff, I was basically writing fictional stories in my songs." Shy Carter Makes His Grand Ole Opry Debut! Go Behind the Scenes with the Rising Country Star Because while "Nobody" tells the very real story of the gay relationship that was not to be for Housman, it's also a song that any listener will relate to. "It was important for me to not use pronouns or anything," he says of the song that, along with the previously released "The Bible Belt," has already generated over 1.5M views on TikTok. "My whole thing is I want anybody to be able to insert themselves in the shoes of this song. That's not something always had growing up. Even though I loved country, there were plenty of times it didn't always apply to every kid that was listening. It's nothing new to have an emotional, breakup song on country radio, so that underlying thing in 'Nobody' was important to me." Chris Housman. Ford Fairchild And it is Housman's hope that someone hears this song and reads his story, and finally realizes that he is not alone either. "It's very easy to feel like that," he says. "And that is one of the benefits of the internet. You can connect with people through a song or social media and find your people." He pauses. "I have always wanted to be a country singer and be successful, but when it became bigger than just myself… well then, the dream has already come true."