The country crooner, who came out in November, wants to get through his first year as an out gay man

By Tierney McAfee
Updated March 01, 2015 04:05 PM
Credit: JB Lacroix/WireImage

Ty Herndon feels like a new man after coming out to PEOPLE back in November 2014, and he says it will show in his next album.

Although the 52-year-old Nashville artist may not be the only country star to come out (singers like Billy Gilman and Chely Wright are also openly gay), he’s hoping to be a trailblazer in country music.

“I may be the first man in country music to sing a love song to another man. And I’m very proud to do that,” Herndon told reporters at Family Equality Council’s Los Angeles Awards Dinner in Beverly Hills on Saturday. “I’m not changing the ‘he’s’ for ‘she’s’. It’s straight-on who I love. Love is universal. I’m keeping it unisex but there are a few songs that I’ve written that I wrote about my own life. That’s the one thing about country music – you got to sing what you know.”

Herndon certainly knows about love. The country crooner has been with his partner, Matt Collum, for five years, but they made their first appearance as a couple at the 2014 TrevorLIVE in Los Angeles in December. So how are they now?

“We’re doing fantastic. We just did a ski week together last week. Bless his heart, he took a tumble down the mountain and tore his ACL,” Herndon shares. “But he’s going to be okay. He’s at home for a bit. I did not trip him!”

Now that Herndon has gone public with his relationship, he s eager to settle down and start a family with his partner in the near future.

“I have always said that I would be a late father in life. My grandfather was in his 50s when he got married and had six kids. So, I’m a little bit of a late bloomer,” he says. “We have one job out there: to put great kids out in the world. It may be a foster situation for me. There may be a frozen egg out there, we’ll see.”

But before Herndon becomes a doting dad, he has some work to do – including releasing his new album, which he ll start recording on March 16.

“I want to get [through] my first year of being an out gay man,” he says. “I’m still getting my footing with all that. And still remain true as a country artist. I’m still the same old redneck I was before I came out. So I have a responsibility to the fans to make great country music out there.”

“And then kids after that,” he adds.