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The Lies I Told Myself" singer introduces longtime boyfriend on red carpet

By Matthew Cole Weiss
Updated December 08, 2014 05:30 PM
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Credit: Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Only three weeks after coming out to PEOPLE, country singer Ty Herndon made his first public appearance with his partner of 5 years, Matt Collum, at the 2014 TrevorLIVE in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Herndon, 52, showed up hand-in-hand with Collum, a pharmaceutical rep from Missouri, to support The Trevor Project, an organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth struggling with suicidal ideation.

“I looked at him and said, ‘You know, once we walk this carpet, you’re totally gay,'” Herndon told PEOPLE before the event. “He looked at me and said ‘Dude!’ He has a great sense of humor.”

But according to Herndon, it wasn’t until he came out publicly that the five-year relationship was truly solidified. “This was the last piece of the puzzle to be authentic,” Herndon added. “Lies eat away at whatever you do, especially your relationship. So, now we’re pretty solid.”

And even though the country music world has been accepting of gay artists, including Billy Gilman and Chely Wright (who came out to PEOPLE in 2010), Herndon has been blown away by the response to his announcement.

“I called Chely two days ago, and I asked her ‘When you came out, did you sit up in the middle of the night wide awake and go, oh my God?’ There’s been so much support and love.”

The big question, though, is whether marriage is in the future for Herndon and Collum? “We talk about it a lot,” said Herndon. “But I have a new album. When we have time. I know that’s weird to say, but I’m so busy!”