Brody Ray shares he's trans, gets standing ovation for "America's Got Talent" audition

“This is who I am inside / This is who I am, I’m not going to hide / ‘Cause the greatest risk we’ll ever take is by far / To stand in the light and be seen as we are.” - Brody Ray on "America's Got Talent"

In a groundbreaking installment of NBC's "America’s Got Talent" this week, musician Brody Ray impressed the judges and reached millions of Americans when his audition, which aired on Tuesday, June 26, included sharing his transgender identity.

"Brody is a rising star, and I'm so proud that his talent is able to shine through in the world of country music as it becomes a more and more accepting place for LGBTQ artists," said Zeke Stokes, GLAAD's Vice President of Programs. 

Last month, GLAAD hosted its third annual Concert for Love & Acceptance in partnership with out country artist Ty Herndon and CMT. The sold-out show featured sixteen acts, including country legends Vince Gill and Tanya Tucker. Ray walked the red carpet in advance of his appearance on "America's Got Talent."

From Nebraska, Ray is a musician and in-home caretaker for adults living with disabilities. Before his performance, judge Howie Mandel asked him why he chose Jordan Smith’s “Stand in the Light.” Ray replied that the song applies to him, as it speaks about “overcoming struggles and battles.” When Mandel asked about these battles, Ray replied by sharing with the whole audience (both those in the room and watching from home) that he is a transgender man. His musical performance, coupled with his honesty about his resiliency, brought the crowd to a standing ovation, and provided a unanimous vote to move into the next round.

After his audition, he described the emotions of the song on Twitter, and provided an uplifting message on Instagram, calling on people not to “let your differences cause you to hide.”

There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender people living in the US.  GLAAD's "Where We Are On TV" report tracks LGBTQ representation in the entertainment industry, and has been able to report a steady increase in trans representation over the past few years, and for the first time ever this year, GLAAD has been able to report on non-binary representation as well. While the fight for acceptance of the transgender community is not over, moments like these allow people to "Stand in the Light" and share their identity with the world.