CMT Host Cody Alan Comes Out As Gay In Emotional Post To His Country Music Fans

CMT and iHeartRadio host Cody Alan has come out as gay in an exclusive interview with .

“Though my TV or my radio persona was always that of a happy guy, there was this underlying ache inside of me for years, so I decided either I was gonna do something about it, or I was gonna live with this layer of misery underneath that happy face on the TV,” said the 44-year-old.

“Once I realized it was okay to accept the truth, that it wasn’t my choice,” he adds, “it was a lot easier to start figuring out where to go with my life next.”

The South Carolinian CMT personality has spent years coming to terms with his sexuality.

“I feel comfortable enough with myself to share it,” Alan says.

“I’ve wanted to share this part of my life, but I now have gotten to the point where it just feels right, and I’m at peace with where I am enough to be able to express it.”

In a Thursday morning Instagram post, Alan shared a heartfelt letter to his fans and followers:

2017. As we start a new year, there is something I want to share with you. You see, I’m gay. This is not a choice I made, but something I’ve known about myself my whole life. Through life’s twists and turns, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, successes, failures – I’ve landed on this day, a day when I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. And I’m finally comfortable enough for everyone to know this truth about me. Thanks for following me and supporting me over the years. As we continue our journey, I hope this news won’t change how you see me. I’m still the same Cody I always was. You just know a little more about me now. My hope for the future is to live the most honest, authentic, loving, and open life possible. Here’s to being happy with yourself, no matter who you are, who you love, where you come from, or what cards life has dealt you. Thanks again. With much heart,

2017. As we start a new year, there is something I want to share with you. You see, I’m gay. This is not a choice I made, but something I’ve known about myself my whole life. Through life’s twists and turns, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, successes, failures – I’ve landed on this day, a day when I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. And I’m finally comfortable enough for everyone to know this truth about me. Thanks for following me and supporting me over the years. As we continue our journey, I hope this news won’t change how you see me. I’m still the same Cody I always was. You just know a little more about me now. My hope for the future is to live the most honest, authentic, loving, and open life possible. Here’s to being happy with yourself, no matter who you are, who you love, where you come from, or what cards life has dealt you. Thanks again. With much heart, Cody

A photo posted by Cody Alan (@cmtcody) on

“I struggled with my sexuality starting at a very young age,” Alan tells People. “I remember having distinct feelings early in my life. I knew this about myself, and I had a really hard time dealing with it. I was so ashamed of who I was.”

“I felt like getting married was what I was supposed to do,” Alan recalls. “It’s what everyone wanted me to do, and I felt, somehow, like maybe that’s what would make me straight — and obviously that’s not how it works! But I dreamed of that family, which I now have.”

Indeed, during their marriage, Alan and his wife welcomed a daughter and son, now 18 and 14. (To respect their privacy and safety, Alan asked that PEOPLE not name his ex-wife and kids.)

But despite starting the family he’d always dreamed of, Alan still felt incomplete.

“I expressed to [my wife] about 10 years ago that I had these feelings, that I knew this about myself, so we started on the road from there, like, ‘How do we deal with it?’” he says.

Alan decided he wouldn’t let their marriage continue.

“I couldn’t, in good conscience. It wasn’t fair to her,” he says. “Everyone needs to give 100 percent of their heart for a true, committed relationship. But ultimately, my ex and I knew there was no way that could ever happen.”