Chely Wright: Country Singer Comes Out and Comes Clean

As she releases her memoir and her first new album in five years, the popular Heartland entertainer talks to The Advocate about her personal life and contemplates what her revelation will mean to her conservative fan base.



CHELY WRIGHT 2 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM“I grew up feeling like there was no one else, no one that I could relate to,” says Wright. “I felt like there was no one else like me, which is why I called the book Like Me. Even though this process has been incredibly difficult, I’ve still enjoyed a very fortunate life. Even if my career in country music ends, I know I will be OK. But I think about that girl in a small town in Louisiana who is too afraid to come out because she knows she won’t be safe. I think about that 15 year old boy living somewhere in Kansas, feeling scared and alone. If a country singer that he knows comes out of the closet, maybe that makes him feel a little less alone. And what about his parents? Maybe his mom knows my songs, or maybe his dad saw me perform for the troops in Iraq. If my coming out of the closet makes them rethink their ideas about gay people, then I’ve done something good. After finally coming to terms with my own life, I just felt like it would be irresponsible for me not to be honest about it.”

If there is any justice in the world, Chely Wright will enjoy an even more fulfilling career now that she no longer has to hide her true identity. The songs on her new album are the best and most beautiful things she has ever written and her book very lovingly illuminates what is still a very painful and complicated process for many gay people. While there will certainly be those who are less than thrilled by her newfound honestly, one imagines that a new and unexpected fan base will hopefully open up for her.

“I’m still figuring out who I am as a gay woman, “ she says, “but I am so excited about finally finding a place where I belong. I’m excited about being part of the gay community. I’ve never really felt that before.”

Tags: Music