By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com March 30 2011 2:35 PM ET
The lesbian bacchanal known as The Dinah festival (actually two different parties happening at the same time), kicks off on Wednesday in Palm Springs. The contests, pool parties, and sweaty dancing will be complemented by live performances, including some by international stars like Estelle and Natasha Bedingfield. American country singer Chely Wright, who came out to much fanfare last year, will also be there to entertain the wild crowds on Friday night. Wright, who is the focus of a new documentary called Wish Me Away, took a few minutes to tell us what to expect.
The Advocate: Hi, Chely. Is this your first time at the Dinah?
Wright: Of course I haven’t (laughs).
I heard Meredith Baxter snuck onto a lesbian cruise before she was out, so I thought, maybe…
Meredith Baxter is a bit more daring than I. I didn’t even know about the Dinah until I came out and then every lesbian said, ‘You’ve got to do the Dinah.’ So, one of my managers called me and said the folks at the Dinah want you to do it. So, I said, “Absolutely, let’s do it.”
I imagine the Dinah audience will be much different from your typical country audiences. I know the Dinah crowd is quite alcohol-fueled.
That is not different from a country crowd (laughs). These outdoor festivals in the spring-time are when people start to shed the cold weather and break free. One country festival, the Eau Claire Country Jam in Wisconsin, is 50,000 drunk country music fans and you won’t find a better time. I anticipate Dinah will be a lot like the Country Jam.
Probably more two-pieces though.
Yeah! But we have a good lesbian fan base in country music, so I think we’ll have a good overlap. I’m certainly excited to be amongst my community and make new friends. I’m bringing a great band and we’re gonna have a good time.
Do you enjoy performing or writing songs more?
The one thing I love about my job is the timing--right when I’m tired of the road, exhausted from doing shows, it’s time to come off the road and start writing. Right when I can’t think of another song to write, it’s time to make the record. So my job comes in cycles that are appropriate, so I don’t ever burn out on anything. But I love, love doing live shows. You hear movie actors say they like making films but Broadway is a thrill because you get that immediate response. Well, I get to that every night when I do a show and that connection with a crowd is unparalleled.
Tell me about your documentary, Wish Me Away.
Wish Me Away is a film that’s been three years in the making and it may come out this spring. The filmmakers, Bobby Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, have been working diligently on this film for quite a while, with a lot of compassion, a lot of heart, a lot of dedication. I really believe it tells the story within the story — a lot of people read my book and know the fact that I came out and I’m gay, but I think the real story is the part they chronicled, which is the moment I decided to come out to the moment I really did come out. It was such a pithy time in my life and so highly-charged emotionally — they really captured that on film.
Visit thedinah.com or chely.com for more information on Wright's performance. Visit dinahshoreweekend.com for information on the other Dinah-sponsored party.