The media was abuzz late last week with news that a prominent star was going to be coming out this week. Guessing games abounded, but news came today that the star in question is country singer Chely Wright. OK, she's not a big, big star as we thought we'd be getting, but this could be major news in country music circles...
Online, Wright tells People.com and The Advocate of the story behind her coming out. She'd struggled for years, enduring failed relationships with women and struggling with being forced to live a double life in the not-so-gay-friendly world of the Nashville country music scene.
As MTV News reports, "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality," Wright told People in an article published today (May 3rd). "I wasn't going to be the first" — but she ultimately changed her mind. "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out," she said.
Wright's first single, "He's a Good Ole Boy," made the country charts in 1994, and in 1995 she was named the Academy of Country Music's best new female vocalist. Her 1999 tune "Single White Female" hit No. 1 on Billboard's country charts, and her 2004 single, "The Bumper of My SUV," debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country singles sales chart, but peaked at No. 35 on the airplay chart. That song also was noteworthy for its stance of support for U.S. troops in Iraq.
This week, Wright will talk to The Today Show on Wednesday (May 5th). Wright has a new autobiography, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer, and a new album Lifted Off the Ground, both getting released tomorrow. You can glimpse a promo video for her new single "Broken" below.
Is this a big deal? Undoubtedly it is for Wright and her fans, and likely for many gay folks living closeted lives, looking for a story they can identify with. Wright is smart and eloquent and sincere in telling her story. I can only wish her well. AfterEllen also weighs in with "Five Reasons Chely Wright's Coming Out Matters."