Chely Wright on her decision to come out: 'I won't be a whisper. I'm too proud of who I am.'

Chely-WrightImage Credit: Howard BragmanOn Monday, country star Chely Wright (“Single White Female”) revealed on People.com that she’s gay. As she explains in her new autobiography, Like Me, she’s known about her sexuality for a long time, but she guarded the secret so intensely it brought her to the brink of suicide after a breakdown in 2005. Now, with her memoir and a new album, Lifted Off the Ground, on shelves, she’s talking for the first time about what she calls her “truth.”

EW.com sat down with Wright three weeks ago to discuss her decision to come out, and how this revelation will affect her future as a tremendous supporter and regular entertainer of the U.S. military — as well as her future in country music. “I want my country fans to stay with me,” Wright says. “I’m not giving the finger to country fans. By all measure, they already like me. They voted me ‘most philanthropic,’ ‘country star with the biggest heart,’ People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful, Kansan of the Year. I’m still all those things. I just happen to be a lesbian. And I have been the whole time. I wasn’t confused. I’ve been gay the whole time.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: [we are engaged in some pre-interview chit-chat about live performance and big arena spectacle.] On the flip side, I went to go see Patty Griffin a couple nights ago, and…
CHELY WRIGHT: The Patty? Living with Ghosts changed my life, changed how I write songs. It perhaps saved my life. My guitar, my bike, and Patty Griffin. There’s a song I didn’t record for this record called “Love for Patty Griffin.” It’s one of the ones I played when I went to [Lifted producer] Rodney [Crowell]’s house with my broken guitar and my broken self and said, “I think I’m dying,” and played him the songs that came to be Lifted Off the Ground.

How did she save your life?
Because she knew me in her songs. “Sweet Lorraine,” “You Are Not Alone,” “Nobody’s Crying,” “Mary.” I was reaching for God at this time in my life, and when I heard “Mary” and the Living With Ghosts album, I felt like God was whispering in my ear.

She’s been duetting with a lot of male country stars lately. Could she survive a career in mainstream country?
No. I think she’s so good she just doesn’t have to tolerate what the rest of us have to tolerate. Like getting your ass grabbed by a radio guy. Why would Patty Griffin ever walk into a room of drunk radio guys and get her ass grabbed? It’s a really broken template, because the labels are imploding. I’m not happy about it. I don’t look at that and go, ha ha ha. It’s heartbreaking to watch the labels close, because all my pals, they’re out of jobs. But you can’t do it the way we’ve been doing it.

I think it’s interesting you’re still saying “we” when you refer to the country music industry.
I still consider myself a part of it. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the successes of it. And I still very much consider myself a part of the Nashville community. I don’t feel like an outsider yet.

Yet? Is that what you’re predicting?
Rodney said it best. Someone was talking to him about what it’s going to be like for me and they said, “They won’t publicly hate her. They will freeze her out.” I wrote about it in my book. It’s the secret haters who do the most harm, historically. And that’s the thing with the internet. Somebody wrote a really nasty Twitter about me lately. And I thought, you know what? I can’t wait until I’m in charge of that rumor, that whisper. I’m proud of who I am. I’m not necessarily proud of being gay. I’m proud that I’m about to live my life honestly. I won’t be a whisper. I’m too proud of who I am. I’ve been too good a steward of my life. Why should I allow someone else to write a nasty Twitter about me? At least in high school you knew who the bully was. You knew who was kicking your ass. I wrote about that in my book, that I looked online at something nasty written about me, and I vomited. It made me sick. Not what I read, but that I couldn’t defend myself. That I couldn’t say, “Yes I’m gay, but I’m not a f—ing whore. It doesn’t make me promiscuous or deviant! I had a partner! We had a home! We had a garden! We had dogs and fish!” And it made me so angry that I was not in charge of my story. That’s the most compelling reason why I decided not to just do a video blog and say, “Hey! Ta-daaa! [sing-song] I am a gaaaaaay!” I wanted to tell my story.

If you hadn’t decided to be true with people about who you are, could you have put out another album?
Yes.

Would it have been any good?
It would have been this album. It wouldn’t have had “Like Me” on it. I know what it looks like from the outside. It appears that I decided to come out and wrote an album about being gay, right?

It does seem very personal.
I had my breakdown on the last day of 2005. And I swear to God, these songs were pouring out of me. And annoying the s— out of me. To answer your question, I think — some country stations are playing my single now. I think my record will get dropped.

Dropped?
Not played anymore. The stations who are playing it. We’re not really working it to country radio.

Well, it doesn’t sound very country.
It’s not, right?

It fits very firmly in folk or triple-A land. Were you scared to go back to Nashville and present as America’s First Openly Gay Country Star?
It’s like an ABC show.

Yes. A reality show. America’s Next Top Openly Gay Country Star.
Is that a Bravo thing?

But if you wanted to, you could have made the biggest mainstream country album ever, and then made this announcement.
I’ll get accused of this being a publicity-driven thing. And I can’t stop people from throwing that dagger my way. And quite frankly I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to defend myself against that. All I can say is, This is so much more truthful creatively than anything I’ve ever done. I couldn’t imagine saying, “What can I do for attention? I’ll come out, and then I’ll make a real country record for country radio!” I wouldn’t even begin to imagine how to do that. I couldn’t have made a different record right now. I’m not saying that won’t be my next record. I don’t have it in me right now. Anything else would be a lie. Not big into lying right now.

I’m curious what your definition of spirituality is these days.
I don’t have a religious inclination. I can’t even identify myself necessarily as Christian. When I’m in Kuwait City and I hear the chants in the morning, I feel something. Anyone who gets on their knees and looks up, that moves me. And quite frankly I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t get on their knees and look up. I don’t have a problem with that. I like the Golden Rule.

When you pray to a higher power, is it something specific? Is it the universe?
It’s a holy power. It’s not a tree. It’s God. And because it was welded into my mind, God is a dude in a robe with a beard. I always felt like God was my best friend and the keeper of my secrets.

I’m just surprised that having experienced such closed-mindedness about sexuality, you haven’t turned your back on religion.
Yeah. I love my heart in that way. It may be why I still call the Nashville community “we.” I don’t feel put out until you put me out. There doesn’t have to be reciprocity in hate. I don’t have to show up to every argument I’m invited to.

All right. You mentioned Kuwait City. How often are you going to the Middle East these days?
I went last year. I have been a lot, not just to the Middle East. I started going to see the troops in the mid-’90s. My last trip I did a video blog and I watched it last month and it about ripped my heart out. I think it might have been my last time to come visit the troops. Because once I come out, I doubt I’ll be invited back. I doubt I’ll be welcome. I doubt anyone will take out a press release and say, “This Gay is not welcome anymore,” but I doubt I’ll be invited back.

As we’re on the precipice of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell maybe being repealed, are you going to hop into that fight?
Oh, I can, and I will, and I can’t wait. I can’t wait to be invited to. I feel certain I will be invited to.

You have to be a poster child in some ways.
And I knew that, coming out this way. My reason for coming out, as I wrote in the book, is I’m doing it for me. But if I aid someone or comfort someone or help facilitate understanding for someone in the process, that’s a great byproduct of what I’m doing. A gal told me today she knows of a 15-year-old kid whose mom is shipping him off to be reformed because he’s gay. It’s horrible. And I have to step forward and say publicly, I’m gay. I’m not a freakshow. I’m a good, responsible person. Just because your child is gay doesn’t mean they’re destined for a screwed-up life.

So this Don’t Ask Don’t Tell thing…
I’m so angry about it. I’m so angry with George Bush and Dick Cheney, and if President Obama doesn’t do something — I know he’s trying and it takes time, I know he can’t flip a switch — but if he doesn’t get this done quickly, I’ll be angry with him. I know the military. I know it became in fashion to go perform for the troops after September 11th, but I did it before. I’ve been playing in military hospitals since I was a kid. I know these people. I know what they’re about. They’re about valor, integrity, teamwork, honor. We have instructed them to lie, to say they are something they are not, which is the antithesis of what the military is supposed to be. I’m so angry about it.

Your brother is still an enlisted Marine. What’s his role going to be in all this?
Interesting. My brother. [long pause] I don’t know.

Let’s talk about the two celebrities that make cameos in your book. First is Brad Paisley, with whom you carried on a romantic relationship, even though you already knew you were gay. Does he know this book is coming out?
He does not know. I haven’t talked to him.

If you had to predict his reaction, what would it be?
Brad is a really good person. I feel like Brad respects me. I don’t know if he ever hated me at some point. If he did, I wouldn’t blame him. Although I imagine his Christian beliefs would lead him to condemn my homosexuality, he might fall into the “love the sinner, hate the sin” category. He’s wickedly smart, which is one of the reasons why I made the decision to spend time with him. I loved Brad. I never had the capacity to fall in love with him, but I figured if I’m gonna live a less than satisfied life, this is the guy I could live my life with. If I’m gonna be with a boy, this is the boy. He’s funny as crap, he’s talented. He’s a good person. He is as fair as he knows to be. And I respect his beliefs. He walks his walk. And he’s not a hypocrite. If his religious beliefs tell him to condemn my homosexuality, I can’t let that rent a room in my head.

Did you think about giving him a heads up on this?
My publicist asked if I wanted him to be in touch with Brad, and my answer was yes. I wish that I could plug a USB port from my heart and my mind into Brad’s for a minute, and download what my truth is so he could understand it. Not just Brad. Everybody. Anyone who would like to poke holes in my truth, I would just like them to be able to understand what my life has been like. But Brad more than anybody. I would like him to understand that, if I could have fallen in love with a boy, it would have been him.

The flip side: John Rich, with whom you performed at Opryland when you were both Nashville newcomers, and who has made a number of controversial comments about homosexuality in the past. I feel like you don’t think he is going to have the same “hate the sin, love the sinner” perspective on this.
I think there was such a backlash when he kind of took a shot at gays a few years ago, and he did some backpedaling. I think he sees what it feels like to take on the gays, and he didn’t like it. And I think he may not want to take this on. So he may say, “Um, I love Chely. I can love the sinner, hate the sin.” He may say that. I don’t have to believe it.

What was he like back when you were in the show together at Opryland? What was he like as a normal person?
I never knew John to be a normal person.

What’s your reaction to people who have rumors going around about their sexuality in Nashville these days? Do you feel sorry for them? Do you think they should address it? Hope they can find their truth?
We all know who is speculated about. I also know there are probably people who are gay that we can’t even imagine. My heart bleeds for anybody who is hiding. And one of the things that keeps me up at night is how I answer the question you haven’t asked: Are there others?

Oh, I don’t care about that.
I got asked it today. It hangs out there. It’s obvious. You wouldn’t be worth your salt if you didn’t entertain the notion. What I don’t want to do — and I know you’re not asking me to, but I want to talk to you about this — is initiate founded or unfounded speculation on anybody. Because it’s career-ending. In three weeks’ time, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be ending my career in country music. There’s one thing about a country music career: When you have a hit record, you can pretty much enjoy that success for the rest of your life. You can make your living. You can put food in your belly for the rest of your life, because of the love that country music fans have for you. I’m offering that back to the country music fans with an honest heart, saying, “Here’s this back. If you want to give it back to me, I’ll gladly take it.” To have the question asked, “Are there others?” So scary to me.

It’s not like you have a gay clubhouse where you all hang out. Or do you?
There are gay communities in entertainment at large. And there are gay undergrounds in any kind of entertainment where a lot of people keep your secret. Your manager knows, your publicist knows, your friends know, your beard knows. Your band knows. They all keep your secret. I wasn’t just in the closet, Whitney. I was behind the sheetrock in the closet. Oh, and I am going back [to Nashville] June 8. We have our tenth annual Reading, Writing, & Rhythm benefit. That’s the charity I started. We put instruments and money in public schools. So I have a charity show a month after I come out. We’ll see if the other artists cancel.

I can’t imagine that they would. I really cannot.
We’ll see if people want their money back from the tickets. Do you know how much people hate gays?

I’m well aware, but… gosh, are we not living in a post-gay society now thanks to Adam Lambert?
You’re cute. That’s adorable.

But didn’t he hit a certain segment of the population with the gay stick? I like to think people are coming around to something here.
I hope they are. I just feel like, There won’t have to be a first again. I’ll be the first. And I feel like I’m uniquely positioned… somebody has to be the first that has had hit records. It can’t be, “Lyric Street Records signs gay artist!” It has to be someone who already, by every measure of the public, is liked. They’ve already endorsed me.

I just hope we’re at least past the point where people are going to cancel on you. I do think it’s unfortunate that you’re being asked to name names now.
Yeah. If there is a secret gay fraternity of country artists, and if they’re all having dinner parties, I wouldn’t have gone. I didn’t tell anybody. My mother doesn’t know that I’m gay.

When’s the last time you talked to her?
Not sure. Long enough that I can’t recall.

How many people have you told?
My best friend, on Valentine’s Day when I was in Nashville. That was really emotional and hard for me. My sister. My brother.

Has anyone’s reaction truly surprised you?
My dad. My dad’s reaction surprised me. I thought someone was about to tell him. And I felt that division. There’s a compartmentalization that goes on, and the older you get, the more separate you live your life. You don’t want to do it, but you do it to protect your secret. I found myself just not being comfortable when he would call. And thought, Why are we growing apart? I can’t do this! I can’t have my dad die of a heart attack and him not know who I am. So I told him. He was surprised. He said, “But what about the boys?” I said, “Dad, I tried.” He said, “What is that when you date girls and boys?” I said, “Bisexual. But dad, I’m not that. I’m SUPER gay.” I haven’t told my ex-partner yet. I’m single. I’ve never dated, you know.

Then this is the world’s most awkward personal ad. Congrats.
Match.com has nothing on me.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Beyoncé’s one hot housewife in ‘Why Don’t You Love Me’ video: Watch here
Francis and the Lights’ ‘Darling It’s Alright’ video: Watch here
‘Jersey Shore’ soundtrack to be released this summer
Ozzfest is back: Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Rob Halford to headline
New Glee music: Hear Jane Lynch and Olivia Newton-John cover “Physical”
U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan do Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’: Army strong!


Comments (176 total) Add your comment
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  • Ambient Lite

    Wow. So, I have no interest in trying to “poke holes in her truth” (not a genre of music I care about, I have no idea who she is, and I couldn’t care less whether or not she’s gay), but that was a weird interview.
    So I have a question for any of you who are gay…this whole thing seems to me to be no more than a publicity-seeking move. Do any of you see it that way too? Do you resent it? Why is an announcement necessary? Is it an act of bravery, meant to make encourage people to be more accepting?
    Just wondering.

    • Well

      Would you have preferred she waited to talk about it until after her book and album came out? Her being gay is in both, and people do go on publicity tours for both. This wasn’t something that could have been swept under the rug and ignored. At least in this regard, she gets to address it in her own words and talk about it, instead of having the conversation started without her.

      • Rob Turak

        I agree that she had to make a statement prior to the book coming out. However, I think though that the issue is that she waited until ONE DAY before the book came out. If she would have made this announcement, say, 6 months ago, then it would be much harder for someone to accuse her of using this as a publicity stunt.

      • uy

        Isn’t Whitney Pastorek also a lesbian?

      • Whitney Pastorek

        would that be a problem for you, uy?

    • cas

      Okay, so I’m not gay, but I am in showbiz, and I’m also from the Bible Belt. (Full disclosure: I’m a Christian. I teach Sunday School. And I support gay rights, including the right to marry.)

      At first I DID see this as a publicity thing, but reading this interview, I think she’s more just caught up in the emotion of coming out in such a scary environment. She IS the first country artist to come out, even though she’s not a HUGE star. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of prejudice in this community. People will shun her. People will condemn her. People will say obscene things about her. It will cost her her career.

      She’s going to have to be strong if she wants come out on the other side of it happy and healthy. It’ll be interesting to see how this story unfolds.

      • RDL

        The powers that be on Music Row are, for the most part, still very conservative and very Christian and anyone who isn’t exactly like them is just all kinds of wrong. Anyone who deals with the industry in any capacity knows that what Chely says is very true – this is career suicide. There will be those who support her publicly and are sincere. There will also be those who will say ‘how brave’ and who won’t return her calls. There will be many more who won’t support her at all and many will be very vocal and very cruel about it. For example, while they won’t play her music, she’ll be the butt of juvenile jokes for country music radio for months to come. This is not a decision that she came to lightly. It clearly took a long time and a lot of inner turmoil to reach.

      • Melissa

        @cas
        I think you’re very accurate in saying that while this could have been a publicity stunt (and I do feel that some of these “announcements” lately are), Chely is in a unique position. Country music is a very different world and there’s a lot they don’t stand for. I would like to hope that country fans can react positively. I’m a Christian, believe homosexuality is a sin, but I also believe people have a right to live their own lives and fall in love and I will protect that right all my life. My hope would be that country music, even if they don’t embrace Chely, will respect her and not turn this into an attack session. I know I’ll be requesting her songs like crazy. She really is making a very brave decision right now.

        But oh how much I hope that someday there won’t have to be announcements. Maybe the day will come when people can just be who they are and not have to give a public announcement about their sexuality. Until then, I’ll keep introducing myself to people as “Melissa, by the way I’m straight”, just because that’s apparently a person’s most defining characteristic. (and that could be a rant on the publicity stunts of some actors. Being gay shouldn’t be a world premiere. If the world is really going to change and be fully accepting, someone’s sexuality has to stop being a trending topic and start being as normal as eye color.) Sorry, soapbox done.
        Good luck to Chely, can’t wait for the album!

      • Vic

        No she isn’t the first K.D. Lang was a up and coming star in the 80’s that came out and its not like you couldn’t tell by looking at her already but they shunned her and treated her awful.

    • topher

      It’s totally a publicity move… and she’s getting the most press she’s had in years. But hey, I’m not really bothered by it. In some respects, it’s a positive sign that coming out can now be part of a marketing plan.

      • topher

        Oh, and PS: I think she sounds kinda dumb. The whole “I know I’ll be invited” to help fight Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Invited by whom exactly? You sorta just make your sign and show up.

      • JDMOM

        No topher,this is not a publicity move. Not for a country music star, if anything, its career suicide. I will her all the best and she seems happy, so good for her!

      • Anne

        This is not a publicity move. It’s a move to protect herself. If she came out 6 months ago I think she would have been buried by the conservatives & Nashville before she could even finish writing her book or her album.

        Religion Over Human Rights = What she’s defending herself againts.

        NO ITS NOT A PUIBLICITY STUNT.

      • topher

        Anyone who thinks that going on talk shows to promote a book and album is not for publicity is stupider than a box of hair. But my point that you tards fail to grasp is that there’s nothing wrong with doing just that. More power to her if that’s her marketing angle.

      • Felicia

        Whatever your opinion, I simply can’t take anyone seriously who uses the term “tards”.

    • persimmon

      Theory. B country artist with no name out side of the genre is looking to revitalize her career. She writes and album which both her and the interviewer say doesn’t sound like country. She comes out. Now she has a name that people outside of the country genre will recognize. Maybe not a country star any more but the rest of America might give her new album a listen.
      Seems like there could be benefits.

    • jj

      She’s just jumping on the Gay Country Genre bandwagon. Lady Antebelum, Kenny Chesney, and Rascal Flatts.

    • Anne

      As a gay person, this is my reply.
      At first i also thought it was a publicity stunt BUT after reading what she had to say I believe she is being as genuine and honest as possible.
      Why she hadn’t been around all these years is because she needed hiatus to finally come to this point. And now that she finally comes back to relaunch her career, It is necessary to come out AT THE SAME TIME. Because of the content of her biography, because of what Nashville will do to her and the world needs to know. All of the injustice, religion over human rights, she is doing it to protect herself and speak for us , gay people who suffered throughout childhood and life due to the conservative bigorted ways of our family and loved ones. All that she went through I have been through and if she has a choice she wouldn’t be gay.

      A pretty girl like her, she can date a famous person for publicity stunt. BUT to choose to be gay to gain attention, what person in their right mind would do that? lol to be shunned by majority of her fans? No. What Chely did was genuine and courageous. Amidst the timing, it is the right thing to do, The only thing she can do so that IF Nashville rejects her, Let the world be known how far we still have to fight for Gay rights.

      • liberalbutopen

        Anne, im with you. Im not gay or bi, but i support GLBT ppl everywhere. And my point is exactly that the whole “its a choice” thing…who would CHOOSE such hatred and discrimination, such backstabbing by loved ones, and everything else that comes with revealing your true self, a self that not everyone wants to accept. You cannot change who you love any more than you can choose whether you like Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza. And to the ones who say “but you can CHOOSE not to act on it…”…why deny part of yourself? Why cut out a part of you? Be true to yourself, and your true friends and true family will love and support you no matter what :)

    • uy

      No Whitney, I have no problem with it. I think you two whould make a beautiful couple.

    • jjx2

      What people do not understand is that it is a CONSTANT struggle- you are risking EVERYTHING and EVERYONE In your life to be true to yourself. Like her, I was raised to marry, have a white picket fence, kids, etc and that homosexuality was wrong. You fight it and fight it and try and do “what everyone else wants you to do”- date men, go to therapy– TRY to be different. But at some point, the lies- the deceit the NOT being true to yourself is so overwhelmingly hard that you have to come out to get a sense of relief or you will have a breakdown. It is a story that every gay person can tell you– its true. You KNOW from an early age that you are and you fight it. It is NOT an easy thing and NO ONE would openly choose this lifestyle.

    • CyberBibleLady

      We are all sinners. Lucky for Chely, we are in the age of grace. 1John 1:9 There is still time to repent. There are not other ways to God. There is only one way. John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

  • lee

    why is she mad at george bush and dick cheney? “don’t ask, don’t tell” was clinton.

    • Rick

      Exactly what I thought when I read her interview!

      • Pennyforyourthoughts

        Because while Clinton made ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ he did as a way for the LBGT community to gain a step forward in equal rights, but during the cheny/bush administrastion it was used as a weapon of discrimination and to get members of the LGBT community of the army.

    • fenderjazz

      It’s easier to blame Bush and Cheney.

    • Mo in VA

      Cheney’s gay daughter was his campaign manager. Both Bush and Cheney have gay friends, colleagues, donors. They pandered to the Christian right for votes and laughed behind their back. Rather than rescind DADT they started a backdraft to keep current soldiers in 3,4,5 times longer than they should have been. So really everyone should be pissed at them about this issue.

  • Darin

    Thanks for your honesty Chely…. you are an inspiration.. your sexuality is no longer “in the back of the bottom drawer.” I am an even bigger fan now!

  • Jack

    Chely Wright, I’ve been in love with your music since the first time I heard “Shut Up And Drive.” If you ever come to perform in Detroit this is one fan who will be there. You are one cool lady.

  • Michele Peters-Coville

    I just heard your interview with Natalie Morales. I think you’re very courageous. You’re absolutely right (interesting that your last name suggests that) that our primary obligation in life is to tell the truth. It doesn’t matter what kind of secrets we all hold. It’s simply important to live with integrity. You’re doing that. Bravo!

  • Flyer

    I loved Chely’s comments about Patty Griffin – a wonderfully talented artist deserving of more attention! In the rest of the interview, though, Chely seems very depressed and presumptuous. She’s only assuming what people like Brad Paisley might think or believe. Yet she’s convinced fellow musicians won’t share the stage, audiences will ask for refunds, radio stations will blackball her songs and her record label will dump her. What’s really going on? Is Chely setting her expectations low so she won’t be disappointed if any of this stuff actually happens? Is this a self-confidence issue, where she doesn’t trust her own talent and fans enough? Or are the country music execs and fans REALLY that bigoted against homosexuality?

    • Robb Y

      Yes, Execs and fans really ARE that bigoted about the gays. First hand experience right here.

      • Fender

        Seconded.

        And I almost forget how bad it is, and I lived through it, until I talk to someone who still lives in Nashville…

        Then I remember why I left.

      • Brad P

        As it should be …AMEN

    • Kay

      Trust me. I spent years living in the bible belt and country music fans are extremely bigoted against homosexuality. (I hate generalizations and I’m sure there are some fans out there who aren’t – but enough are that she can be confident that her country career is over.)

      • Brad P

        I thought I straightened her out one or two times, but I guess it didn’t last.

    • Mac

      And she’s right about the Armed Services, too. Our troops do a fantastic job and put their lives on the line for our freedom, and as a group they are one of the most accepting segment in America with an incredible amount of diversity – members and their spouses are from all over the world. But one thing they are allowed to do is hate on the gay community. Work in a federal position and terrible comments are everywhere and largely ignored. I Think this is mainly due to members and their families occupying so many federal positions. I would be surprised if she were asked to come back and entertain the troops.

  • Chris

    Very impressed with this interview, Whitney! Kudos to you and Chely, for being so honest.

  • Sean S.

    In my opinion, this is always a potentially difficult situation. If you want to come out so that you may live honestly and publicly, you run the risk of being accused of publicity seeking. If you don’t come out and try to live your life privately, people will seek out your “secrets” and when they are uncovered, you are shamed as a liar or hypocrite. I commend Chely on her decision to come out because now at least she can move her life forward to other focuses without looking over her shoulder or waiting for her truth to be discovered. There is power in that for anyone, gay or not.

    • levelheaded

      It is a difficult situation.

      As a heterosexual I never need to ‘come out’ and annouce my sexuality. Why? Because it is deemed ‘normal’.

      I think its crazy that we care so much about people’s sexual orientation. Why can’t she just live her life and love who she loves and not have to ‘hide’.

      If you are gay and in the country music community it seems you have to make a conscious decision to hide a part of yourself. That is very sad.

      I think she’s brave and cool. and ” There doesn’t have to be reciprocity in hate. I don’t have to show up to every argument I’m invited to.” is my new favorite quote.

      • Daniel

        I vote for #1 as I think he’s really saynig something ! And I know I’m not really all that eligible, but wanted to vote anyhow because you are such a terrific photographer!

      • dkiofvtjyjf

        Ytvmtq alkemrwaayng

  • KC

    WHO?
    I guess we’ll all know WHO she is now that she felt the need to come out to boost her career.
    Don’t throw things.

    • Sara

      Not sure outing yourself would be considered a career boosting strategy. In fact, it could very well do the complete opposite. Luckily, the gay community is veeery supportive.

      • Rob Turak

        Sara, normally I would agree, however this case is different. The fact is that Chely was most popular almost a full decade ago. This latest album is her first in 5 years. Pushing 40 now, the reality is that this is her last shot at returning to the top of the country charts. So, the question becomes, is all this publicity going to help her career now? At this point, she has a solid but small fan base that will largely stick with her and the few that drop off will more than be replaced with people who would have never even heard of her if it wasn’t for this announcement.

      • fenderjazz

        Well, can’t it be said that she’s marketing herself to the gay and lesbian community? The announcement, the book and a CD? This is the most I’ve read about her in about 13 years. No one can say that a segment of society won’t have a new interest in her now.

    • i just love

      I just love that people read about celebrities and then bash them. Every time. No matter what. Coming out of the closet has nothing to do with honesty and openness apparently! Or acting as a positive role model! No, no, according to you, KC, it’s all about fame.

    • Dav

      Yes, yes I can see how admitting to something that will get you insulted, bashed, shamed and banned by your primary fan base would be good for publicity.

      • KC

        Pfft.
        Her true fans will stick by her. Had that overrated, unfunny Ellen Degeneres not come out of the closet she would’ve thankfully disappeared.

      • UGH

        Really. She’ll just parlay it into something else. Coming out was both womens’ last act of desperation to hold onto some relevancy.

      • MC

        @KC, actually, ellen did disappear for a while after she came out of the closet. her sitcom was cancelled and she wasn’t getting anymore movie roles. she didn’t get her talk show or any of her other recent successes until she got great buzz for playing Dori in Finding Nemo, which had nothing to do with her being gay.

    • imho

      I.T.A.! Wanna be famous quickly? Get gay. Everybody else is…

  • Dianna

    She seems very bitter. Of course, I have no idea what kind of issues she’s already dealt with. As a country fan, I enjoy her music. It will make no difference to me who she dates. I don’t think it is fair that she’s already decided that those of us who are Christian and country music fans will condemn her. I think it’s strange to make a generalization about a group of people when the main complaint is that the group makes generalizations about people. :) Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone somewhere who doesn’t like her for whatever reason. To condemn a whole group seems hypocritical to me.

    • levelheaded

      I don’t think she was speaking about Christians in general, but the specific Christian community in Nashville and country music. (still a generalization) but one where she knows of what she speaks.

    • Ashley

      So then you think she won’t get bashed on country radio? Southern Christians are just as tolerant as everyone else and will bite their tongues? Hmm, I live in southern Indiana, the heart of the Bible Belt, and “love the sinner, hate the sin” AND “hate the sinner and the sin” are both socially acceptable attitudes to take. Much different than other parts of the country.

  • Zak

    That was a very compelling interview. I’m very interested in hearing about Brad Paisley’s reaction to this.

    I love Chely Wright; always have, always will. I don’t give a hoot about her sexual orientation, just that she makes great music.

    One thing that is strange – this now makes two female artists in a row (Chely and Jennifer Knapp) that I had huge crushes on when I was younger who have come out. In neither case did I have any idea they were gay.

  • carrie

    I’ve never even HEARD of this woman but I agree with practically everything she said. Also, she’s right– there is absolutely NO reason to do this for publicity. Yes, she will get attention for a few months but then her career is likely to end. Also, I don’t think she is cruel enough to pretend to be gay and talk about personal moments coming out to her family just to make a few bucks. It’s insulting that people think she’s just trying to profit off of this. Personally I love this article/interview and I hope people get to read it.

  • Marcus

    Who?

  • Jillie

    How can her band, manager, etc know but not her own family?

    • Dav

      HA! Seriously?!? This happens quite a lot. She was afraid to tell her family so she hid it. Simple as that.

  • Kentucky Gern

    Chely won’t have any worse luck now than she’s had the last few years. Her career was over a couple years ago. Hasn’t had a real hit in probably a decade. So, if she doesn’t get on the radio, don’t blame it on Nashville locking her out because she’s gay. Blame it on her inability to deliver a hit record. I would hate to have anyone think that she’s not on the radio because she’s gay.

    She’s not on the radio because she’s just a B artist.

    • JM

      I was thinking the same thing. I totally admire her for speaking out and being true to herself. But there is a lot of anger in this interview about people now not playing her records and so forth. The truth is, no one’s played her records in a long time. Which makes me sad because I always liked her music. So I guess now she can rationalize that and turn it into homophobia. I don’t know what the reaction of most country fans will be, I’m sure she’ll be condemned in many circles, but her career won’t be taking a sudden nosedive.

    • Karrah

      I completely agree. I’m a big country fan, and the only song I know of hers is “Single White Female.” However, I do admire what she’s doing. It takes courage for anyone to come out, and even more in a community like this. I’m a fan after this interview.

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