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

On Monday, country star Chely Wright (“Single White Female”) revealed on that she’s gay. Read the full post.

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  • Freddy McCowan

    Well, as a guy, disappointed because she is/was one of the most beautiful women in music. I totally go with the hate the sin idealogy, but I guess if that is what she is or believes she is, she should be able to be that. Granted the coming out is going to be tied into the book/record but if there a fear of backlash, wouldn’t that have a more lasting affect? Sure she is using the situation to help herself, but as an entertainer, they use everything to help themselves, just as most everybody else does.

    I do think that she should have at least given Brad a heads up, because he being a top flight star is going to have to deal with more press than she is, or at least likely long term.

    There is of course a market for her but my honest opinion, it depends on if the material holds up. The most marketed people in the world end up falling by the sides if the material isn’t strong enough.

  • Laura

    Hmm… I have mixed feelings about this interview. I applaud her decision to openly come out as a lesbian, because it could potentially be very damaging to her career. And being a country singer is different than being Adam Lambert — they are trying to appeal to totally different crowds, so I thought that was a stupid comparison on the interviewer’s part.
    On the other hand, it seems sort of presumptuous of her to say how people will react not as a possibility, but as if it is a certain fact. Not everyone will condemn her for her sexuality or be disgusted by her… a bit of an unfair generalization, I think.

    • Robb Y

      Hey Laura… She’s correct to make it a certifiable fact, because it is one. You don’t think that’s the case, then find one of your gay friends and ask them, they will tell you straight up that this is the truth.

      • Laura

        I’m not sure what you are saying is a fact… I don’t think that it’s a fact that everyone is judgmental and hateful toward gay people. I’m not stupid and I realize that some people are, and I never denied that.
        My point was that she kind of made it seem like every person in the country industry or who listens to country music will now hate her, and I don’t think that’s true or fair.

    • Hallie

      Laura, I agree. As a Christian, a country music lover, I’m almost a little insulted that she would assume I would stop buying her albums because she came out. I’m a huge proponent of gays rights, but it seems the nicest thing she can think is that maybe I’ll “hate the sin, love the sinner”. It’s be nice if she had just a little more confidence in her fans. Not all Christians or country music lovers dislike gays.

      • Laura

        Yes, this was my point exactly — that she seems to think at most, people will “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Thank you for saying it better than I was apparently able to!

    • Fatima

      Laura, I think you’re oversimplifying. It’s natural for people to assume the worst when they’ve been exposed to it in that environment. Even when she wasn’t out, I guarantee you she’s seen bigotry first hand in the industry. She knows the business better than you or me and I bet you she knows EXACTLY how this is going to affect her career. I don’t think she thinks every fan will disown her, but to think that there won’t be in an effect in that world is naive.

      • Glory

        I think you’re probably right, Fatima. I know a former (slightly known) country artist who has done overseas concerts for the troops with Chely at least a couple times. This same person, who spoke very highly of Chely, also spoke VERY disparagingly of another female country artist who, I guess, everyone ASSUMES is a lesbian…and didn’t give a second thought to what she was saying or to whom she said it. I’m guessing she’s run into a great deal of homophobia in her industry.

      • Laura

        Again… I didn’t say that she wouldn’t run into bigotry. I’m sure she will, unfortunately. As I acknowledged in my original post, I realize that such attitudes are out there and it could be very detrimental to her career.
        My comments were more toward some things she said at least gave the impression that she thinks all country music fans, or all Christians, will disapprove of her because she is a lesbian.

  • jeff


  • Zach

    Wait, so she knows she’s gay at 39 but has never so much as dated a woman? And she never told ANYONE until two months ago? Poor woman. But what prompted her to come out if there aren’t photos of her with a woman or something?

    • Liza

      Maybe to be at peace with herself. Not everyone comes out of the closet because they are about to be outed by the media. It is obvious she has been hurting and feels like it is time to stop hiding who she really is.

      • Zach

        Right, it just seems like there was a sense of urgency in this, but then she’s 39, so live your life, hey-ayy-hey-ayy!

    • JJ

      She did say she had a partner at one time. I think what she ment was she was with just one person and hasn’t dated anyone since they broke up. Also, she mentioned that she was suicidal at one time. That’s what happens when you live a lie your whole life. My guess is she chose to free herself of that hurt and that’s why she came out.

  • Keith

    Wow. I’ve never been a fan, but I know who she is. I am a fan of country music. This doesn’t change my opinion of her in the least and I’d happily support her career if I like and connect with her music.

    I admire her bravery. This could not have been easy. I hope Nashville gives her a chance. I hope Ms. Wright can come to a bit more peace with all this. In this interview, she comes off quite angry. I completely understand, though. She has been through a lot. And she is clearly still in the process of discovering herself and what that will mean for her career.

    Best wishes and good luck to her. I’ll be listening.

    • Carmen

      If she had come out at the height of her career (earlier career) then it wouldn’t seem so much like a last gasp gamble for fame.
      I can see her coming out now in connection with the book. But the fact that an album is also coming out at the same time makes this reak of a publicity grap of someone with a perception of nothing to lose. I wonder if the record producers knew of her decision (and the book deal) prior to producing the album.

  • Keith

    I would like to add though that Pastorek’s assumption that somehow the industry has changed because of Lambert is laughable. She is giving him AND the industry, in all its diversity, WAY too much credit. Proves once again her limited thinking and lack of nuance.

    • Whitney Pastorek

      Keith, while I appreciate your thoughtful criticism, there is such a thing as a “tongue-in-cheek” question. I do not think we are a “post-gay” society since Adam Lambert any more than I think we are a “post-racial” society since Obama was elected. But there’s some much-needed humor in the idea, as well as a grain of truth that Lambert perhaps opened some minds and hearts while on Idol.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Keith

        Fair enough. I didn’t read it that way, but if that is the way you meant it, I’d agree.

    • Fatima

      I kind of agree with Keith despite what Whitney says. Besides EW’s annoying Lambert obsession, he really hasn’t done anything to progress gay opinion at no fault of his own. It’s giving him way too much credit and also ignoring the fact that pop and country are two very different animals. I just think it was a pointless reference.

  • Lori

    YOU GO GIRL!!!

  • Amiee

    “There doesn’t have to be reciprocity in hate. I don’t have to show up to every argument I’m invited to.”

    Wow. I think that is the wisest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Great interview Whitney!

    • levelheaded

      I love that quote too! I already wrote it down. Wise woman, that Chely.

    • Carmen

      Good line, but hardly spontaneous. It seems like a carefully prepared for comment worked on well in advance by her and her publicists.

  • Glory

    I’ve always like Chely Wright and that won’t change. In fact, I’ll probably buy her cd in support of her. But to think she outted herself in serious hopes of selling more music seems ridiculous. For every person who purchases in support, MANY will refuse to simply because she’s gay.

  • marianna

    I have absolutely never heard this woman’s name before in my life. But, er, congrats.

    • Rodney

      Me neither. But I sure have now. Good to know publicity is playing no part in this.

      • Fisher

        Oh who cares. Like no other musician or actor has ever done it. The point is she came out and is living her life open and honestly. It is a huge risk and she is paving the way for others. Publicity or not good for her!!

      • Carmen

        Fisher, the amount of risk to her is debatable. Yes, it is good that she is being true to herself, but the fact that she is just coming out now and not much earlier when she was “hotter” in the industry cannot be ignored from the point of view of publicity. Why do others need her to come out at all? Why not just come out themselves.

  • justsayin’

    Great interview. I don’t know her, but I would check out this record. She sounds like and intelligent, self-aware woman who has been on a difficult journey.
    I don’t understand the whole it’s-just-publicity thing. Who takes that kind of crap just to get press? Did you miss the part about her telling her truth and taking control of her story? It’s a brave thing to do.

    • Jill

      THANK! YOU!!

  • Minutiae

    I find it funny that EW did this interview. If she hadn’t come out, they wouldn’t have cared about her career, her album, or whether she had dropped off the face of the planet.

  • Tracey

    Chely, I can’t imagine the fears you have about your fans, the country music audience and your fellow performers. All I know is nothing at all has changed in how much I love your singing, music and you. I truly hope that your worst fears do not come true. I met you at fan fair years ago and you are a sweet personable person and I can feel in this interview how scared you are. I know it took a lot of courage for you to make this brave statement and I wish you all the best.

  • TheCommish

    Interesting interview, Whitney. I was a big Chely fan in the mid/late 1990s but her music after the “Single White Female” album no longer interested me. At one time, I thought she was the best-looking woman in the entertainment industry, and her recent announcement was met with a big “Wh-wh-WHAT????” on this end, for sure. I agree with a prior comment…Chely seemed very presumptuous and ANGRY during this interview. I’m curious to see the aftermath of this announcement. Lastly, it may be shallow to say this, but she’s probably the HOTTEST lesbian I can think of. A lot of guys now mourn, for sure.

  • Emma

    Hey Whitney, this is the second article from you I’ve read on this site. Nicely done. I hope to see more.

    FYI – “I Won’t Be A Whisper” should totally be the title of her next album.

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