Chely Wright is a long-time country music superstar. But she had a secret, she’s gay, and it was tearing her apart, piece by piece, year by year, until she finally couldn’t take it anymore. Hiding was killing her.
At her lowest moment, she was sitting looking in a mirror with a gun in her mouth, ready to pull the trigger. Thank God she didn’t do it.
She has since become a staunch advocate for LGBTQ kids and teens, especially in the Bible belt in small towns where they feel totally alone, to let them know that they are not alone.
Before Chely came out, there were no openly gay country music stars, and she feared that her career would be over if anyone ever found out. That might have been true much earlier in her career before she was famous, before she had 6 successful albums, and before the quantum leaps our community is taking forward.
Her career changed because she came out. She lost some fans. She faced some death threats. She left Nashville and a big record label for an independent label, but she likely gained more fans than she lost. She gained the following of the LGBTQ community who want country music that is inclusive.
Here is Chely’s appearance on Ellen in May 2010 (9 min.):
Of all the people in show business, Ellen understands first hand exactly what it’s like to risk everything to just be who you are. Ellen lost her career for awhile, but made an amazing comeback. She was first. Here is Ellen’s mom’s book Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey
There is still a stigma attached to being openly LGBTQ in show business. Casting directors erroneously believe that straight actors can play gay roles convincingly, but somehow gay actors can’t play straight roles convincingly. Fortunately, that stigma is beginning to die, but not fast enough.
Chely released her 7th album, Lifted Off the Ground, which marks a new beginning and feels much more like a 1st album. It’s very personal and authentic.
She wrote a book, Like Me: Confessions Of A Heartland Country Singer to accompany her well-orchestrated public coming out. Her first appearance was on Today on NBC, and then she had a whirlwind of interviews, public appearances and the book tour.
At the beginning of the public coming out she and her close allies were building, they made a documentary film about her life, what growing up gay meant for a small town girl in the mid-west, and what she went through to get to this side of her journey: Chely Wright: Wish Me Away. It’s now available on DVD, download, and Netflix Instant. Prior to the film’s public release, it was featured at several pride film festivals.
Photo credit: People
Chely and Lauren, who were legally married in Aug. 2011 in Connecticut by a minister and a rabbi, announced Jan. 24, 2013, that Chely is pregnant with identical twins, and they are expected to arrive in June.
“We’re excited to be parents,” Wright said. “We hope we don’t mess it up too badly.”
“We feel like God blessed us with twins,” she added. “We feel our entire relationship has been blessed. We feel lucky and ready to take on the challenges.”
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Betty DeGeneres: Love Ellen, Chely Wright, Chely Wright Wish Me Away, Chely Wright: Lifted Off the Ground, Chely Wright: Like Me, Coming out stories, Ellen DeGeneres, Lauren Blitzer, LGBTQ civil rights, LGBTQ Human Rights, NOH8 Campaign