Chely Wright, Country Music’s First Out Lesbian Star: The Autostraddle Interview

Ah, remember last springtime when the birds were chirping through the breeze and the entire internet got caught up in a fun game of Who Is Coming Out In People May 5th? Every gay website theorized on who’d come out on Cinco De Gayo and we were mostly wrong.

As we all know now, that was Chely Wright. After May 5th, Chely was everywhere on her book/album/homogay media tour — Oprah, Ellen, The Today Show, Fox News, Joy Behar and Diane Sawyer.

However let’s be real — if you aren’t already a country music fan, you may not have heard of Chely Wright before The Great Coming Out of May 5th, despite a prodigious career in country music in the ’90s. (Chely was named Top New Female Vocalist in 1995 and earned her first top 40 country hit, ‘Shut up and Drive,’ in 1997. “Single White Female,” from her fourth album, was her first number one single.)

Drinkers, gamblers and cheaters play starring roles in country lyrics and no one seems to care, but the idea that an All-American, Christian, cowboy hat lovin’ Nashville residing singer is -gasp- gay, is virtually unheard of [I previously interviewed an up-and-coming lesbian country rocker, Jennifer Corday].

In Like Me, Chely chronicles the rise of her 20-year career in the music industry, and takes us through the course of her 11-year secret relationship with the woman she calls the ‘love of her life’  which ultimately cracked under the stress of a deeply closeted life. Not even her best friend knew of the relationship. Something snapped in her after she had a 9 mm gun in her mouth and she realized she had to come out, no matter the consequences.

Her eighth CD, Lifted Off the Ground accompanied the release of her book, and there’s also an upcoming documentary, Wish Me Away, which follows Chely leading up to her big coming out party on national television. From the song “Like Me” on her new album:

And who’s gonna end up holdin’ your hand-
A beautiful woman or a tall, handsome man?
There’s no doubt they’ll love you, but it’s yet to be seen:
Will anyone ever know you like me?

Since coming out, Chely has proved herself to be quite a leader in the gay community, recently named the spokesperson for GLSEN and founding the LIKEME Organization, which works to prevent gay bullying and teen suicide. She’s also made the rounds at all the pride festivals and will likely be the most well-behaved human at Dinah Shore this year, where she will perform and sign copies of her book.

Jess talks to Chely Wright about the media firestorm surrounding her coming out last May, the reaction of the country music world, her upcoming performance at The Dinah, where she stands politically, working with Linda Perry, her friendship with Kristin Chenoweth, and whether coming out helped — or hurt her career.

Jess: It must have been incredibly stressful to film a documentary as you were going through those life-changing months before you came out.

Chely: It added another layer of stress definitely, but not because I felt I needed to be “on” or anything. The filmmakers (the TVgals Bobbie Birleffi & Beverly Kopf) just document what’s happening, it’s not a performance. I only did a few sit-down interviews with them. The rest of it they just documented what I was doing – the preparation for coming out. They were filming backstage when I went on The Today Show, etc. But, it is quite an intrusion, I must say, to have filmmakers calling “What are you doing day?” “Oh, I’m riding my bike in Central Park.” “Can we come film it?” “Do what you want, I don’t care!” It’s a long, protracted experience of trying to make yourself available for filmmakers but I really liked the TVgals and appreciated that they were trying to make a good film, even if that sometimes encroached on my space. In a city of this many amazing people to be introduced to these amazing, compassionate filmmakers who saw a story unfolding… I haven’t even seen the film yet. I have no creative control over the film.. It’s not my film, it’s theirs, but I’m excited to see it next week for the first time. It should be hitting film festivals in the Spring.

Jess: After not breathing a word about your long-term relationship to anyone, how were you able swing so extreme in the opposite direction — as a huge gay rights activist with a book, CD, and documentary focused on your coming out story?

Chely: It started with the tipping point of the gun in my mouth. I spent every ounce of energy hiding the fact that I was gay. I think every gay person who has hidden it has a balance sheet, where on one side is “hiding is OK enough” and on the other side is “hiding is killing me.” It was a whole process of — OK, I’ve got my career, I’ve got my relationship and it’s a strain on us but we’re doing OK, and then you reconcile that. And then I found myself without my partner because we broke up, and I looked around and realized everything I gained in material wealth meant NOTHING to me. No one knew me. I had no real friends. I couldn’t reach out to my friends and say I have a broken heart because they didn’t even know I had a relationship. And, I put a gun in my mouth. By the grace of God I didn’t pull the trigger that night and I went upstairs. The next morning I went to go downstairs to where that gun was and I got on my knees and said “Dear God, please take it away.” And the answer I got from that prayer was “this is bullshit. You’re gonna come out. You can’t do this. You will never have a whole, healthy life and you can’t find love.” You’re gonna be Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations in a big house.

Jess: Was coming out to the Nashville community, your friends, family, and record company without the media bonanza and publicity campaign ever an option?

Chely: It was all or nothing for me. I knew that if I had a gun in my mouth I could imagine how many kids were sitting in their bedroom with a bottle of pills, or on the verge in some other way. I’m proud of who I am as a person. I’ve put in nearly 20 years into a public capital. I have been known in country music as one of the most revered, philanthropic, nice, hardworking, All-American people that make records in Nashville — and that counts for something. I wanted to use my voice and the way to do that was to make a grand declaration. I am all of those things and I want to make it clear to the American public, I am a gay woman. Anyone who knows me going back to my childhood in Kansas knows that I was the president of my class all through high school, I started several governing clubs in my high school, I was the captain of my basketball team. I am a leader. When you are a natural leader and then you hide, it’s degrading and it does something to you and something snapped inside of me. I was just tired of not being a leader and someone has to stand up. Look, I could’ve easily just Twittered, “Hey ya’ll, I’m gay!” [laughing] But, I needed to write my story down and I can’t tell you how many 20, 30, 40 year olds have come to me and said, “Thank you for writing your story down because I felt like I was reading the pages of my life.”

Jess: What’s the feeling like when you go back to Nashville these days — post coming out? Did your old friends reach out to you, both in the music community and personally?

Chely: Some of my friends who are artists reached out to me privately, but only one of those artists — Mary Chapin Carpenter — made a public statement about my coming out, to the positive. Mary Chapin Carpenter said, “Chely should be commended for what she’s done.” My other artist friends reached out to me privately and said they loved me and that they were proud of me, but when asked publicly they said no comment.

Jess: Why wouldn’t they support you publicly?

Chely: They wouldn’t want their fans to know they were LGBT friendly. There are also other artist friends who I never heard from again. There are a lot of other people in the industry that I had a friendly email relationship with, or would occasionally text with that I have not heard a word from.

Jess: Is there anyone you can name?

Chely: …. I don’t wanna out anyone as being an asshole. It’s not nice to out people [laughing].

Chely Wright w/ SheDaisy & Ex-Boyfriend Brad Paisley

Jess: What can you tell me about Howard Bragman [the Hollywood publicist who advised Lance Bass, Meredith Baxter, Chaz Bono and numerous sports stars] and the “strategy” for coming out?

Chely: Well, I had pretty much finished writing my book and the film was underway and my record was pretty much finished since 2008. I knew when I came out that I wanted to hit the ground running as an effective voice in the gay community, so I reached out to the executive directors of GLAAD and GLSEN so they could educate me. I knew I needed a publicist who specializes in this and wouldn’t be scared of it. Someone who could help me do this well. And, every single person said there’s only one guy — Howard Bragman. So, I contacted Howard and he was going to be in New York a month later. A month later, we sat down in the Brooklyn Diner and I gave him a draft of my book and said these are the projects I have going and basically told him I needed someone who wasn’t going to cringe and run… The word “gay” scares people in Nashville. And, he called me a few days later and said “I can do this for you and I’m particularly interested in this because you represent something in the gay community that hasn’t been seen.” We obviously haven’t seen a gay country music star. He knew I was working with GLSEN and knew my goal was to try and make the lives better for young people.

“Look, I could’ve easily just Twittered, ‘hey ya’ll, I’m gay!’ But, I needed to write my story down.'”

That’s when the strategy began — to release the book and the record on the same day… I have to tell you, I called my team so many times during the months before May 5 and said “I can’t wait any longer, I’ve gotta move on with my life” and he said, “Chely, we have a good plan here. If you can just wait. Let’s get you to the top of the mountain and when you declare it, more people will hear it.” For me to try and tell Howard Bragman how to roll out a publicity campaign would be like me telling my cardiologist how to do surgery.

I have to say, I initially thought he might be a little jaded, or like it would be old hat for him. I can’t even tell you how many times he sat with me and held my hand and got emotional and said “this is important, you are important.” I love the guy. Absolutely adore him.

Jess: I remember in the weeks leading up to May 5th, there was a big guessing game on all the gay blogs. Intense focus on “who is coming out May 5th?” Were you aware of all the gossip and speculation about who it would be?

Chely: I wasn’t. Not at all. I had gone off the grid in early April for that very reason, so I didn’t know any of that. I didn’t even get back on the grid until August. I didn’t look on Facebook or read any blogs at all. All I was getting were my emails.

Jess: Your friends never tipped you off that there was a media firestorm brewing?

Chely: Not a one. My friends in New York who were probably reading that buzz didn’t tell me because they didn’t want to make me nervous. I was really scared and anxious at that time. I was just so stressed out. When you release a record under normal circumstances, you’re stressed out! But then I had this big revelation of “hey ya’ll, I’m gay” story mixed in so… My friends in Nashville who may have heard that buzz didn’t even know that I was gay, so they weren’t about to call me up and say “hey, did you hear there’s someone gay coming out?” They would NEVER suggest anything like that to me. They never talked about things like that. Even if they may have secretly thought that I was gay, we never talked about gossip, ever.

Jess: There’s a perception within the gay community that coming out has helped your career, since you have all this exposure. Is that true?

Chely: They’re wrong. There’s the gay community that now knows my name and it’s a long leap from the new demographic of people who will come to my Facebook page and hit the “Like” button to them buying my record and coming to live shows. It’s a big stretch from those new fans to make up for the fans I lost. It didn’t help my career. My record sales went directly in half. If it appears from the outside in that it’s helped my career, it could be because I haven’t talked about the negative. You won’t hear me bitching and moaning on my Facebook about the hate mail I’ve gotten. My life has been threatened. I get nasty letters every day, “I’m through with you Chely Wright, you’re going to hell.” There’s a big difference between press and advocacy and…. sometimes people forget that people who sing or make movies, this isn’t just a hobby for us. This is how I pay my bills. In coming out I had a feeling that it would diminish my wage earning, and that feeling was correct. And, I am fine with that.

Jess: Had you not been a singer with a fan base and career to lose, do you think you would’ve come out in your 20s?

Chely: Gosh, that’s hard to imagine. I’ve thought about it. I did feel that I was ‘OK” with God in my late teens, but it’s hard to say… Okay, had I not been a country music singer I might have been a teacher. Teachers that I’ve met have a really hard time coming out because if the students or parents find out they are gay it can cause a lot of problems. It’s horrible what teachers go through. So, in that case – probably not. I also might have been in the military since I’m from a military family. If I had gone down that path I’d obviously be in the same shoes I was as a country singer. I’m also good at math, I might have been an accountant…. that’s very conservative. Again, it’s just so hard for me to imagine doing anything else because I declared at 4 years old, “I’m gonna be a country music star.” It’s all I ever wanted.

Jess: I was a little surprised when I read you’d be performing at The Dinah. The crazy, party vibe of Dinah doesn’t really strike me as your scene. [Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Ke$ha have performed the past two years]. Are you scared?

Chely: It’s no different than country music festivals, like Country Jam in Eau Claire, Wisconsin! I’m no stranger to being the entertainment at a drunk fest! [laughing] I understand that the ladies will be enjoying the spirits, and my job is to go there and sing, talk, sign books and hang out. I’m not a big drinker but I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun! Truthfully, every time I see a large group of gay women I can’t believe how many of us there are. I marvel. My band is excited…we’re gonna have the whole band there.

Jess: You were recently writing new music with Linda Perry. She’s obviously known for pop music (Pink, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys) rather than country. How was it writing with her and any idea when that music will be released?

Chely: I don’t know that what we’ve written will ever be released… we weren’t writing for a specific project. We became friends and were writing songs. That’s kind of how co-writing goes… there’s no guarantee that what we write will ever be heard. But she just blows me away. After sitting down with her for a few days I realized why she’s so incredibly popular and every pop star wants to work with her! Not only is she uber-talented, but her work ethic far exceeds anything. She’s cute, she was like “ya know, I’ve never written anything with a country feel!” The music we have is interesting, cause she obviously brought that pop feel to my music, and we talk frequently and are trying to get back together to write more. It would be my absolute dream to make an entire record with Linda. But gosh, which chick singer doesn’t want to make a record with her!?

Linda Perry with Christina Aguilera, Chely Wright and Pink

Jess: When are you hoping to record your next album?

I feel like I’ve got 6 or 7 songs written for the next record, and I’m writing all the time. The goal is to take the great songs that I have now and make them obsolete and write better ones. It’s almost time to start the planning stages of the next record, though.

Jess: Where do you stand politically? Nashville is obviously a very Republican city.

Chely: Well, I’m historically neither Republican nor Democrat. I maintain that I’m an American. I don’t like political parties because I think that they’re like gangs. So, I’m not in the Bloods or the Crips. That being said, ya know, Nashville is a conservative town in a lot of ways because it’s in the Bible Belt, but it’s also progressive in some ways. There are pockets of forward thinking people. I support the President whoever the President is because I’m a team player and I feel like once we elect someone into office it’s incumbent upon the constituents to get behind the quarterback and see if we can execute the plays. So, I support Obama and when President Bush was in office I supported him. I actually got in a little trouble on the Sean Hannity show because he said, “You’re a good Republican girl. I like that.” And I said “no I’m not, don’t call me such a thing” and he said “well, do you support the President?” and I said, “I do, because he’s our President.” I like Obama. I think he’s a highly intelligent guy… I would like to see marriage equality in all states soon. Having done away with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a big achievement.

In your book you write —

I hear the word ‘tolerance’—that some people are trying to teach people to be tolerant of gays. I’m not satisfied with that word. I am gay, and I am not seeking to be ‘tolerated’. One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.

I think a lot people can relate to feeling funny about bringing their boyfriend or girlfriend home for family holidays because it’s seen as button pushing. How do you think we can get past the point of “tolerance” as a community in the straight world?

Chely: I think the best way to bridge that gap and skip over that mindset of tolerance is to not simply slip out of the closet. I don’t mean come out in a combative way, but come out to your entire family and if you have a partner – bring them around – and don’t accept being less-than. It’s the same reason I didn’t come out to just a few friends. I wanted to make sure that everyone who thought they knew me or came to my shows — that they knew.  People need to come out in a loving way to their family, and make sure that they fully integrate with the rest of the family at holidays. Don’t allow them to treat you less-than. It doesn’t mean you have to go fight with them. If your family won’t accept you bringing your partner, don’t go.

Kristin Chenoweth Chely WrightJess: You and Kristin Chenoweth are always tweeting one another. Have you been friends for a long time?

Chely: Oh, Kristin! So, about a year and a half ago someone said to me – did you know that Kristin Chenoweth loves your “Never Love You Enough” album? I was just like, wow, that’s cool…. cause she’s a great singer who likes my record. Then, just a couple months before I came out I joined Twitter and had no idea how to use it and the person who was running my account was like, “well, you’ve got to say something to Kristin Chenoweth, she just tweeted you!” I didn’t even know how to log in. Anyway, she was tweeting that she was backstage at one of her shows and listening to my record and that was so cool!

She found out that I was living in New York and invited me to her Promises, Promises premiere. So we met and hung out and talked, and it was just a great time. And then a couple weeks later I came out. And I got the sweetest, most amazing email from her and she said “I just read your book” and was so sweet…. and I read her book as well A Little Bit Wicked, and we had so much in common. Both from the Midwest, both Christian, both worked at Opryland in our early years in Nashville…we just hit it off. She really is my friend. We’re not just Twitter buddies [laughs]. We really go eat dinner and hang out, etc.

Jess: You bring up “Twitter buddies.” What’s up with celebrities who tweet each other incessantly? Why don’t they just text message? Why do it publicly with thousands of people reading their notes back and forth?

Chely: Hmmm… I think fans love it. When you think about artists doing shows together – people love to see them on stage together, doing a duet and saying “I’m gonna have my friend Pete Townshend come out and do a song with us!” People really wanna imagine that they’re friends, but the truth is they don’t really hang out. They’re doing one show together. But, in entertainment, we’re all so busy that no one has time to go sit down and be “besties.” For some reason, fans have always been fascinated with people that they like — together. There are music festivals where they pair up legends with new artists, because people love to see the camaraderie. I must say that I kinda think it’s fascinating too. I like to watch celebrities tweeting one another all the time. So, I don’t think it’s that weird, it’s just a new technology. The concept is as old as the day is long!  I also like to see when Kanye West is Twitter fighting with people, I think that’s fascinating! [laughs]

Jess:Tell me you saw the video of Josh Groban singing Kanye West’s tweets!

Chely: Yes! It was hilarious!

For more info on Chely’s tour dates visit
Visit for clips of her upcoming documentary

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Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 240 articles for us.


  1. I’m so proud of Chely Wright, and I like this a lot:
    “One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.”

    Excellent interview, Jess!

  2. When I read Chely Wright’s book, I’d just recently come out myself to my family (I realized that the relationship I was in was both serious & long-term, so I decided I couldn’t keep quiet anymore), and I was still really unsure if I’d made the right decision. My parents…weren’t exactly thrilled with the news, though they weren’t nasty about it either.

    But reading Like Me, I saw what my life could’ve been like if I didn’t come out, I realized how much coming out had freed me, and I really started to gain a sense of peace about it. Even though I am only a casual country fan and wasn’t a Chely Wright fan before (though I did know “Shut Up and Drive”), Chely’s coming out made a real impact on me. So thank you for taking that step, for living your life openly and proudly, and for risking so much in order to make your story an example.

  3. Great interview with a fascinating woman – thanks, Jess!

    This breaks my heart: “My life has been threatened. I get nasty letters every day, ‘I’m through with you Chely Wright, you’re going to hell.'”

    That there are still so many lost, angry people out there. Blegh. But serious kudos to Chely for seeing all of this through, for putting down the gun, and picking up an amazing life!

    I’m also glad for people like her bringing more gay positive visibility to the country music world/more heartland part of the US. I’ve lived there, I know how it can be. Us city-dwellers would do well to remember and better understand our allies and kin in the Bible Belt. :)

  4. I’m gonna be honest, I had never heard Chely Wright’s name before she came out. Since then though, she’s everywhere I turn, in a good way. I’m glad she’s stood up as an advocate, and I hope that the gay community does step in and fill the shoes of the fans she has lost in her openness and honesty.
    Great interview Jess!

  5. fantastic interview!! i love country but to be honest, had never been super into her music. I read her book though, and it was just fantastic. i’ve gone back and listened to her older stuff, and i feel like i have this whole new appreciation for her – like when she and Brad dueted “hard to be a husband, hard to be a wife.” the new album is pretty good, too – “like me” is a really interesting song, and i think i’ve spent afternoons just hitting repeat over and over.
    even if you dont like country or you dont know who she is, if you are gay or you are straight, i cannot recommend her book more!

  6. “I am gay, and I am not seeking to be ‘tolerated’. One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated.”

    I’m not a big fan of country music, but I have a book & cd to buy. Chely Wright is amazing, and this interview is awesome. Great job as always, Jess!

  7. Isn’t that song “Something Positive & Hopeful” great? It’s not on her album, but something she performs live.

  8. Great interview, Jess! Loved Chely’s book as well, and it’s really admirable that she’s such an advocate for LGBT youth.

  9. Chely is so full of it on so many levels. Numerous artists have publically come out and supported her. Everyone from Laura Bell Bundy, Reba, Kristyn (SheDaisy) and others.

    She really needs to quit playing the victim.

    Yes, she could have easily tweeted she was coming out. But she wanted to make money off it. Tie in the book and cd and get a ton of publicity. Did she deserve People magazine, Oprah and all the other appearances because of her music? No, not at all. She got there because she said she prefers women over men.

    Yes, her album sales have dropped in 1/2. Of course, her current album is by far her weakest album. Also, she hadn’t put out product in 6 years or more. Wake up Chely, everyone’s cd sales have fallen off. Again, stop playing the victim!

    Since Carrie Underwood’s cd sales have fallen by more than half (her debut to her most recent album) is that because the straight community didn’t like her getting married? Should she blame the cd sales on something like Ms. Wright tries to?

    Why won’t she “name names” in this article? She had no problem throwing several people under the bus in her book like Brad Paisley and John Rich. Why not throw some more under the bus?

    Also, she acts like she’s not a Democrat. Give me a break. She’s a left winger and thats about all she hangs with these days.

    Also, she keeps saying she’s the first gay country singer. That’s bull. Kristen Hall of Sugarland was “out” and Sugarland sold more copies of their debut cd than Chely had sold in her entire career.

    Kristen Hall doesn’t count in Chely’s world. Neither does KD Lang.

    Jess you wrote a very good article, but I would have liked to have seen you press Chely on some more things.

    • I think the marketing of Chely as the “first out country singer” has more to do with her publicist Howard Bragman, than Chely. Jennifer Knapp and Jennifer Nettles (from Sugarland) are other country/Christian singers with a very conservative following who have come out in recent years. Also, Chely has gotten all the press because she wrote a tell-all autobiography full of drama, they didn’t. Just like on American Idol, your “story” is part of the package.

  10. Great interview Jess! I’m so glad the country music community has its own LGBT advocate in Chely. She’s doing a lot to change hearts and minds. And she’s not bad to look at either! :)

  11. oh wow a lesbian came out and no one cares, how incredibly fascinating and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  12. Pingback: Boo! Country Singer Chely Wright Says Coming Out Hurt Album Sales |

  13. Pingback: Boo! Country Singer Chely Wright Says Coming Out Hurt Album Sales | Gossip Celeb Today

  14. Great interview. I’ve met Chely several times and been a fan since the early 90’s. She’s a beautiful and sweet woman. It was so incredible to read her story because at a point in my life I went through all those same feelings. She’s an inspiration.

  15. Pingback: Daily Outline: January 10, 2010

  16. Pingback: Chely Wright: “Coming Out Tanked My Record Sales…”

  17. she seems so classy and just awesome. i don’t particularly enjoy country music, but i tip my hat to her. (get it? because it’s cowboy speak?? ok. i’ll show myself out now…)

    • i am trying to think of cowboy puns to this because it’s already tuesday and i haven’t made any award-worthy posts yet

      maybe waking up at 5 this morning was steering myself in the wrong direction

  18. Pingback: Chely Wright: ‘I Get Death Threats’ Over Being Gay | Snapler

  19. I had come out to a selective group about 8 months prior to Chely’s coming out. It was her song “Damn Liar” off of her coming out CD “Lifted Off the Ground” that haunted me and finally gave me the strength to come out to my parents. And I am SO GLAD I did! They have been loving and accepting. Living an honest life is so satisfying.

    I wish Chely all the best in her career. I am sad that country music fans are not embracing this incredibly talented woman. I will support her every effort because she made such a difference in my life by being open and honest. Can’t wait to see the documentary.

  20. Pingback: Chely Wright: ‘I Get Death Threats’ Over Being Gay

  21. Great! I’ve been looking forward to us interviewing Ms. Wright. Perhaps because I was so inexplicably devastated by her book that I still can’t talk about it.

    • I should just publish my kind of incoherent draft of an Auto book review, which I just found and apparently begins: “After I finished Chely Wright’s memoir, I felt like I just got hit by a bus.”

      • Interesting interview. I work in Country radio, and think that Chely’s comments regarding the reasons her album sales are lower are surprising. Chely hasn’t released a “radio-friendly” song in quite some time. This isn’t based on her sexuality, but on the most recent projects, or lack of them. She’s certainly not the only Country music genre artist to see a drop in sales, it’s been a trend industry-wide. I think she’s being a little unfair in using her coming out as an excuse for her loss in popularity. Chely hasn’t been with large record label for a long time now. Matter of fact, her most recent labels have been small, unstable ventures, incapable of promoting any artist..not just one who happens to be gay. Chely is a talented singer. Just call it what it really is….lack of new material that is easily accessed. Chely, if people – your fans, are liking your product, they will request it, and we will play it. And that translates into sales.

  22. I think for some people coming out cracks you open like an egg because of the big bundle of mixed emotions it comes with and even more so if its been something that was a long time coming. I know for me it left me feeling incredibly insecure and vulnerable but then there comes this point where you sort of gather all your shit together again and you realise that you are living free and being who you are and you start to feel like the lesbian version of Superman or something.

    I really admire Chely because I don’t actually think she’s in the second phase of that yet but she’s still willing to face things and be an advocate for LGBT issues. Like to me she still seems to be a bit dependent upon and perhaps even oversensitive about people’s reactions and that’s to be expected when you’ve been bracing yourself for rejection for years.

    I dunno if any of that made sense I just think she’s great for continuing to do what she does even though its probably terrifying for her. Just look at Ellen in her coming out interviews compared to now. She was so painfully and obviously torn apart by it all and now she seems invincible. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Chely yet.

  23. Pingback: Chely Wright: ‘I Get Death Threats’ Over Being Gay | News |

  24. Chely:

    You should have contacted ME! I began my former life, as a Nashville-based publicist, while you were a toddler.

    Not to disparage Howard Bragman, since, when a talking head is required, he’s on TV talk’s “A” list, but whatever the man knows about publicity strategy, he doesn’t know Music Row like you and I do!

    There’s a second chance for you, if you’re willing to accept the delay that comes with a setback.

    Don’t give your potential allies short shrift!

    Stacy Harris
    Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
    Stacy’s Music Row Report

    • (I don’t think she reads the comments on the interviews other people post that they had with her)

  25. Pingback: Country Star Chely Wright Says Coming Out Cost Her Half Her Sales… « Jumping Anaconda

  26. Pingback: Chely Wright: ‘I Get Death Threats’ Over Being Gay

  27. Um, I can think of many reasons why you censored…I mean…removed my earlier comment but I’m still a little disappointed that you did. That is all.

  28. Really great interview Jess, I think you ask interesting questions that haven’t been answered before and are just generally insightful. So thanks for all of your awesomeness.

  29. Keep on Cheyl

    I loved you music before, I still love it.
    Whatever happens; keeps on make music. It’s your music that count not who you are, that’s your personal case
    I still remember that you are a big fan of my biggest C&W artist Buck Owens
    love you Per Inge

  30. GayCareBear44
    January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm
    The truth is, this woman has crossed the line by naming names and calling others “out”. Effectively burning bridges that she had no business crossing to begin w/. What little talent she has has been overshadowed by her own narcissism and need for glorification. Death threats? Truthfully, I don’t think anybody cares enough to threaten her life. She “came out” by attacking others and this is what has cost her what ever little fan base she had left. It doesn’t help that her talent can’t stand on it’s own either.

    Loving yourself is good, I believe in that but not at the detriment of others. I am gay but I feel her stunt is dishonest. The victim card is so old and overdone. It has been known in Nashville for years that Ms. Wright is… okay, I’ll go with gay (?) she chose to stay in the “closet”. I am not convinced she is being anymore honest now “out then when she was “in”.

  31. Chely, good for you for having the courage to be honest with yourself primarily, and the music world secondarily. Unless people have lived in one’s shoes, they are in no position to be judgmental, yet all too often we, as people, are. The very fact that people can support you and enjoy your work only insofar as they approve of your personal choices (that have no bearing on them whatsoever) is symptomatic of the narrow, feeble, and overly-conservative thinking that, unfortunately, so many country music people demonstrate. As a country music lover, and as a human being, I find your personal choices do not influence my listening choices. I only find it sad that we live in a society that purports to be free, to want its citizens to live and let live, and yet you receive such mindless and ridiculously negative messages, including death threats. Death threats? For being a lesbian? I am saddened that people can think that way. I’m also saddened that we live in a society where a person still has to “come out,” and can’t simply “be.” You have nothing of which to be ashamed, nothing for which to apologize, and nothing that needs explanation. Best of wishes for your career, and never forget, you have many supporters out here, regardless of your personal decisions.

  32. you guys this interview was totes quoted (uncredited) in my local paper today. i squealed a little inside because someone with printing press power in my city reads autostraddle.

  33. Pingback: Chely Wright Engaged

  34. Pingback: A Gay Old Opry | Brooklyn Country

  35. Pingback: Celebrating 5 female artists who are Lesbian or Bi - FIFTY SHADES OF GAY

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