article placeholder

Chely Wright comes out of the country closet

Newly out country musician Chely Wright

Last month, for the first time in the history of country music, an established country singer came out. In the May 17 issue of People magazine, Chely Wright discussed how she knew she was gay by age 9, but thought she had to hide it to succeed in music — living a lie that drove her to consider suicide in 2006.

Wright had her biggest hit in 1999 with “Single White Female,” which went to No. 1; made People’s list of Most Beautiful people in 2001, and dated fellow country singer Brad Paisley. In her People interview, she described how she decided to come out when making her new album, “Lifted Off the Ground.”

article placeholder

The road to country music’s first openly gay star

Some may argue that Chely Wright isn’t technically the first major country singer to come out as gay.

Butch crooner kd lang had three country albums under her belt — along with the 1989 Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance — before she discussed being a lesbian in a 1992 interview with The Advocate.

But it’s difficult to consider lang the first mainstream country artist to come out because she was never really “in” — neither in the closet nor accepted in the Nashville-centered world of country music.

article placeholder

Outspoken: Country singer Chely Wright, U.S. Rep. Steve King and more…

Country star Chely Wright recently came out of the closet

“When I first moved to Nashville, I worked at Opryland and there are a lot of gay boys running around at those themeparks. I was afraid there was some identifiable factor in me that they could pick up on, that they might know that I was gay.”

— Country singer Chely Wright, who recently came out, in a candid interview last week with Oprah Winfrey (“Oprah” via ContactMusic.com, May 19)