TMZ beat People magazine to the punch with the disclosure that country music's Chely Wright plans to come out this week as a lesbian.
The 39-year-old singer scored a #1 country song back in 1999 with “Single White Female,” when she was named Academy of Country Music new artist of the year.
Wright is the first major country artist ever to come out. She has been romantically linked to a number of celebs, including Brad Paisley.
This is a big deal in the country world. Chely is rolling the dice on her career … it's unclear how traditionally-conservative country fans will react.
Interesting … she lists Howard Bragman as her publicist, who was the mastermind behind the Chaz Bono story.
Hmmm. LGBT folks are divided as to whether this is significant news or ho-hum-not-a-big-name coming out. My personal opinion is that this does matter. Setting aside those “a ha” moments (Queen Latifah), there is bravery in this much less well-known, but still popular woman taking a step out of the closet. Isn't that what we want — people to be proud of who they are?
If she comes out, Chely is rolling the dice on her career, just like many of us do when we come out. She probably has a bit more of a financial buffer, but the risk is there. The potential payoff is there as well … a country music star can reach audiences most of us can't touch. She humanizes “the gay” in our society for an entirely new audience. From Queerty.com:
The significance of a country music name coming out could prove very good here in SW Pennsylvania where Toby Keith concerts turn the Northside upside down. Our challenge is to reach out into the hearts and minds of Pennsylvanians who don't have openly gay icons in their lives. Now they just might.