Editor’s Note: Singer-songwriter Chely Wright is the author of the autobiographical book "Like Me." Her coming out process was filmed in the documentary "Wish Me Away." This is an edited version of her conversation with CNN about Anderson Cooper’s announcement, why she came out, and what happened after.
by Chely Wright, Special to CNN
I’m happy about Anderson (coming out) and that he didn’t allow himself to be a whisper.
Opinion: Thank you, Anderson
I hid for 16 years of my career.
It became worth it to hide – until it is not worth it anymore.
Video: Chely Wright on coming out as a lesbian
I was afraid.
Singing is not my hobby, it is my job. I was afraid of losing my livelihood.
I hit my rock bottom in 2006, when I realized no one really knew me. I had very detached relationships with human beings, and no one really knew much about me.
That is how it is when you are burdened with fear – you never know.
Love doesn’t grow in a dark closet. It can happen, but it won’t survive.
I made the decision to come out in 2007. My life got easier the moment I decided to come out – I knew that freedom was on its way.
I had steeled myself as best I could for negative fallout. I had a feeling that some tour dates would be cancelled and records would not be sold.
From the day that I officially came out, on May 4, 2010, many people that had been fans aren’t anymore. My mother did not take it well at all and we don’t speak, and that was a cost.
Many people are very misinformed about people like me. I am a Christian. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. People had it in their head that there is no one gay in country music.
LGBT is a unique minority in which we have to identify. Straight allies have to be out too.
I am a storyteller by nature and songwriter, and I thought it would be a tremendous honor to advocate for LGBT youth in particular.
My whole objective in coming out was to challenge the stereotypes.
When you are a public person with public capital, I say those who are safe and able should look themselves in the mirror and say, can I make a difference? There is no definitive indictment when they don’t come out, but I know something is going on, something is keeping them from coming out – when you know that by standing up and saying "I’m gay," it might make (some young kids) feel less alone.
I would like to see those young people enjoy the very diverse communities that America provides.
Change and equality only happens when people stand up and identify.
No civil rights movement has ever been progressed on a whisper.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chely Wright.
Excellent insight on the subject. Please continue posting good article. Thank you
People will never understand what it feels like until their facted with the deep feeling of living in silents. Living in silent only hurt the one's we love. Coming out helps bring out the beauty that is in our heart's. Gay people are different but we still have a loving heart and can love just like anyother person.
Do what you want and let others do as they see fit (aside from murdering and the like) then, once you die, which you will, find out the truth then and deal with those consequences afterwards if there are any. What's the point of arguing about this at all. Seriously, who cares!!!! Has anyone ever changed their mind here? I doubt it, everyone is way too busy pontificating.
Stop throwing pearls to swine.
Who cares? P.s. Anderson may have allowed someone to publically acknowledge that he is gay, but we knew...The thing is..Nobody cares. At least nobody I know cares..Live your life, do your thing as long as you don't hurt me or infringe on my freedom, you can do what you want. Chely, you had one hit. It wasn't the fact that you were gay that people stopped listening to you..it's that country fans didn't connect with you like they do Carrie, or Faith or Reba.
let her be! We are strange in different ways!
I didn't read many of the comments here. Honestly, it's typically a bunch of propaganda or drivel, but I just wanted to thank you for writing this article. I haven't told everyone in my life about my sexual preferences, but I did decide to tell my mother and a few close friends. Telling my mother was the hardest thing for me. I expected her to have a reaction like yours did, but she looked at me after a moment or two and said 'does this mean you aren't the person that I loved and raised as my child?" and I said no, I'm exactly the same person I have always been. She replied with a laugh 'well then what why are you crying?' I said I was worried about what she thought etc etc. she said 'I find it a little strange that you waited so long to tell me, but I don't care who you are with as long as they treat you the way that you deserve and I don't care what you tell me it will never change my opinion of you unless you've been pretending to be someone else all these years.' She went on to mention that I shouldn't ever cry over who I am unless I'm ashamed of who I am because she would never be ashamed of me.
I wish that more people could be like my mother. I mean if you guys want to get technical, God says you're supposed to love everyone. It's high time some of you started practicing what you're so ready and willing to preach without making all these exceptions. People like Ms. Wright and Mr. Cooper know how it feels to live with a secret of this magnitude. They write about it simply because it somehow makes it easier on those of us in hiding to say 'well they did it in front of millions of people, why am i struggling to tell a handful.'
Thanks for your efforts. I'm not a big country music fan, but I always loved your songs and your voice.
if the world had not prepared my family for me i would not of said anything and kept it to myself .
Chely you are a jewel but you were making your business in country music and they will not change for you. Hell, your mother wouldn't even change for you. Sad for you.
I am a Christian. The "christians" that spew hatred and condemn others are not true Christians. Just because I don't sin the same way as others, doesn't mean I am better, I am still a sinner. God called us as witnesses, not judges.
Looks like the lyrics to her song "Single White Female" have a whole new meaning now.
She is definitely beautiful and talented. I do miss her music from back then.
She is a stunning woman!
The Bible says more than just "don't judge" fellow sinners. It calls all sinners to repentance...to TURN AWAY from their sin. Is it loving to allow a friend to continue in sin simply because you're trying to not judge them? no. It IS loving to gently counsel brothers and sisters to turn away from sin. LOVE does not equal letting a person walk blindly in sin, it means accepting the person as a fellow human being with respect. Many Christians don't the difference between harshly shaming a person for their sin and lovingly helping them out of it...but that doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater and allow sin. It means we stand up for the truth as we show basic respect for fellow men and women.
Its an amazing feeling to have all the weight lifted. It's important to be counted, because I believe had more people came out sooner, America would have been more inclusive sooner. Nonetheless, it's never too late. Discrimination and setbacks will happen because of closed minded people in high places. I was a good engineer in a very conservative career. The relentless question why I haven't gotten married and side jokes about gay people driven me to give up what I had loved and studied so hard for. I eventually moved to San Francisco where I can start living life again and never looked back at my least career and old friends/acquaintances. That was my cost for coming out, but I am much better as a person for that. In an ideal world, where there is no discrimination, no one has to go through a process of coming out. For those that are not gay, it's hard to fully understand the struggle.
Why is it necessary to "announce" you are gay? Just go about your business as usual. You have your friends and family and that includes me . I just care that you are a compassionate human being period!
"Just go about your business?" That is why they are coming out. So they can go about their business. Get married. Get visitation rights in the hospital. Get spouse benefits. If they were not lacking civil rights they would not be making a big deal about it.
It seems that its the latest trend now :(
I'm not a Country Music fan so I have to ask...........who is this woman and why would anybody give a hoot if she's gay, straight, oblong or undulated???????????
As for Anderson, he's been "out" for years. Yaaaaaawn! Since CNN is Obama's Campaign manager, Anderson's been 'chose' to bolster Obama's announcement that he supports an unnatural lifestyle.
Now that's out of the way, can we get back to the Economy, Jobs, Infrastructure, Immigration etc etc etc?
It is sad how people who call themselves Christians can be so judgmental and hateful. It is truly shameful.
How is is that God always gets sucked into these commentaries? I'm not sure the "voice in the whirlwind" really has the time or gives a rip one way or the other. Perhaps best to leave the "voice" out of the debate. Job got the interview he thought he wanted and spent the balance of his time trying to get his socks back on. Regarding the article.... not exactly the most burning issue of the day for most people. Their minds are cluttered with things like jobs, or the lack thereof, home foreclosures, wars, illegal immigration, national and personal debt, crime, healthcare, forest fires, etc.
People who don't believe in God USE His name when it suits them, to cover their own bad choices and failures.
A bit like Obama, really. He doesn't believe in Congress but HE only uses them to cover his bad choices and failures too!
It must be a psychological "thing" wsith failures then, eh?
"No civil rights movement has ever been progressed on a whisper."
Really? This is a morality issue, not a civil rights issue.
Yes. Thank you for pointing out that ending bigotry and discrimination is a moral issue.
Well done, miamigrrrl!!! U rock.
Agreed Steve. Excellent comment.
"love the sinner, hate the sin"
Who cares? Less than 1 percent of the U.S. Pop is gay and by the way CNN major media plays the 'gay' card they would have us believe that a full 25 percent of the U.S. Pop is gay vis-a-via the over representation of gays in the industry. Cover more important stories: Obama's trillion dollar debts, Saudi Arabia obtaining nuclear weapons from China to guard against Iran and of course Obama care that will bankrupt the nation and will probably plunge the nation into a depression.
The trouble is Jawal, Americans have been fed a diet of 'Hollywood Junk Food' for so long that the REAL world – like, economy, Jobs, Immigration, inequality etc, fade into the background..... and ONLY sensationalism and a small percentage of unnatural people trying to have their lifestyles made , somehow, "respectable matters .
I'm not much of a country music fan although I do enjoy some of Chelly's music. If I was a little bit of a fan before, I am really a fan of hers now for being so brave and dignified. Peace, Chelly. You rock.
I agree. I wasn't a fan before, but now I am. I have had the wish me away album in my car all week. Love Note to the coroner! Especially now that I know she struggled so with coming out. Nashville can be cruel, they iced the Dixie Chicks too on a moral high horse kick. Ruins careers to disagree with Jesus and Country music.
Wow, so many people that are sick of the topic, or hearing about so and so announcing they are gay. Whatever.
But as a society all wrapped up in what's going on with the Kardasians, Snookie, or finding out who "gets the rose" in some phony match-up "reality" show, it shouldn't be too difficult hearing about a celeb here and there that wants to come out. I think we can all cope, even though we should focus on more important topics..
Kudos to you Chely (and Anderson)!
Sorry to break it to you intolerant anti-religious nutjobs, but your voting base also includes a large portion of Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. who vote on the left as well as on the right. You need them to bring your party to power, plain and simple. You can spew your hate and bigotry, but you're no better than those neo-cons. And for you zealot "believers" out there...casting stones on others is laughable and very anti-christian...fools.
Mike, let me clue you in:
We are a SECULAR nation founded by men who feared the ignorant, religious, unwashed masses.
The earth is 4.5 BILLION years old, NOT 6000 years old.
Dinosaurs existed, just not with man.
Evolution, and Global Climate change, are scientific facts and our ancestors are over 6 million years old.
No, the world won't end concurrent with the Mayan calendar.
The whole "god" & "jesus" thing: myths invented by man and is no more relevant or accurate than the Greek/Roman gods, Hinduism, Mithrasian faiths, etc. 98% of all christianity is LIBERALLY lifted from preceding "pagan" faiths (oh, the irony!).
There is NO peer reviewed, legitimate academically accepted proof that "jesus" ever existed and you'd think the most important "person" in christianity would have proof of life.
The parting of the Red Sea, Noah's Ark, "jesus" rising from the dead, etc......all myths.
Abortion? That issue was decided with Roe vs. Wade, get over it.
I don't care what you believe provided you keep ALL religion out of public schools, science & academia, foreign and domestic policy, laws & jurisprudence. KEEP IT OUT OF OUR LIVES. FOAD.
And since when did the "theory of evolution become a scientific fact? By definition a scientific fact is an observation that has been confirmed repeatedly and is accepted as true (although it's truth is never final). I don't dispute the theory of evolution. Neither do I disbelieve that evolution is inconsistent with a supernatural cause behind the "Big Bang." Both are theories that warrant discussion and have yet to be fully resolved in the minds of theologians or scientists. You might wish to moderate your opinions and respect the opinions of others. Neither your ramblings, nor mine, are the end all.
Ya know who really cares, I too am tired of hearing about it all the time!
apparently the cost of your coming out, or any celebrities as a matter of fact, is for the rest of us, being bombarded with information that know one needs to know nor cares about... all so you can use ever scrap of publicity in pursit of your "15 minutes of fame"
if we say we have no sin we decieve ourselves and the truth is not in us.......john
Zeus loves you.
Why was my quote from Chronicles of Narnia deleted? It is recognised as being based on religion! CNN that is religious intolerance!
"The Witch knew the Deep Magic. But if she could have looked a little further back... she would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." Aslan
What people do in their bedroom with their husband, wife, lover, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend is no one's business but their own. As a straight male I find it appauling that this is STILL an issue. Who cares who people love? I have many gay friends, and never once has it occured to me that they are doing something wrong by loving who they love. There are far more issues with this world than telling someone they can't love someone else. Let's try and get to the real problems of the world, and leave the gay issue alone already. Once again: WHO CARES??? :)
A HUGE round of applause!
But, Adam, how will God know who's gay if no one points it out to him? Why, some of them might actually get away with it!!! (Please note the dripping sarcasm....)
Adam, thank you SO much for your common sense comment. Sadly, there are many people who have very little to live for, so they fill their lives with hatred and fear. Happy people do not care who loves who, they simply enjoy their lives and hope that others can find a way to do the same.
Well Said. :-)
i couldn't agree more. well said
Thank you, Adam. Think of the possiblities if more people were as open-minded and cool as you.
Anderson was not a surprise. Sandusky was a big surprise to me though. I hate that we waste a whole month on it. The only way you are going to get away from not having people stand out for their differences is to stop calling out those differences.
EVERYONE SHOCKED BY COOPERS ANNOUNCEMENT GIVE A QUICK SHOUT OUT! (CRICKETS....CRICKETS)..
Everyone who really gives a rip give a shout out. Probably no many giving a shout out.
What does Sandusky have to be with being gay?
Because he is gay. He continued his horrilble relationships with these boys past 18, when they are considered men. Men did not turn him off. I think he just went with what he thought he could control. Probably preferred men, but knew he would get blackmailed or found out. Thought he could control the situation with boys and young men and he was correct. I'm sure he'll be full blown gay in prison. Its a preverted situation and a preverted mental state. I grant you that, but he is still gay. May be many things in addition.
@KeithF – Sandusky is a pedophile who was attracted to pre-pubescent children. Before puberty the bodies of girls and boys are not that different in appearance. The reason Sandusky preyed on boys is because they are easier to get access to. People tend to keep a closer eye on their daughters than their sons. This is a mistake, of course, and I think people are going to learn to watch out for their sons too.
Sandusky is a pedophile, which is NOT the same as being gay. If he had been molesting girls, you wouldn't be labeling him as 'straight'.
Phlea, you got that right!
Keith is one of those people who tries to understand, but in the end, the best he can do is to compare the dark pathology of abusing children with consensual adult love.
*Note to Keith – please take at a bare minimum, at least one basic psychology class, so you can at least learn the difference between rape and adult love.
I don't understand how parents can cut off contact with their children. If one of my children told me they were gay I would be saddened but only because I know that their lives are going to be made more difficult by this fact. Nothing could make me love them less. In fact I believe this is true for Chely's Mother too. It is the sadness coupled with guilt that somehow we as a parent failed to protect our child from an unhappy fate, that makes a parent turn away from their child.
I agree that it is very sad for a parent to turn away from a child that has come out. In my own family, my mother did not, when my sister came out. Looking back on that, I'm very proud of my mom. I think the main reason a parent would do this is fear of the unknown, or a lack of understanding that this is not a choice, or a "lifestyle" ( I detest hearing people refer to the "gay lifestyle"). I admire people in public or private lives who take the risk of coming out, knowing they will suffer consequences. They are paving the way and forcing tolerance and change. Good for them!
Do I care if you're gay, black, red, white, disabled, etc. etc.? Why do gays feel that they have to announce themselves (come out of the closet)? Are they that narcisstic that they think people care? Seriously, this is getting tiring. I guess people who are bipolar, schizo should announce to the world too. Jeez, how about just living your life and not boring others with the details......
Don't blame Gay men and Lesbians for your hatred issues, of which there are many.
Because a large number of people still think there is shame in being gay. And unless prominent people stand up and let people know that its' not just 'wierdos' and 'those kind of people' that are gay, that 'normal' people are gay, people who are sucessful and respected and 'real', gay people may continue to be marginalized. That is why.
What if a person was severely injured and needed care and the avail. dr. was gay. Would that person say "don't touch me or help me, you're gay"? I think that would be funny, everyone gay on this side of the room, everyone straight on that side, and see where we'd be. Talented people from all walks and all persuasions, just live and let live, be happy.
I stil think Chely Wright has a terrific and unique voice. I'm still a fan of her older music, just not her new music. Her being gay has nothing to do with why I haven't bought a CD lately. The new stuff just isn't country at all and (clean & twangy) country is what I prefer. Be true to yourself Chely! When old fans waiver, new ones will come. Life goes on ...
Interesting. I used to love, LOVE Melissa Etheridge's music. Did not bother me she was gay. It did change a little how I perceived her music. Was it written for a man, for a woman, etc? It's so subjective...Then her personal lissues in the press – gf's, and kids, breakups just seemed to overtake her music and talent....I stopped seeing her as the songwriter and more a celebrity. I'm sure she never would have intended this as a backdrop to her coming out. Still consider her one of THE best songwriters in the world, but sorry to see her personal issues taking the forefront.
Jesus Loves you. Not Sin.
well said.....thank you but for me and my friend...Not Justyet
Jesus loves everyone. Including rapists, murderers, and child abusers as well. That doesn't mean he approves of the lifestyle. What it means is He loves everyone, even if they aren't living the standards he requires in order to return and live with Him again.
Michael B., I don't know which God/Jesus you are referring to but the Jesus that I know, the only son of God sent to die for us all, and was resurrected as promised 3 short days later, so that I could return to live with them, had no such "requirement" for all to be able to do exactly that is as the Bible clearly reads to "BELIEVE Jesus is the Son of the Living God whom God sent to die on the cross for our eternal sins so that we CAN and WILL live for eternity". TO NOT BELIEVE THAT is the only thing that will keep us from doing exactly as the Lord Our God promised. THAT is MY God, His SON and my brother, with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and experienced TOO MANY miracles NOT to believe... and it breaks my heart that there are too many who don't know Him and live their lives without "HOPE" because they believe otherwise. Living in THIS world, especially in THIS day and AGE, without His UNCONDITIONAL LOVE MERCY, and FORGIVENESS, is almost unbearable to me and I KNOW that if He WASN'T GOD, it would be unbearable to Him. Praise His Holy Name...!
Your 'god' is no better than this woman's intolerant mother.
Your god will send me to burn & suffer horribly for all eternity if I don't profess my love? How compassionate.
Maybe you read the part in the Bible about the consequences of sin. And the part about repent and be baptized and go and sin no more. You left out a BIG chunk about God.
I simply cannot believe//trust WHATEVER in any person, real or imagined who would love anyone that is a rapist or murderer or child molester. I suppose that's why I could never get with the religious crowd.
Wrong. The Jesus I know loves EVERYONE, regardless of your judgements. It is NOT A SIN to be gay. Get that through your rotted heads.
You're absolutely right. Jesus loves all regardless of their lifestyle. The hatred just keeps going on and on.
You can deny christianity but don't say it's not a sin according to the Bible:
English Standard Version (ESV)
25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Don't forget about the old testament Leviticus. The whole man lie down with a man... abomination etc...
Jeses does love everyone but he does not and will not condone sin as spelled out in the Bible.
It's curious cindy about what is actually defined as "sin." Given all of the negative attention that usually hits openly gay people, I think it's safe to say that people don't choose to be gay just as much as straight people don't choose to be straight. The idea of sin implies a choice, and an action and although I am acutely aware that the descriptions in Leviticus, Acts and Romans are all actions, consider the ramifications of what your actually asking. It is it honestly fair for these people, who have no control over what their feeling much like you and I, to live a lonely life and a lie? I am not disagreeing about what the bible says, merely over our interpretation on the idea of sin...
To you Bible nuts and "Christians" out there: YOU ARE NOT JESUS. It doesn't matter if you condone sin. And if you will recall, Jesus would sit down to eat dinner with all manner of people, including those you would classify as "sinners." Remember the dinner at Matthew the tax collector's house? I think that showed more about Jesus' character and desire for a loving world than any other story of the Bible. Your version of morality implies that you think you're Jesus and can pass judgement on others; what they do is between them and Jesus, and you have NO SAY in their lives.
Gee you actually KNOW Jesus. What does he look llike? What kind of voice does he have? How tall is he and how much does he weigh? You and your kind are pathetic creatures that delude themselves constantly.
But what about my magic man in the sky? He loves me bunches. :)
I have watched A C for as Long as I can remember and will continue to do so for as long as I live. I am in the closet and have a relationship with a buddy that started 4 years ago and we get along great. He is married as well with a couple of kids. Are we gay? YES ...are we bi? YES..are we straight? YES.
To hear about Anderson today says alot about who I am ...we will stay in the closet but when a celebrity like A C comes out , it makes us feel that we are doing nothing wrong except living a lie. We compare ourselves to the movie, Brokeback Mountain. We will live our lives in secrecy. Its why we are happy. Thank you Anderson Cooper
But Not Justyet, you are carrying on with a married man. The gay part is OK but the married man part is a waste of your time. He's committed to another lifestyle for now. How about finding yourself a guy of your own to love?
Yep. Gay doesn't matter. Married is wrong. More people than just you and he can be badly hurt by that.
I agree with the others. If this man is married he SHOULD NOT be cheating on his wife. He made a commitment to her. If he cannot kept that commitment then he needs to divorce her. It's not fair to her.
Gay people are coming into the light for the first time as they start winning legal equality as well as hearts and minds. Visibility is at the heart of equality.
this is hillarious, basically chely wright hopped on the gay band wagon, and look, now she gets to write a blpog for CNN. Talk about exposure! Look, gays will be gays, they are humans like yhe rest of us, but for goodness sakes, it is getting boring as hell reading about them, seeing them in movies or tv etc... what are they 3% of the population at best? And how much 'airtime' do they get? Too damn much.
easy buddy...so what...we are all human
In Grand Prairie, Tx the show was wonderful! Sitting in the bnoalcy I was worried we wouldn't get the full effect of the dancers but although the venue was good, the whole experience came in very clear! I thought the lighting was blinding at times and over powered the dancers but over all a very pleasant time!The video expression with the numbers/dance were timed and very eye appealing! The finally was tremendous! My wife and I have followed the show every season and love how they give good ordinary kids (not stinking celebrities who receive more than they deserve already) opportunities to use their God given abilities to entertain us!! Nice going dancers and the crew! God bless! Jesus is Lord!!!
Mike in NJ, touchet! I agree with everything you've posted here. Incidentally, Anderson never did make a big deal of coming out. He said he has always lived his life openly to his friends and family and co-workers. All he did was give permission for others to publicly acknowledge it now. It's the rest of us making a big deal of it, and I think that's great. When the public as a whole truly IS bored enough to stop noticing such "comings-out," then the act will have fulfilled its purpose and no longer be necessary. Thanks again, Anderson, Ellen, Rachel, and the rest!
Easy buddy, indeed.
I wouldn't hold too tightly to that "3%" figure. Keep in mind that not everyone is out; we can only hope that more people will feel comfortable being so with the honesty of highly esteemed people who are LGBTQI or A. That is the purpose of this airtime.
Chely didn't "hop on the bandwagon" she started coming out in 2007 (5 years ago) and officially came out 2 years ago. Also, she didn't write this blog. It is excerpts from an interview she did. Sorry to see that your lack of reading comprehension is on par with your idiocy. Please do the rest of the world a favor and not breed.
Agree, Mike P.
JUST WATCHED YOUR "Wish Me Away" and what a powerful movie!! Thank You for sharing your most personal feelings with the world!! So sad that you had to be in so much pain for so many years of your life!! Thank God for your Dad and the loving family members that you have!! I believe that all those "Christians" that hate and wish ill on LGBT's will be suprised, when dead are going straight down to HELL!! GOD LOVES EVERYONE!!!!!!!
WISHING YOU AND YOUR WIFE A WONDERFUL AND LOVING LIFE!!!!!! YOU SO DESERVE IT!!!!!
My partner and I have enjoyed 21. years so far and are going strong!! In "the closet" most of the years but that was okay because we had each other!!!
With Peace, Love and Hope
Sabina : )
uh, hey, I am also a gay christian. Do we have a problem?
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