Country music star Chely Wright is about to come out of the closet and announce that she is a lesbian.
For about a week now, many have wondered who the so-called ‘major celebrity’ is who will come out of the closet and announce that he or she is gay on May 5. Today, reports broke that Wright is reportedly the mystery celebrity.
Wright will announce that she is a lesbian on May 5 through a cover story on People Magazine and several interviews, including an appearance on the hit television talk show The View.
While reaction on a Sunday evening is somewhat muted, not surprising given the nature of Sunday afternoon , the reaction that Wright gets in the country music community, which is generally more conservative than other musical genres, will be interesting to monitor.
Best known perhaps for her big hits “Shut up and Drive” and “Single White Female”, Wright is well known by country music fans, if not exactly a crossover star on the level of the Dixie Chicks.
The motivation for Wright to announce her sexuality at this time is not really known. Cynics, however, will point out that she has a book coming out this week called “Like Me” as well as a new CD called “Lifted off the Ground”.
In the past, Wright, who has never been married, has been linked romantically to several celebrities, including fellow country music artist Brad Paisley.
The really interesting aspect of this story may prove ultimately not that Chely Wright is the mystery gay celebrity. Chely Wright is not a major star outside of country music and many may think, “who?” when they hear the news and see her face on People Magazine.
What will be interesting, however, is how the core country music fan, which tends to be more traditional and socially conservative than average, will react to her. While we are likely far pas the time in which a star would be outright ostracized for admitting their homosexuality, record sales and concert tours may reflect another reality.
When the Dixie Chicks spoke out against then President George Bush, for example, from the stage in Europe during a concert, they clearly took a hit to their popularity among their core fans. The Dixie Chicks, however, are more mainstream and better known overall than Chely Wright, as evidenced by their upcoming tour with the legendary country rock group The Eagles.
So while Natalie Maines can afford to annoy the core country music audience and still find herself on the same concert tour as Don Henley, Chely Wright presumably has less runway to work with and could find that she has taken a considerable gamble with her career. But perhaps what is really important to her is her ability to be open and honest about who she is, regardless of the career fallout.
As Chely Wright makes the formal announcement that she is gay and appears on People Magazine and The View, we will likely see very quickly what, if any, the impact will be.
Source: TMZ Staff, “Chely Wright — She’s Coming Out”, tmz.com