Country singer Chely Wright has announced to the world that she is gay on the cover of this week’s People magazine, in her autobiography Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer released today and in an interview on The Today Show early this morning.
The 39-year-old Chely tells Today’s Natalie Morales that the pressure from having to conceal her sexuality lead her to contemplating suicide:
“I had a 9 millimeter gun in my mouth,” Chely says in the interview. “I was taking inventory of my life and I realized I had pieces that I just couldn’t get to intersect. I was living a secret life and I was very much a country music celebrity, and I saw no way to get those to coexist.
“I gave up hope and I was ready to take my own life.”
That incident occurred after the singer claims to have hit rock bottom following a conversation with John Rich, half of the million-selling duo Big & Rich about the rumors circulating that she was a lesbian.
“John said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to hit this gay thing head on, you’re not gay are you? If you are, people won’t have it. It’s sick, it’s deviant; it’s unacceptable to country music fans.’
“I lied, and I knew I had gone from not talking about it to ‘Now I’m a liar.’ ”
But before the country singer pulled the trigger, she allowed herself to cry.
“That’s what broke the dam for me,” she says.
“I put the gun down and went upstairs. The next morning when I awaked, I was afraid to go downstairs because I was afraid of that gun. Rather than go downstairs, I got on my knees and spoke out loud to God and I stopped praying for what I always prayed for, which was help me figure out a way to still have my career.
“I changed my prayer, and my prayer was, ‘God, give me a moment’s peace.’ I got up off my knees and got my moment’s peace. I didn’t hear God’s voice, I didn’t see a guy in a robe, but I heard God say what he’d been whispering in my ears all along: ‘I expect one thing of you, and that is to tell the truth.’ ”
So, Chely began writing her story down and recording a new batch of songs for a new album that also releases today titled Lifted Off The Ground.