We told you last week that, despite rampant speculation, the “major music star” coming out of the closet today was NOT Queen Latifah, who for some reason was widely guessed as the person coming out. (We don't know for sure if she's indeed in any kind of closet about anything.)
We knew last week who the person was and we gave as a clue that the celebrity had 2 things in common with someone from a funny list we published. That list included Shania Twain, who is 1) a very feminine, traditionally pretty lady and 2) a country-pop singer.
So today we can finally reveal that the person coming out of the closet (under the guidance of Los Angeles outing PR expert Howard Bragman) is … Chely Wright.
Mainstream country and country-pop aficionados know her as one of the many Nashville music starlets who had some hits in the last few years and appeared on magazine covers. Other music fans? Well, not so much.
Word on the street is that the usually careful Bragman (not long ago the subject of a cover story on the LA Weekly) never said it was “a major superstar” who was coming out and someone else misinterpreted his original feelers to the press.
News reporter Patrick Range McDonald has an interview with Chely Wright for the Queer Town column of our Daily LA blog. It's really important to remember that behind all the PR blind-item games and the album and book promotion there's a real human being who struggled with acceptance within a segment of the industry that is perceived as less-than-open to different sexual orientations.
(In unrelated news, it was announced today that Queen Latifah (and Carly Simon) will be joining this year's Lilith Tour.)
An excerpt from McDondald's interview (which is worth reading in full for an insight on “the Nashville machine”):
“I feel really good,” she said, after thinking about it for a moment. “I also feel waves of anxiety. I feel like my birthday is happening on Wednesday.”
Those waves of anxiety, Wright explained, come from a belief that her country music career may be over once she utters the words “I am a lesbian” on national television.
“There's a reason no one in country music has revealed his or her homosexuality,” Wright said. “Fans want their country music stars to be a certain way. They want 'God, country, and family,' even though being gay fits into that.”
It was especially the “God element,” said Wright, that kept her and probably many others in the closet, believing that a vast majority of God-fearing, country music fans would never buy an album by someone who is openly gay, and that record company executives would never test that belief in the first place.
“Nobody whose face is on the side of a (tour) bus is allowed to be out,” said Wright.