Country singer Chely Wright has lived in the public eye for years with her music career, but privately, she felt like she was "hiding." Until recently she kept her sexual origin a secret before bravely coming out on "The Today Show."
"I feel like my life was in black and white before coming out and now with the help of the LGBT community, my life is now in color," she told an assembly of students at a school safety summit.
On behalf of The Gay Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, she led a focus group to tell adolescents about her journey to publicly acknowledging her sexuality. "I'm in awe of these young people and that at such young ages they have the great sense of self to stand up and they understand who they are and they're willing to fight for it. It's also a great testament to GLSEN and the great work that they've done," she told ET.
"I knew that when I was four years old that I was different and I knew by the time I was in third grade that that difference was that I'm gay," she remembered of her childhood. The small-town girl was scared to come out for 39 years because she thought it would jeopardize her acceptance in the country music world, her faith, community, and family.
Overall, she is happy with the fan's reception of her announcement. Garnering the support of Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, and Oprah Winfrey, Chely said with gratitude, "Hollywood has been incredible to me." Rocker Melissa Etheridge also helped pave the way. "My coming out was made a bit easier by her coming out well over a decade ago," Chely said.
Chely's tale is chronicled in her memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.