Coming out is a private process for many of us, but if you’re a celebrity and you make that choice there’s always the likelihood of receiving unwanted scrutiny, criticism and just overall attention at a very personal time. How can that be controlled? Country singer Chely Wright came up with a unique solution: she made a documentary of her personal and professional journey when she came out in May 2010.
“Wish Me Away”, the film produced and directed by Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, has been sweeping the film festival circuit, having won the Grand Jury Prizes for Best Documentary at both the Los Angeles Film and Frameline 35 Festivals last month. Next up is the showing at the Outfest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on July 15th and NewFest in New York City on July 22nd.
I recently chatted with the very open, frank and lovely Wright via phone recently to talk about “Wish Me Away,” why she doesn’t think everyone should come out as well as how coming out of the closet affected both her career and her life.
Jim Halterman: Let’s talk first about “Out In America” (the PBS documentary aired last month featuring Wright), where you recounted your coming out story. We all love hearing each other’s coming out stories but why do you think it’s important to keep telling and hearing the stories?
Chely Wright: I think it’s important because we have to identify. I think in this day and age a lot of people think that people don’t care if you’re gay but people do. I grew up in Kansas and there are still young people there and older people, too, who feel like they won’t be accepted to be who they are and anyone who feels safe and able with a public voice, I think should do it. I don’t encourage everyone to come out. If you’re working at Target in Alabama and you feel like you might lose your job, by all means don’t come out. And then for those of us who have a public capital to step out and…CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE