Chely Wright, who this year became the first prominent C&W artist to openly declare her homosexuality, says public reaction to her decision by the Nashville establishment has been muted at best. A number of country performers “supported me immediately in private, but only two have come forward publicly: Mary Chapin Carpenter and SHeDAISY,” Wright said at a reception Saturday at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner, a big annual gay fundraiser where she was given the Media Award. “Nevertheless, I’m happy. It was a good decision for me.”
The 40-year-old Wright (pictured in photo by Jeanne Prejean) said she’d known she was a lesbian since she was 9. But she dated guys including C&W star Brad Paisley and scored a big hit called “Single White Female” (“Lookin’ for a Man Like You”) before coming out in May. She blamed Nashville’s reticence about her announcement on the record-label bosses–and she’s probably right. If so, though, you have to wonder whether the “suits” aren’t badly misreading the willingness of country fans to accept gay artists, especially those fans in their teens, 20s and 30s.