Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chely Wright: Banned From The Opry Because She's Gay?

To be clear, I am not a big fan of Country Music; there’s some I like, but I’d bet that die-hard country fans would say my likes aren’t “real” country; that’s okay, there’s plenty of other kinds of music to go around.

But, one issue I have with Country Music, as an industry, is that it isn’t so accepting of the LGBT community, or LGBT artists and singers. Sure, there are pockets of acceptance; Carrie Underwood is for marriage equality, and Blake Shelton recently told the Westboro Baptist Church that they could, ahem, “blow” him for their anti-LGBT stance. So there is promise, but it seems like it’s a long way off, and it seems like country singers are staying closeted out of fear of reprisal; and there definitely are reprisals.

Like this one:

In the late 90's, after years of singing in Nashville, singer Chely Wright had her first Number One country hit, "Single White Female".  She followed that up with three other top 10 hits and sold over a million units in the United States. She made her first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on September 16th, 1989 and made many subsequent appearances, especially after having that Number One.

But, in 2010, Chely Wright came out as a lesbian and since then the Country Music Industry hasn't invited her to perform at any events; she has not made one single appearance at the Opry, even though she was considered a regular, pre-2010.

She has released three more albums, appeared in a film about coming out in Country Music, and wrote a book about her life, and yet she is not invited to appear on the Opry stage any more. In the past, Wright has spoken at length about how her 'coming out' affected her career as a country singer, but says she doesn't dwell on the negatives:
"I don't wallow around in any lack of public support by my industry. The headlines that get picked up and the sound bites suggest that I'm devastated, but I'm not really that hurt by it...I'd love to see some real public support for the LGBT community from my industry."
Wright says she's received some private support from industry people in Nashville, but there's a long way to go:
"I do think that there are homophobic people in the industry - some of them in power. I feel that the greatest setback that plagues the country music industry is their collective fear of the consumer's expected homophobia. I call this fearphobia. The industry is afraid of the record buying public's fear of gays and lesbians. They're afraid of fear. And that fear is enough to cause silence. And it's deafening, if you ask me."
And now her fans, both straight and gay, are hoping to change that with an online petition asking the Grand Ole Opry to invite her back.

Like I said, I’m not much of a country fan, but I am a fan of the LGBT community, and I’m not much of a fan of homophobia. It seems clear that the minute Chely uttered the words “I’m gay” she became persona non grata in country music and it’s about time that changed.

Not every person in the country, who lives in the country, or listens to country music is a homophobe; I think people just want good music, and it shouldn’t matter whether the person singing is gay or straight.

They should just be good.

Go HERE to sign the petition asking the Opry to have Chely Wright back on their stage. Even if you don’t like country music. 


the dogs' mother said...

fearphobia - good word :-)

SEAN (The Jeep Guy) said...

I signed. And will repost this. Combined our readers should get her a few thousand votes.

Huntress said...

I love me some country music, but only stuff I listened to about a decade ago or more. Signed!

anne marie in philly said...

signed! this is why kenny chesney refuses to come out. homophobia blows goats.

Ron said...


Your intuition is correct, the lady is now persona non grata because she had the temerity to declare herself gay. The South and the Country and Western crowd are very homophobic. They will be the last to sign on to reality.


mistress maddie said...

It does seem country music is so far behind the rest of the types of music. I keep waiting for Keith urban to show up at my door.

Bob Slatten said...

Urban's mine!!!

Billy Bob said...

Brandy Clark has performed on the Grand Ole Opry twice in recent years, and she's openly gay.

We shouldn't be so quick to assume that there's a conspiracy going on here.