Catching Up With Chely Wright: Life After Coming Out

CG:  I actually write an article for this site occasionally about the gay life in Kansas City.  Because it's so strange to me that there isn't one.  There are so many gays and lesbians here, I know them, I've met them.  But we are quiet.  There is no vocalness here.  Even Pride was small and secluded from the city and we had no parade.  It's very internal, here.

CW: We need to change that.  Kansas City is such a great town.

CG:  It really is.

CW: It's an artistic and amazing town.  We need to have a presence there.  We need to unify.  So many of the gays there are young professionals, and people with affluence.  People with a voice.  Voters.  All we need to do is hold hands and stand up.  I know they are there, I know they are.

CG:  We have a lesbian in the state senate, and we're still so quiet!

CW: Really?

CG:  Yes.  Jolie Justus in the 10th district.  She's out and she's got her girlfriend or wife, not sure what terminology she prefers to use.


CW: Awesome.  Things are really starting tot heat up.  It's going to be exciting.  We're going to get it done.  And we're not going to put the LGBT in a sleazy part of town.

CG:  That would be great, because our bars are mostly scary.

CW: It's going to be a place of pride and a place were LGBT people will want to go.  And if a mom finds out that their child is gay or trans, they are going to feel safe to drop their kid off at the center.  It's going to be a good thing.  The Lighthouse is going to be just that, a place of light.

CG:  “Lifted off the Ground” is such a wonderful record.  I'm not a musicy person, but even I can feel the emotion behind the songs and appreciate the way they are timed together.  How have you felt at the response to it?


CW: As a person who has made records for a living for a very long time...  You always hear artists say “it's my best record yet” but I have absolutely no doubt that this is my seminal offering.  This is my best work.  Getting to work with Rodney Crowell was a dream come true.  I've been a fan of his since I lived back in Kansas.  I remember listening to "Diamonds and Dirt" on 61 Country and KFKF when I was a kid.  He really knows what to do with a songwriter and her song.  My intellect was so abandoned and suspended when I wrote these songs, when I made this record.  There is something to be said for loosing your mind.  You get your intellect out of the way.  I think my brain kept me from doing my best work.  I over thought stuff.  You know what they say about all the great artists, and painters, and sculptors - they were all half crazy anyway.  They were cutting their ears off and stuff.  I think this was my crazy moment.  I think it manifested itself in perhaps some of my best work.  I hope so.

CG:  I think it's an amazing album.  And I've listened to all your records and been a big fan for many many years, and I'd agree.  This is a very personal feeling album to me; I feel like I get to know you a little more and understand where you are.  I can definitely relate to many of the songs.  Not just because I'm gay and I've been exactly in that place, but I think everybody's been in that kind of place where there is something they want to be or do but they are not being authentic with whatever that is.

CW: Right.  Hiding is hiding.  I recently spoke at a thing called Diversity Inc. in D.C. and you've hit the nail on the head.  It's not about hiding that you're gay.  The Diversity Inc. group that I was talking to are leaders of Fortune 500 companies and by and large straight people.  When I have the chance like that to talk to these leaders about diversity in their companies, it's hard sometimes to break down that barrier because the whole time I'm speaking, in their heads, they are thinking, “she's gay, I'm not, she's gay, I'm not.”  I encouraged them to forget that I'm gay.  Don't spend the whole time I'm talking thinking about how I'm gay but you aren't.  Think about your secret.  Think about something you've hidden in your life.  Because everyone has a secret.  Now imagine that that one secret would take you down.  It might make you lose your job, might get you excommunicated from your church, might make your parent's kick you out of the house.  Just imagine that that one secret could take you down.  I told them to start from there, and it opens the whole room up.  That's what it's about.  It's about hiding.  It's a cancer.  That's the universal point.  Nobody should have to hide.

The mind-blowing thing is that people where we're from, in the Midwest, really think that we can pray that away. (continued on next page)



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  1. Avatar of tkzoo

    Great interview by both parties! I am disheartened to learn that her album sales have dropped so much. I imagine some of that is just due to normal flucuations in the music market, but still, it pains me to think that some of her fans would not support her work because she is gay. I’m glad to know that she is tenacious and will keep on doing what she loves to do. I hope to see her perform one day soon, and I for one, will support her in all her endeavors.

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