During Chely Wright‘s Oprah interview today, I’m not sure who cried harder: Oprah, Chely, her dad, or me. Five minutes into their half-hour chat, I was tearing up, and by the time Chely’s dad said he wants to tell every parent of a gay child “Do not close the door, but open your heart!” I was a blubbering mess.
You’d think after a while I’d get desensitized to these kind of things, but Chely Wright’s recent media blitz has been exceptionally moving.
Just like in her memoir and other interviews, Chely was refreshingly candid with Oprah, and I think that’s the reason her coming out has been so affecting. She’s not simply saying, “I’m here and I’m queer (and absolutely gorgeous).” She’s speaking openly about the isolation she felt growing up as a lesbian in the Midwest, and about the shame and fear that kept her in the closet, and the deep terror she felt about coming out.
It’s such an important dialogue, and it’s one in which gay celebrities are usually not willing to participate.
Oprah opened by asking Chely to talk about what led her to the place where she was staring down her reflection with a gun in her mouth.
One of the most interesting things Oprah asked Chely was whether or not she had “a language” for what made her different as a child.
While Chely and Oprah (and I) were near tears the whole time, the interview went irretrievably emotional when Oprah asked Chely about coming out to her dad. She said her dad called her one day and asked why they weren’t close; had he done something to make her angry or hurt her? She told Oprah that she’d been pushing him away because she couldn’t be honest with him, but she stayed up all night on her tour bus when she was getting ready to have a concert in his town because she’d decided to come out to him.
Chely’s dad was in the audience and he spoke up to finish the story: “I didn’t say anything. I just grabbed her and I put my arms around her and I told her it was all right.”
Chely’s dad went on to say:
Chely echoed his sentiment:
The thing that makes Chely Wright singular isn’t just that she’s openly gay in the country music culture, but that she seems to be delivering a message to everyone who is, or ever was, too terrified to come out: I’ve been there and I’m OK now. You are there and you’ll be OK too. We’ll be OK together.
And you know what? I believe her.
What did you think of Chely’s interview on Oprah today?