Most of you have probably never heard of Chely Wright, or probably have heard her name in the media only in the past few weeks, since she outed herself. I hadn’t heard of her either and when I read somewhere that she had outed herself, my reaction was: ‘Meh. Good for her.’
I don’t know what that says about me. That I’m so used to being gay, that when I hear of other outings, it’s worth a thumbs up combined with a shrug and nothing else? That I thought her outing didn’t directly or indirectly affect me because she’s not a gaysi & therefore has a different experience? I was wrong on both counts. This morning I was forwarded a link to Chely Wright’s interview with Oprah and I watched her talk about living as a closeted gay person, living a secret so well guarded that not even her best friend knew that she was a lesbian and that she was in a relationship with another woman. A pretense that was so important for her to keep up that when her relationship ended and she was heartbroken, there was nobody she could turn to for support – because nobody knew and she couldn’t tell them. The only way she thought she could be free of the burden of this secret was to kill herself. Thankfully, she chose the harder path & broke free of the lying and the deceit.
As I watched, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and felt my heart break and recognised each emotion she went through. I recognised the desperation of realising you’re gay and not knowing how you’re ever going to live a ‘normal’ life. I recognised the need to lie, to detach yourself from the people you love & care about, because it’s easier to not talk to them than to tell them that you’re gay. It’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve started to get back in touch with my cousins & some friends that I just cut off ties with when I got into this relationship with my partner of 4 years. I still haven’t come out to a lot of them, but I know I’ll be able to when I meet them in person.
But the part that was hardest to watch and most emotional was the part where she talked about coming out to her father & his response. I hope every parent watches this and sees what it is to have unconditional love for their child.
I am so glad I watched this. Chely Wright is beautiful & strong & inspiring. Spare a few minutes to watch these clips but be sure to have a box of tissues near you.