Chely Wright: ‘My Record Sales Went Directly in Half’ After Coming Out

Country singer Chely Wright tells Autostraddle in a lengthy interview that coming out has had its repercussions:

Chely-wright "There’s the gay community that now knows my name and it’s a long leap from the new demographic of people who will come to my Facebook page and hit the 'Like' button to them buying my record and coming to live shows. It’s a big stretch from those new fans to make up for the fans I lost. It didn’t help my career. My record sales went directly in half. If it appears from the outside in that it’s helped my career, it could be because I haven’t talked about the negative. You won’t hear me bitching and moaning on my Facebook about the hate mail I’ve gotten. My life has been threatened. I get nasty letters every day, 'I’m through with you Chely Wright, you’re going to hell.' There’s a big difference between press and advocacy and…. sometimes people forget that people who sing or make movies, this isn’t just a hobby for us. This is how I pay my bills. In coming out I had a feeling that it would diminish my wage earning, and that feeling was correct. And, I am fine with that."

Wright came out of the closet in a People cover story in May.


  1. Steve says

    You gotta love those country music fans – they love you as long as you’re white, straight and Christian.

    I’m sorry to hear this – but I’m grateful that she’s had the courage to stand up and be herself.

  2. says

    Directly in half, eh? Well, I may have purchased her new album had her coming out not been hyped as a ridiculous stunt to get her name in the press.

    Everyone was going on and on about “A major star is coming out of the closet, on such and such date.” And when they announced it was Chely, I found myself in the next minute on Google attempting to figure out who, exactly, Chely Wright is and why I should give any kind of notice to her.

    It was there I discovered she’s releasing a new album just weeks after her big “coming out.” Convenient, no? And I’m pretty positive that I am not the only gay patron contributing part of billions of dollars into the economy who didn’t like your big stunt.

  3. Erik says

    It’s a very biased look she is taking at the sales figures.

    Nobody knows what her sales figures would have been if she hadn’t come out. Perhaps they would have been the same. Perhaps they would have been worse if she hadn’t come out!

  4. says

    It sucks that she has received such negativism towards her coming out, and I’m sure it is a struggle for her daily given the environment and industry in which she performs. I truthfully did not even know the name Chely Wright had it not been for Towleroad, and her coming out doesn’t influence me to listen to her music as I don’t tend to like country music very much. However, I do have to sit up and pay attention to her last statement in the quote: “And, I’m fine with that.” That’s pretty awesome of her.

  5. Rami says

    Wow once again I can’t believe the nastiness in these comments! This girl was brave and I believe she’s been nothing but honest and real through all of this, album to promote be damned. If I remember correctly, she came out amidst the craziness of releasing a second album and the pressure she felt to silence who she was because of her initial success. For one to assume it was all just a stunt is so sad, and for one to suggest that coming out DOESN’T have an impact on one’s livelihood as an artist by pointing out EXCEPTIONS like Etheridge and John is just preposterous.

  6. says

    I have to agree with some of the other commenters-I don’t doubt she has had hate mail and that coming out has been hard. However, did she ever once think maybe her album just isn’t that great?

    I am actually someone who has all of her previous albums. I bought this one as well and I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else buy it. I find it ridiculous that she is blaming gay-hate on her album sales. Sure, maybe that’s part of it. And maybe you just need to make better music.

  7. Strepsi says

    I think she is being honest. The debbie downers here are ignoring the fact she’s said it’s WORTH IT. Did anyone promise that coming out is all rainbows and lollipops? No, and she’s mature enough to admit it and say she’s fine with that.

    I believe the cut-in-half figure. I believe she gets hate mail daily. One call to action from a religious org can do that. I did a project with one phrase that could be interpreted as anti-Christian (but was not really), and still get FORTY all-caps threatening emails daily. Organized U.S. Christians can be really hateful, vengeful people.

  8. Rowan says

    Steve, no one fancies Mellissa Etheridge or Elton John who no offence both look…erm like a lesbian and gay. Sorry but it’s about marketing.

    Cheryl was fancied. And she’s gay. Not hot for someone like that to not one a good ol man and get her pregnant whistle chained. Way of the world kids and if you’re naive to STILL not understand the concept of marketing, idols etc…what can one say.

    Goes back to that leading man thing…

    Jeni, why dont you write on Cheryls Facebook and tell her that yourself. In fact, write her a letter.

    ‘look, whateves you get death threats and that,I mean I don’t but who cares huh? You’re album was just sh*t dude and I know because, well I know everything. More then you who has seen every nook and cranny of this industry! Xoxo Jeni’

  9. Tyler says

    She’s appealing to a different audience than the people you guys are listing. There’s probably a reason she’s the only out mainstream country singer right now.

  10. justme says

    I applaud her actions and her attitude, but not her conclusions. There is no way she or anyone can prove her album sales have been hurt by her being honestly gay. To claim this is to say that if she wasn’t honestly gay then her album sales would have stayed the same or better. That’s ridiculous. No artist is entitled to success and no artist can predict or produce consistent success. There’s no way of knowing what’s affected her sales or what her sales may have been otherwise.

    By making this spurious claim, she’s only casting herself as a prettier, nicer, and likeable version of the dreaded Rupert Everett.

  11. TANK says

    lol! And nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’. Whadja’aspect, girl? Yeah, and some nascar fans have PhD’s…less than a fraction of a per cent, but hey, they’re kicking around.

  12. Gast says

    Well from Disco to Country there is quite a stretch, so I can’t say I understand her expectations. But sure I do understand her situation and hope that she see her coming out as a deed to herself.

  13. Kim says

    She is telling her truth coming out is often bad for your career especially in a conservative industry. It may be good for her personal life but not her career

  14. markm says

    Actually coming out did really damage Elton John’s sales numbers, and remember Elton only came out as bi originally. Elton ended up marrying a woman to increase his sales even though in reality he was gay not bi.

    That was years ago, but the sort of attitudes Elton was encountering back then still prevail among country western music fans.

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