By: Shannon Ralph
A new documentary, “Wish Me Away”, detailing the personal and professional struggles of Chely Wright, received a standing ovation at Los Angeles’ Outfest film festival this past Friday. The film has won the Jury Documentary Prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival and at Frameline, the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival.
For more than a decade, Chely Wright was the perfect country music star. She was attractive and perky and sang songs about the joys and heartaches of romance, acquiring a legion of devoted country fans. What her fans did not know, however, was that Wright was a lesbian, a potentially career-destroying fact that she both tried to hide and pray away. That is, until May of 2010, when Wright came out publicly on the “Today Show”.
The film documents Wright’s drive since childhood to be a star in mainstream Nashville —a place that would probably never had accepted her had the industry insiders known she was a lesbian, her struggle with near-suicidal self-loathing, and her eventual decision to live her truth despite the potential to destroy her career.
In the end, Wright concluded that the vitriol hurled her way since coming out and the risks to her career were far outweighed by the knowledge that she might get through to kids and teenagers who may otherwise feel alone and end up the way she did, “sitting on the edge of my bed with a gun in my mouth.”
Wright is now living in New York and is getting married on Aug 20th to LGBT activist Lauren Blitzer. The verdict is still out on Wright’s career. Check out her latest album, the Rodney Crowell-produced “Lifted Off the Ground”, available in stores now.