Chely Wright is a country music singer who recently came out as being gay and is the first one to do so from that music sector. This documentary tells of the days leading up to the public announcement. It is an interesting crossing of four components. One, she’s a famous musician with the all the elements of celebrity. She often says she is using her fame to help some fourteen year old girl who has the same identity issues she had. If she can help just one person from feeling the same alienation and self-loathing she suffered, then all the backlash she will take will be worth it.
Two, there’s the very enclosed conservative and often homophobic country music industry and community. Anything that goes against that conservative grain is often attacked. The example used is how The Dixie Chicks were protested by country music fans when they made remarks against George W. Bush around the time the Iraq war began. Chely knows what is waiting for her, what damage may be done to her career, and this makes the days leading up all the more stressful.
Three, Wright is a conservative Christian coping with how being a lesbian supposedly goes against the Bible while wanting to be a good Christian. She talks to her minister about how she had been praying since she was about thirteen for God to not make her gay. There was even a specific prayer she said for years. The conflict tore her up inside. She even contemplated suicide with a gun in her mouth. She desperately wanted to be good and not go to Hell but wound up being repressively alienated instead.
Lastly, there is Chely as her own sweet self. She is charming and open-hearted and makes a charismatic center for this documentary. The book and record that constitute her Coming Out are completely sincere. Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf direct competently, but take too long getting to the Coming Out. There’s a fine line between creating suspense and creating impatience. My foot was tapping for probably a good fifteen minutes.
The crossing of these four components make this documentary interesting to more than just country music fans. There’s a rich amount of cultural layers that go beyond Nashville. Personally, I am not a fan of country music but found this story compelling.