A brand new Technicolor life

Country singer Chely Wright, announced this week as BTD’s 2010 Media Award winner, says coming out freed her

RELATED STORY: Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin named keynote speaker

Rich Lopez  |  Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Chely Wright
Chely Wright

“Dallas has been a great market for me,” says Chely Wright.

Truer words might have never been spoken.

The country music star spoke highly of the city when referring to her past concerts here, but she’ll be heading to Dallas this year for a different reason — one that will reinforce her confidence in this city.

Officials with the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that Wright has been chosen to receive the 2010 Media Award during the annual fundraising gala set for Nov. 6.

They also announced that U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the openly lesbian Democrat from Wisconsin, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner.

When Wright came out of the closet in May with her biography, “Like Me,”  the media storm hit full force. She was touted as the first modern country singer to come out of thecloset, and her life story landed her on the cover of People magazine and Oprah.

As the recipient of the Black Tie Media Award, Wright sees it as a step in her reasoning to come out.

“This is noteworthy to be receiving this incredible honor,” she said. “I find it really interesting that this one thing I tried so hard to hide has really set me free. I’ve not only found this gay community but also activist, advocate and civil-minded communities. These are incredible people to be applauded.”

But not only was she setting herself free by coming out, Wright knew that since she was such a public figure, her coming out would facilitate dialogue and education.

Her announcement eclipsed her current album, “Lifted Off the Ground,” and even her career for the past 15 years. But she said she was prepared for that, because it was bigger than just a CD.

“The specific reason I did this in such a grand, comprehensive way was because I was aware this would be discussed,” she said. “As celebrities, we must be aware of our public capital in the community, and there had never been a commercial country artist who acknowledged being gay.

“That’s why I wrote a book, knowing that it was incumbent upon me to do so,” she said.

Along with all that attention came the backlash from both her audiences and the country music industry — no surprise considering it comprises a largely conservative demographic.

Wright said she knew there would be a negative reaction that could possibly put her into “Dixie Chicks vs. Texas” territory. But, she said, the good has outweighed the bad so far.

“I’m aware there are negative comments. No matter what you do, people will hate. On my social networks, we don’t leave them out unless they are overly caustic. We allow that dialogue to happen.

“But I think some of my fans never knew a gay person and thought they were all deviants,” she added. “They see this isn’t the case. Those people are the moveable middle.”

Wright mentions she even received support locally, saying KSCS on-air personality Chris Huff reached out to her after she came out.

To her, that was a step many people in the country music industry are either reluctant to take, or maybe do so quietly.

“Just judging from everything she said and her experiences and the emotions she fought, I think it was a really strong thing that she did,” Huff said. “I can’t imagine what she must’ve gone through the years leading up to that.”

Huff did what, according to Wright, not many have done in her industry. People have reached out to her, but only privately. She said public declarations of support by those in country music are hard to come by.

“Huff was one of the first to e-mail me after coming out.  The industry has a lot of really progressive people, but there are a lot of folks who just reach out privately. All of country music is not homophobic, but people don’t feel like that they can say ‘I’m behind you.’”

So instead, Wright is focusing on the positive support, which she has received from other LGBT celebrities, like Rosie O’Donnell and Lance Bass, and from the fans still coming to get her autograph. She’s even relishing the Prop 8 decision from her West Hollywood home.

But ultimately, she says, she feels simply free.

“Imagine a tiny secret being a big one and have it chasing you around, and you’re afraid. Then, it’s gone. It feels like I’ve retired an 80-hour-a-week job at a factory. There is so much emotional free space.

“I think my life felt like black and white before and now it’s in Technicolor.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

New report on challenges faced by LGBT senior citizens

Rich Lopez forwarded this information to me, because when it’s about old people, he thinks of me. Thanks Rich.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Center for American Progress Action Fund and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will discuss new legislation and a new report, “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults” at a meeting on April 28 at noon in Washington.

The report addresses the unique challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders in the United States. The study was done by Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) and the Movement Advancement Project (MAP).

Congresswoman Baldwin will also discuss legislation to help address these disparities, while experts in the field will share the latest research and policy analysis.

Aging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender baby boomers are the first generation of LGBT people who have openly lived LGBT lives in large numbers.

While most Americans face challenges as they age, LGBT elders have the added burden of a lifetime of stigma; familial relationships that lack recognition under the law; and unequal treatment under laws, programs, and services designed to support and protect older Americans.

The lack of financial security, good health and health care, and social and community support is a fearful reality for a disproportionate number of LGBT older adults.дорогое продвижение сайта

—  David Taffet

Baldwin takes lead in Uganda anti-gay genocide

Rep. Tammy Baldwin
Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s office sent a press release that said she and Reps. Jared Polis and Barney Frank, along with 90 other members of Congress, sent letters to President Obama and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. They are voicing their opposition to the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill.

“The pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda is an appalling violation of human rights and it behooves us, as Americans and Members of Congress, to do all we can to prevent its passage. We fervently hope that President Obama will use the full force of his office to oppose this hateful and life-threatening legislation in Uganda and send a clear message to other countries that such discrimination must not be tolerated.  And, we hope that Ugandan President Museveni recognizes that this legislation is morally untenable and politically harmful to his nation,” said Baldwin.

“This is nothing more than the institutionalization of hatred and bigotry and it must be stopped,” said Polis.

In the letter to Museveni, they point out that Uganda “even seeks to establish extra-territorial jurisdiction,” to extradite gays and lesbians living abroad.

They note that similar legislation is under consideration now in Rwanda and they urge Obama to take all necessary steps to stop it including cutting any bilateral assistance, as Sweden has threatened to do should the bill pass.

The letters sent:

—  David Taffet

Texas congressman: Hate crimes act holds soldiers hostage to attack on American morals

Yesterday I made mention of that new LGBT group in East Texas, the Tyler Area Gays. So how fitting it is that today we have some overwhelming evidence that the TAG Project is critically needed. Here’s video of Republican U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert, who represents Tyler and Longview, arguing on the House floor yesterday against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which is currently attached to a defense spending bill. Among other things, Gohmert states that including the Shepard Act in the defense bill is “holding soldiers hostage to this sociological attack on what used to be the morals of America.” A majority in the House disagreed with Gohmert, voting against removing the Shepard Act from the bill last night. You can watch responses to Gohmert by openly gay Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin by going here.создание туристических порталов

—  John Wright