One of our favorite North American cities, Denver—set to host the 2015 OutGames and, even sooner, the USA’s one-and-only exhibition of the Yves Saint-Laurent retrospective at the Denver Museum of Art this coming March—welcomed out country star Chely Wright this past weekend.
The Starz Denver Film Festival, which runs until November 13 and features an entire “Cinema Q” section devoted to LGBT-themed films, screened Wish Me Away, directors Bobbi Birleffi and Beverly Kopf’s emotionally stirring, revealing documentary about the intense and intensive lead-up to Wright’s much ballyhooed public coming out in May 2010, which included consultations with spiritual advisors, family, feminist publisher, and a publicist (her preparation for media interviews was as extensive and probing as that for courtroom cross-examination!). Fans and the unfamiliar come away with a deep sympathy and respect for Wright—and disgust toward the Nashville music scene’s institutionalized homophobia: it’s like an ultra-religious Hollywood, where many behind-the-scenes folk are gay (and boast ridiculous-looking “Just For Men” dyed facial hair) yet super closeted and perpetuate the Bible Belt’s bigoted mentality.
Screened at the Highlands Church—appropriate given the dominance religion and God has played in Wright’s own journey, both good and bad—the audience frequently applauded and broke into tears during the film.
Find out what Wright had to say after the jump…Afterward, Wright, Birleffi, and Kopf took to stage for a Q&A session. Wright said she sought out the pair of filmmakers, whom collaborate as production company TVGals, to chronicle her three-year-long coming out process after seeing their Logo series Be Real. Their biggest concern during the period was they might accidentally “out” Wright too early by telling people their actual reason for following her with cameras. They were also taken aback at just how treacherously homophobic Nashville’s music scene actually was.
The directors revealed that every A-list country star refused to appear onscreen and support Wright after she came out: indeed, she has yet to be invited to perform in any official Nashville music event, which she likened to being a pro sports player shut out from any national league or team.
One of the session’s most pointed answers addressed the reasoning behind Wright’s complex, extended process of coming out. “In a world where people are gonna be strategic about hate, I’m gonna be strategic about truth,” she noted. “We have to be strategic, thoughtful.”