VIDEO: Country Singer Chely Wright Says She Nearly Committed Suicide Over Sexuality Secret

May 5 2010, Published 11:00 a.m. ET

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Country singer Chely Wright, just days after coming out of the closet at age 39, told The Today Show Wednesday that she nearly committed suicide over the anguish of keeping her sexuality a secret.

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"I had a 9mm gun in my mouth ... I gave up hope and I was ready to take my own life," she said, adding that she cried hysterically that night before falling asleep. The next morning, she said, she prayed for "a moment's peace" and heard God tell her that she needs "to tell the truth."

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Wright, who says she's the first openly gay country singer, told the Today Show that she kept her sexuality concealed because of the country music industry's conservative roots and fan base. She compared the philosophy of the business to that of the "don't ask, don't tell" approach embraced by the U.S. military.

The Wellsville, Kansas native said she had heard that rumors were circulating within the industry about her sexuality, which caused her to lie to her colleagues.


"That was they way I had to live my life, in the closet," she said.

Wright won the best new female vocalist honors from the Academy of Country Music in 1995; and nominations from the Academy for best female vocalist and best video (Single White Female) in 1999.

Her new book, Like Me, hits stores this week.

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