Wish Me Away is a personal invitation into the upcoming days of country music’s first openly gay singer’s announcement to the world that she’s a lesbian. In May 2010, Chely Wright announced to the world that she is gay on the Today Show and in her memoir, Like Me. Coming out isn’t easy for anyone. For Chely, coming out as gay was an especially difficult process because she had everything to lose as a country music star.
Chely’s documentary gives us a glimpse of her small town days of growing up in Wellsville, Kansas, where, at the young age of five, Chely knew she was different. She used to “pray the gay away” and turned to country music to distract her from the “sin” of being attracted to other women. After performing at the Grand Ole Opry, she signed a record deal and moved to Nashville. She came to fame in 1997 with her hit single “Shut Up and Drive.” Her celebrity status grew from then on, making it harder to tell people that she’s a lesbian. That was until 2010, when she couldn’t hide who she was any longer. She knew that by coming out she was being true to herself and, also, helping others who were just like her that didn’t have someone to look up to.
The film captures the vulnerability and strength of Chely months, weeks, and days prior to the big announcement. We sit in on her conversation with her spiritual advisor who listens to Chely and reassures her that coming out is the right thing to do. She hires a publicist who prepares her for any wrongful questions she might be asked and the twists of words an interviewer might throw her way. Her family and friends are accepting and give her the encouragement she needs during this time of her life. The best part of the film is the personal video diary clips of Chely expressing her thoughts and feelings leading up to the day when she goes on national television to let everyone know who she really is. The raw footage sets the celebrity aside and leaves us with a human being yearning to be true to herself, to no longer live a lie.
You’ll laugh and cry with Chely as she explains how she kept her sexuality a secret for years by dodging relationship questions, engrossing herself in her music, and even dating a man to stop people from thinking she was gay. Viewers will realize that, although Chely is a celebrity, she’s exactly like you, me, and every other LGBTQ person in the world who was, and is, afraid to come out to their family and friends. Wish Me Away is Chely Wright’s coming out story. It’s a story that most of us can relate to and one, in which, everyone will enjoy.
Reeling Documentary Centerpiece
Date: November, 5, 2011
Location: Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema
2828 North Clark St.
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Growing up Erica knew she’d be one of two things: 1. A lesbian 2. A writer. Lucky for her, she turned out to be both! After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Creative Writing, she moved back to the Midwest. In Chicago she found a community, a home, and her wonderful wife. Besides writing for The L Stop, Erica spends her time script writing. She hopes to, one day, write and produce good quality films and plays. If you ever see Erica around, feel free to say hi. She loves meeting new faces.