Chely Wright continued her coming out publicity tour with a stop at NBC's Today show Tuesday. While there to discuss her decision to announce her homosexuality, Chely also recalled a discussion she had with John Rich on the topic. Back in 2005, Chely says John confronted her about the rumors going around Nashville that she was a lesbian and called homosexuality "sick," "deviant" and "unacceptable to country music fans." Chely says she lied to John saying she wasn't gay, to which he responded, "Good, thank God."
Chely says she hit rock bottom a few months later and even considered suicide. "I had a nine millimeter gun in my mouth," says Chely. "I was living a secret life and I was very much a country music celebrity, and I saw no way to get those to coexist." Chely put the gun down and decided to seek to live more honestly. That decision led her to write her book, Like Me, in stores this week.
However, John Rich is denying the conversation with Chely went down as she describes. After Chely also appeared on Access Hollywood Tuesday telling the same story, John responded to Access Hollywood with a statement. He says his relieved response to Chely telling him she wasn't gay stemmed from his hope of someday asking her out. "For years after that conversation, Chely invited me to perform at charity events," says John. "In all that time, I wish she would have said something directly to me before the book's publicity tour." John also claims the quotes attributed to him in Chely's book aren't completely accurate.
In response to Wright's comments about Rich on NBC's Today show earlier this week, Access Hollywood has posted the following statement from John on their website: "I would never pass judgment on any friend of mine. I feel awful that, at this time in Chely's life, my decade old comment - 'Good, thank God' - was taken the wrong way. I was clumsily trying to express my relief that even a country boy like me had a one-in-a-million chance of having a beer with a woman as talented and attractive as Chely. For years after that conversation, Chely invited me to perform at charity events. In all that time, I wish she would have said something directly to me before the book's publicity tour, especially since some of the comments attributed to me in the book are not mine. But I am happy for her and only wish her the best in her personal and professional life."
Meanwhile, in an interview with EW.com, Chely said, "I think he sees what it feels like to take on the gays, and he didn't like it. And I think he may not want to take this on. So he may say, 'Um, I love Chely. I can love the sinner, hate the sin.' He may say that. I don't have to believe it."
I applaud Chely, good for her! I do think Country fans aren't given enough credit for understanding though and that makes me sad. Sure, there will be some ignorant fans that speak out against Chel, but I think the majority are like me, understanding and supportive. As for John and Chely not remembering the conversation the same way...it is he said/she said and we were not privy to what was said but I truly do hope it was a misunderstanding. God bless you Chely!