Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

Rate this book
Chely Wright, singer, songwriter, country music star, writes in this moving, telling memoir about her life and her career; about growing up in America’s heartland, the youngest of three children; about barely remembering a time when she didn’t know she was different.
She writes about her parents, putting down roots in their twenties in the farming town of Wellsville, Kansas, Old Glory flying atop the poles on the town’s manicured lawns, and being raised to believe that hard work, honesty, and determination would take her far.
She writes of making up her mind at a young age to become a country music star, knowing then that her feelings and crushes on girls were “sinful” and hoping and praying that she would somehow be “fixed.” (“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay. I promise not to lie. I promise not to steal. I promise to always believe in you . . . Please take it away.”)
We see her, high school homecoming queen, heading out on her own at seventeen and landing a job as a featured vocalist on the Ozark Jubilee (the show that started Brenda Lee, Red Foley, and Porter Wagoner), being cast in Country Music U.S.A., doing four live shows a day, and—after only a few months in Nashville—her dream coming true, performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry . . .
She describes writing and singing her own songs for producers who’d discovered and recorded the likes of Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Toby Keith, who heard in her music something special and signed her to a record contract, releasing her first album and sending her out on the road on her first bus tour . . . She writes of sacrificing all for a shot at success that would come a couple of years later with her first hit single, “Shut Up And Drive” . . . her songs (from her fourth album, Single White Female) climbing the Billboard chart for twenty-nine weeks, hitting the #1 spot . . . 
She writes about the friends she made along the way—Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and others—writing songs, recording and touring together, some of the friendships developing into romantic attachments that did not end happily . . . Keeping the truth of who she was clutched deep inside, trying to ignore it in a world she longed to be a part of—and now was—a world in which country music stars had never been, could not be, openly gay . . .
She writes of the very real prospect of losing everything she’d worked so hard to create . . . doing her best to have a real life—her best not good enough . . .
And in the face of everything she did to keep herself afloat, she writes about how the vortex of success and hiding who she was took its toll: her life, a tangled mess she didn’t see coming, didn’t want to; and, finally, finding the guts to untangle herself from the image of the country music star she’d become, an image steeped in long-standing ideals and notions about who—and what—a country artist is, and what their fans expect them to be . . .
I am a songwriter,” she writes. “I am a singer of my songs—and I have a story to tell. As I’ve traveled this path that has delivered me to where I am today, my monument of thanks, paying honor to God, remains. I will do all I can with what I have been given . . .”
Like Me is fearless, inspiring, true.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Chely Wright

3 books30 followers
Chely Wright is an American country singer and gay rights activist.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
753 (38%)
4 stars
692 (35%)
3 stars
389 (19%)
2 stars
95 (4%)
1 star
26 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 178 reviews
Profile Image for Née.
139 reviews11 followers
August 21, 2011
I read this without knowing anything about Chely Wright, and it actually made me a permanent fan of hers. Such a unique and well written book about her struggles as a gay country music singer trying to make it big and fit into a world that doesn't know what to do with people that are different.

What I found most interesting is Chely's self-destructive behaviour throughout this time, where her struggle to balance her religious beliefs with her clear and defined homosexuality ultimately lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. It took her until she was nearly 40 to come out!

I think this is not only a brave account of being a gay country music star in the closet, but also a unique story of what it is like to grow up in the deep south as a gay woman in relatively modern times.

Her anecdotes about country music were of much less interest to me, but then I'm not a huge country music fan.

I'm glad Chely Wright finally had the courage to come and tell her story. She also recently married the love of her life, Lauren Blitzer. This is an important read for any young gay kid who thinks they're not good enough. It proves that you're not only good enough, you're worth everything.
Profile Image for Sarah Fonseca.
Author 9 books28 followers
September 1, 2010
I was a bit worried that this book would be 200-someodd pages of Chely Wright asserting her heteronormativity. Thankfully, I was proven wrong within the first few chapters. It quickly becomes evident that, by publishing her memoirs, she placed a lot on the line--and not just by simply disclosing her sexuality.

In Like Me, Chely also slaps various institutions and public figures on their bigoted wrists (John Rich of Big & Rich fame, Dick Cheney, The Boy Scouts of America, and so on...), all while maintaining that grounded sense of humility indicative of a true Southern girl. Her anecdotal stories about her modest childhood in Kansas make this an even more enjoyable read.

I really don't think I could ask for a better ally in the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights. Chely has a universal appeal which has the power to make a difference. She's already set the precedent by bridging the gap between the conservative South and the hearts of queer people everywhere.

I'd recommend this book to virtually anyone: The celebrity gossip fiend. A friend struggling with heartbreak. A country music aficionado. Someone gradually making his/her way out of the closet.

This also is the first book with lesbian content that I’d be eager and willing to let my own mother read--if that doesn't say something, I don't know what will. : )
Profile Image for Sassy Katt.
25 reviews21 followers
June 10, 2021
I really don't know how to put into words, eloquently, how this book changed me. I am a Christian. I was raised to believe that homosexuality was a sin AND a choice. After reading this book I don't necessarily believe that anymore. Chely Wright talks about her relationship with God. She talks about begging him to not let her be gay. She promised to do everything he wanted her to do if he would just take away the gay. As I read this book I felt her pain and her fear. I can't even tell you how many times I broke down and cried. I don't believe it's a choice anymore. I am so glad this woman was brave enough to come out and live her truth. Regardless if you think it's a sin or not, she is a human being and deserves to live her life and love whoever she wants without fear.
Profile Image for Danielle.
36 reviews9 followers
May 15, 2011
I'm not a big country music fan so I didn't know who Chely Wright was until I saw her on Oprah, but I was so moved by her story that I decided to read her book. This book should be required reading for all those who believe that being gay is a choice people make, or that those who are gay are morally bankrupt or without God in their life. Chely's story is heart wrenching, here is a woman who has a personal relationship with God and is so tormented by her homosexuality that as a child she starts a daily ritual of praying to God to please not make her gay. She lives her life hiding that fact that she is gay and struggles with what those around her say and feel about homosexuality. She pushes people away and pushes love away because she is so fearful of what people will think if she admits to the world that she is a lesbian. As a straight woman I can not imagine what living your life in fear every day feels like, and my heart goes out to all those who struggle with homosexuality and what the world will think of them. I hope that stories such as Chely's will educate those among us who fear what they do not know or understand. I am so glad I took the time to read this book and I highly recommend it to others as well.
Profile Image for Mo.
330 reviews46 followers
August 28, 2010
Normally, I am not a big fan of contemporary country music (surprise). But when I heard that Chely Wright had come out as a lesbian (on Oprah, no less), my jaw dropped. This book is simultaneously heartbreaking and infuriating. Although while reading it sometimes I kind of wanted to shake her and tell her to get a backbone (or kick the guy from Big & Rich's ass for her), it was a more than worthwhile read. I actually couldn't put it down. Sometimes when you live in a big city and surround yourself with like-minded people, you can forget the oppression and violence that gay people in conservative small communities face every day. Yeah, we've got Ellen on TV and more and more openly gay celebrities, but what about people in the middle of nowhere who don't know a single other gay person besides themselves? This reminded me that there's still homophobia and bigotry out there, to be grateful for the progress that the gay rights movement has made so far and to not give up the fight for equal rights for GLBT people.
Profile Image for Suzie Carr.
Author 20 books203 followers
March 3, 2011
I'm a huge fan of Chely Wright and I support her LikeMe Organization with monthly book proceed donations. I'm sure this book will touch many lives. She was honest and forthcoming in her story. Her story is an inspiration.
Profile Image for Agent Smith.
110 reviews8 followers
December 20, 2015
I never heard of Chely Wright until I saw her story on Entertainment Tonight. I was frustrated with parts of this story and near the end I lost interest completely. It was frustrating to read about the lengths she went thru to hide her sexuality when she refused to educate herself. One part in the book she talked about how she wouldn't be caught dead with any books or materials about homosexuality. How can you be scared to educate yourself?? I did not understand this and I felt no empathy for her situation. Sorry if that sounds mean or insensitive Ms. Wright. I also did not appreciate the analogy she made about Rosa Parks, that she should have stayed in the back of the bus-that was just a tad bit racist in my opinion and should not be compared to Chely Wright hiding her sexuality. Rosa Parks could not hide her skin color-sexuality is not something you wear on the outside (per say). I was more than a little offended at this comparison.

She also states that at the time of writing this book-she hasn't "come out of the closet." How can you advocate for young gay people-when you can't even advocate for yourself-she is still being dishonest about who she is. She says that she spends time thinking about what it will be like when she finally does step forward about her sexuality to help other people come to terms with their own sexuality. This statement made me dislike this book even more. How can you pretend to want to help young gay people when you have spent half your life denying, hiding, and lying about your true self? Sorry, but some of the words in this book really angered me.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
451 reviews68 followers
November 10, 2018
I am not a country music fan so I was not familiar with Chely Wright. However, her story touched my heart. My life and her's parallel in that she comes from 'Biblebelt' America; nothing about her says "Gay" and she fought being gay and prayed to God every day to take it from her. Me too! She also had family that ridicule gays at every opportunity. Me too! Under those circumstances it's hard to wave a flag and say "Hey everyone, guess what - I'm gay."

I eventually got away from "Church People" that said that I "would burn in hell for all eternity for being gay". I was born gay...I did not choose it for myself. God made me this way and would not remove it from me so why would He condemn me to hell? Once I came to this conclusion I was fine with being gay. In fact I much prefer it to being with any of the men I was with. Women are soft, excellent kissers and they smell good. :o}

Anyway, (*fist bump*) Chely Wright...I loved your book. Thanks for writing it.
Profile Image for Jess.
948 reviews61 followers
February 5, 2018
Before hearing about this book, I'd never heard of Chely Wright--or, at least, I didn't think I had heard of her. But I decided to look her up on YouTube, and then I realized that I'd heard her song "Single White Female" about a million times when I was a kid and would be in the car with my dad. He only likes country music sporadically, but when this song came out, he was having a country summer. It all came flooding back to me!

I can see how this book made quite a splash when it came out almost ten years ago. At that point, Wright really was the only out country star in the culture, and to this day, very few have followed. A lot of people also don't realize that this book was her coming out--she was only out to a handful of friends, her siblings, and most recently her father at the time of publication. She was not out to her mother, who she always had a tenuous relationship with, so I hope things went okay.

One of the moments that will stick with me for a long time is when country star John Rich of Big & Rich fame basically cornered Wright and goaded her into staying closeted, saying that the country community would never accept a gay artist. What a bully. Wright named those names in this book, which I commend her for. They deserve it. They deserve to be known as the people who are supposedly "good Christians" who bully and lie and urge others to do the same. It took a lot of bravery for Wright to do that, and I'll always look upon her in a positive light for it.

If you're looking for a book about a gay rebel who defiantly bucked the system...well, I wouldn't exactly call Wright an icon of queer rebellion, and that's okay! She's still a very conservative, religious person who is heavily involved in supporting the military (to a degree I don't quite align with, but a person's politics are their own I suppose). She considers herself a lady and doesn't engage in swearing or off-color humor in mixed company. She's also a consummate professional who treats everyone with respect, credits her career to hard work and a good support system, and will do what she can for her fans. This is a woman who we never seem to really get to know--she remains private and, even in writing, quite soft-spoken and cagey. It often came off as flaws in the writing--after all, this book has the subtitle of "confessions," but beyond her sexuality, there's nothing to confess. We never feel truly close to her, as if this book was written more as therapy than as a book meant for consumers.

Also, if you're triggered by parental abuse, here's a warning for that. I hope some of Wright's friends confronted her after reading this to let her know she lived through a heavily abusive childhood, most likely spurred on by her father's abuse towards her mother. The abuse in the household extended to shocking levels of violence and cruelty (mainly against her siblings), and I can't understand why Wright would have anything to do either parent anymore. It's quite unsettling. And I refuse to chalk it up to different cultures.

This isn't my favorite memoir I've ever read, but there was a lot of good stuff, and I hope Wright's life has been much easier since it was published. She's just a woman who wants to live her most authentic life.
Profile Image for Niki.
3 reviews
July 19, 2011
Whether you are a star in Nashville, or a waitress making ends meet in Anytown; straight, gay, or uncertain... you will understand Chely Wright's story as she has written it so eloquently that any person of any background can find a way to relate to her. This is not a book about being gay, being an entertainer, or coming out of the closet. This is a book about one person's struggle with all of life's complexities, and what she needed to do to be able to live her life to its fullest. She touches (in great detail) on many moments of her life that have clearly shaped her and made her the woman she is today. Chely has a gift in sharing herself and her experiences without preaching or judging, and leaves the reader with feelings of hope and inspiration, even while explaining some of her darkest moments. Though she has worked tirelessly to achieve success in her career, and therefore become famous, you'll find yourself reading along as though she's your dear friend, confiding in you her innermost struggles. And you'll be compelled to support her, as a person, regardless of your views and beliefs of homosexuality. She has this effect because her pages are genuine, sincere, and let you in to her heart and her human experience.
This book would be a helpful read to any person, as it shares the struggles of another, another point of view. But I would definitely recommend it to any person who feels strongly against homosexuality, especially because of religious beliefs. It would be unfair to stand your ground in your beliefs without educating yourself on the whole picture, and Chely Wright's story offers an intelligent view of how one's spirit can be broken by those who chose to stand against you, without ever understanding you.
Profile Image for Alo Evans.
22 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2018
As many other reviewers will no doubt have already said, this was a pretty good story which was not really written all that well. It was interesting and very simply written, which made it easy to geth through. However, there were so many instances which made me think that she really could have used the help of someone who has written memoirs before. There was a lack of continuity through the whole book. There was little order, chronological or otherwise. Oftentimes, chapters were 2 or 3 pages long and were situated between two seemingly irrelevant chapters.

Part of the reason that I might be so hard on this book is the fact that I was simultaneously reading ME by Ricky Martin, which (from at least a literary standpoint) was vastly superior. I actually had to focus only on this book to stop the comparison of style, but he'll get his own review. :)

Still, her words carried a lot of weight from their sheer honesty, which made the book deserving of the 3 stars. I believe this could have been a 5-star book, though, and that makes this disappointing. I am glad that she wrote it, I am glad that I read it and I am glad that she is out. I know that her words will serve as a source of support to the many people who have or are going through difficulties like this.

Profile Image for Spider the Doof Warrior.
433 reviews238 followers
November 27, 2016
So I first got introduced to Chely Wright's music when I was staying with a friend in Colorado with a song called Single White Female. I thought she was very cute. Turns out she is a lesbian country music musician which probably, judging by reading this book isn't easy.

She visits soldiers in war torn parts of the world and entertains them and signs stuff for them. She seems like a genuinely nice person. But there are people who would hate her ONLY for being a lesbian. How does that make sense?

I remember watching a show as a kid, 20/20, about lesbians who were collecting clothes and food and helping people but getting such hatred JUST because they were lesbians. People put dead cats in their mailboxes. I don't know if i knew what a lesbian even was, I just thought being so mean to such kind women, while the ministers preached hatred against them and probably weren't even trying to help the poor was so unjust.

Chely open and honestly talks about her being a lesbian and the guilt and pain she felt having to hide that from the world. Why should she even feel that? All she wanted was the love of another woman. Why is that so terrible? There are people who would turn against her just for wanting to be herself but I support her totally and not just because I'm queer myself.

But I thought her parents were sometimes very mean to her brother and sister. Beating up a child to toughen them up is mean and so is dragging the sister behind a car to get her to lose weight.

But really Chely Wright is the nice girl next door, as American as apple pie who is also a lesbian. Hopefully she is very happy with her life because she deserves it after all she went through.
Profile Image for Beth.
217 reviews11 followers
May 22, 2010
I've followed Chely's career in country music pretty much since the beginning. She's always been one of my favorites.

And now, reading this book, my admiration for her has only grown. She is truly an amazing human being.

It's hard to believe this is a first book...a memoir, one that touches on subjects as close to her heart, that speaks truly and openly of who she is...it's beautifully written.

Much love for this book and the woman who wrote it.
Profile Image for Holly.
244 reviews8 followers
October 31, 2014
She gets 4 stars for guts, honesty and likability. I wanted to know more details about her career but that wasn't really the point of the book. The documentary about her - "Wish me away" - is even better. She may have lost lots of fans because of this book but I'll bet she's gained a bunch too (me, anyway!).
Profile Image for Emily.
933 reviews103 followers
November 18, 2012
Chely Wright's Like Me suffers from some of the same problems as many memoirs - in fact, you could say these attributes are essential to the genre of confessional memoirs. There's quite a bit of name-dropping. There's also lots of jumping around chronologically, which can be confusing, though you could argue that the short chapters are actually intended to be thematically grouped vignettes, I suppose. There are the obligatory swipes at those who she felt deserved to be taken down a notch - like John Rich, Dick Cheney, and unnamed "radio guys" (radio programmers, program directors, and consultants who control whose music actually gets heard).

And then there's a straddling of the line between telling your own story and telling someone else's. For the most part, I thought Ms. Wright did fairly well sticking to her own story, her experiences, her perceptions, but there were a few times I thought she went a bit too far telling someone else's story and I felt uncomfortable for them. I wonder, for example, how Julia, the woman Ms. Wright describes as the "love of her life", feels about some of the incredibly intimate parts of their relationship being published for the whole world to read, especially considering that Ms. Wright's fame was a constant source of conflict in their relationship. And I cringed a time or two on Brad Paisley's behalf, as well. However, I recognize that it would be incredibly hard sometimes to find the balance between fully telling your own story without, to some extent, telling others' stories as well.

Ms. Wright conveys the sense of fear and falsity that pervaded her life in the closet, her desperation to hide her real self because of the personal and professional costs if her sexuality were to become common knowledge. She points to how it poisoned her relationships, not only with significant others, but with her family and friends as well. She describes several of these unhealthy relationships, acknowledging how self-destructive some of her actions were. I wondered, though, how much of that stemmed from the abuse she described from her childhood and the dysfunctional relationship her parents had, in addition to the stress of being closeted in a very conservative environment.

I was touched by her coming-out conversation with her father. It was emotional, awkward, loving, fearful, and the beginning of some serious healing for her and for their relationship. Her realization that "I wanted one million people to love, accept, and approve of me...anything short of pleasing every single one of them was unacceptable to me. I was afraid to let anyone down." was cathartic for her and instrumental in allowing her to move forward.

Like Me is bookended by two powerful thoughts. The first is from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." The last is near the end of the book and from Ms. Wright herself: "I hear the word 'tolerance'--that some people are trying to teach people to be tolerant of gays. I'm not satisfied with that word. I am gay, and I am not seeking to be 'tolerated.' One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated, and I don't think that other minority groups would feel comforted and equal to hear leaders of the general public self-righteously proclaim that 'we' should 'tolerate them.' That's not equality."

(And just a note about the title: I hate it. I'm pretty sure it was meant as a statement of "Yes, even someone 'like me' can be gay, so get over it already!" But in certain parts of the book it would have fit more if it was a pleading, "Please 'like me' anyway!" I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could, but I think the overall message of the book is important, even if the delivery sometimes lacked, so I'm rounding up.)

For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.
Profile Image for Andrea.
448 reviews17 followers
December 1, 2015
So I love autobiographies and memoirs, especially those that get down to the nitty gritty of one's thoughts and experiences. I heard about Chely Wright's book when I saw a clip of her on Oprah "coming out" to her and was intrigued. She dated and slept with fellow male country singers (particularly Brad Paisley who is quite attractive), so her story was quite intriguing to me. I am not a fan nor did I know much about her other than she was a country music singer and dated fellow male country music singers. Her story did not disappoint. From her early childhood, where she literally tries to pray away the gay and fails to her very vivid description on how she really played games with Brad Paisley's heart all because she was a lesbian and couldn't tell him were interesting to say the least(there is one part in particular I was just like OMG! I won't spoil it for those who will read it, but just wow). Her description of the love of her life and the loss of her because of her hiding was very moving. She seems even with coming out, a touch lost and unhappy and I hope she find true peace within herself. Coming out at what in her late 30's must have been HUGE. I cannot relate to this in any way, but I felt for her nonetheless, since she grew up in a rural small town, it must have been extremely difficult for her. And the abuse they showed her sister for being fat was truly horrifying---never heard of such abuse and I must say, her parents look atrocious now. Her mother's description with her new boyfriend hit a bit too close to home with the way she was towards her daughter.

I highly recommend this autobiography for those interested in someone who led a very secretive life for a very long time period or anyone who is intrigued like me or is a fan or is gay and afraid to reveal themselves. Her words were simplistic at times, but still moving nonetheless. This woman has been through some true pain and soul searching. The lesson I took was know yourself and don't be afraid to show the world who you truly are (easier said then done for her but nonetheless). I hope she helps others like she said she wanted to at the end.
Profile Image for Brenda.
8 reviews
January 8, 2013
I am not a fan of autobiographical material in the first place and this hasn't helped my opinion. I felt the book was choppy and self indulgent. I got the topic very clearly after the first chapter, so I don't understand why she's still whacking me over the head with it by using the word "gay" 5-6 times per page thereafter. I think that if one was really concerned about how much they "damaged" another person by the lies one told, we wouldn't then follow it up by naming them in a memoir and throwing them under the bus for book sales. She could have said she dated someone and left it at that...details of their sexual encounters weren't needed. Furthermore, I find the notion that she's been frozen out by the music industry since coming out laughable. "Would Disney still have me to do music for their movie if they knew I was a gay woman??" Really? Little Mermaid 2 was released (straight to video) in like 2008....there was a little Disney movie called THE LION KING released in 1994 with award winning music by Elton John......a very openly gay man. I think maybe the music industry is less than impressed with her throwing people who displease her under the literary bus and not so much concerned with whom she chooses to sleep. Used to be a fan, always wondered why she disappeared from the music scene, but she's far from the only one hit wonder out there.......
2,421 reviews47 followers
May 6, 2010
read this yesterday. reminded me some of Prayers For Bobby, but w/a much happier ending. there are, i guess, three big revalations in this book; 1 - Chely is gay, 2 - she and Brad Paisley had a relationship and 3 - john rich is a testoserone fueled twit.
Chely is gay and involved w/Brad Paisley which means Brad Paisley is a woman. sadly, no, but wouldn't that have been a cool headline?
john rich is a testosterone driven twit is a kinda given. male country music star in Nashville what would you expect him to be?
that this book is honest and respectful is pretty amazing. there are the painful scenes of her praying, relentlessly, that God wouldn't have her be gay and to take the feelings from her, bargining w/Him. blaming herself for every ill in a very ill family. that makes it all the more amazing she didn't drink from Paisley and Allison Krauss' "whisky lullaby."
the scenes w/her and God were of concern to me, that's where the comparison to Prayers for Bobby lies and like that book, she doesn't claim to be bigger than God.
so now i know a lot more about Chely Wright that she or i wanted me too, and it turns out i like and respect her a great deal.
now i've got to order an album...
Profile Image for Katie.
375 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2016
This is more of a hiding-out story than a coming-out story. Wright details her climb to Nashville success from her heartland roots in Kansas, and the secret that caused her pain and ultimately cost her the career she had so hard worked for. Her religious and cultural upbringing caused her to struggle with internalized homophobia for many years, and took a great toll on her and her relationships.
I could wish for a followup or epilogue to this story, because - as she had predicted - her life changed drastically after coming out as lesbian. It appears that although she lost a good deal of her previous financial and popular success, she has finally found a loving and supportive partner and was able to marry and start a family. That might be worth a lot more than gold records to her now.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sandy.
384 reviews10 followers
November 19, 2011
This was a pretty easy read and country singer Chely Wright's got a good story. I think she did a great job nailing what being in the closet makes a person do and the toll those choices take over time. It's not always chronological, which can sometimes throw you. It feels more like you're going through a box of photographs of her life, all thrown in together in no particular order, and she's telling you about each one as she pulls them out of the box. And that's not bad, just a little different. As someone who came out later (early 40s), I found a lot of it resonated with me even if the particulars (I'm not a country music singer) were different.
Profile Image for Devon.
93 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2012
I enjoyed the book and one of my favorite lines from it is this:

"I am gay, I am not seeking to be "tolerated." One tolerates a toothache, rush-hour traffic, an annoying neighbor with a cluttered yard. I am not a negative to be tolerated, and I don't think that other minority groups would feel comforted and equal to hear leaders of the general public self-righteously proclaim that "we" should "tolerate them." That's not equality."
What a powerful statement and one that I would hope everyone could get behind. As Rupaul likes to say...everybody say LOVE!

At times it was slightly sporadic, but I enjoyed her story and learning about her.
18 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2010
I respect and honor her honesty and courage to take a stand for herself. Beautiful!
Profile Image for Dana.
210 reviews15 followers
June 19, 2010
A lovely memoir from the first out lesbian country singer. Well-written and with a happy ending.
23 reviews
May 5, 2022
I have been a fan of Chely Wright's music since the first time I heard Shut Up and Drive on the radio many years ago. I remember hearing on the news that she came out as a lesbian and thought to myself that men's hearts all over the country were breaking with that revelation. However, I didn't know her story. I knew nothing of her family life growing up and after she became a success in country music. I didn't know what it was like for her to have to hide a part of herself while living a dream she had since she was a little girl. I didn't know it got so bad that she put a gun in her mouth planning to end it all...but I'm sure glad she didn't. I admire how she conducted herself when it came to the business of country music and the functions she was expected to attend. Was she perfect? Absolutely not and she didn't claim to be. I'm still a fan of her music, but after knowing her story, I'm a fan of who she is as a person.
Profile Image for Amy.
324 reviews
August 25, 2019
Recently, I watched the documentary, "Wish Me Away", which movingly displayed Chely Wright coming to terms with her decision to come out as the first openly gay major country music star (although k.d. lang did come out years before Wright. So really, arguably, Wright was one of the first rather than the first). It was fascinating, tender, and beautiful, as well as intriguing to watch her going through the process of writing her autobiography, which is this book I have just finished reading. I remember, back in the nineties, when her song 'Shut Up and Drive' was a big hit on the radio. Ever since then I've enjoyed Wright's music even though I would not consider myself a fan of country music, per se.
I found this book to be just as moving and beautiful as the documentary. But more importantly, both could be significant resources for the LGBTQ community. In Wright's own words: "I am standing up for myself, because if I don't, I will never be whole. That my story might help others find comfort, safety, and understanding is a beautiful by-product of truth" (Page264) .
Profile Image for Vickie.
63 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2010
Chely Wright's Like Me starts very promisingly, with a bang. Or, rather, the absence of a bang, as she confronts her darkest hour, gun in her mouth, and decides to put it down. From there, an outpouring begins, a flood of self-recriminations, guilty conciouses, hollow joys and a hand extended in solidarity to every person who has ever experienced a life like hers.

A memoir is a touchy thing for me. Normally I think they're boring and lame. The last two that I enjoyed, The Natural Laws of Good Luck and Fun Home were actually written more about other people in the authors' life: Graf's Chinese husband and Bechdel's closeted father, respectively. Unhitching the pressure of being the subject allows for more honesty, I think, and Bechdel's graphic novel particularly well represented the memoir as an exploration/love letter of your origins.

I like to journal, and I often fall victim to the "Today I ate eggs for breakfast" subject that's about as interesting as a blade of grass amongst a yard of them. I respect a good navel-gazing, then, for the sheer effort it takes to not talk about yourself and the boring things. Phoebe Damrosch wrote a blog that eventally became a book, and while talking about food was the high point, she spoke too much about a subject that was boring: her non-drama-filled Life. Actually, considering she was having an illicit affair with a coworker behind another cowoker's back, you would think there would be some fur flying! Unfortunately, to the detriment of the book, no such drama occurs.

Wright, on the other hand, is quick to point the finger at herself. She has been doing so since she was a little girl, literally praying every night for God to take the gay away. After going through her childhood, which was actually a fairly entertaining and heartwarming romp througb the Heartland, we land in post-puberty-ville and the line of broekn relationships begin. After a while, the book starts to sound like a "My Name is Earl" styled list of wronged men and women. Wright began this book as a catharsis, as an outlet for the guilt and pressure that lead to that one horrible night when she almost ended her life. She could as easily be reading this book to a pastor in a confessional as to a friend, parent, or God himself.

Frankly, I liked this matter-of-fact tone, as if she were really talking to you. Her personable, respectful manner permeates every sentence, making every page seem to have come directly from her mouth to your ears. All in all, it makes her seem pretty down to Earth and normal.

And this ability, this tone, is what makes this book work. She isn't crazy with mood swings, dripping syrupy lines and unnecessary embellishes all over the place. She's normal. She isn't sprinkling lots of gay language and culture references, because she's "normal". She doesn't go tapping her foot in random public restrooms for sex; she meets people normally, falls in love with people she gets to know normally, and has horrible break-ups like any normal person would. And that's what I love the most about this book. This book is for those kids out there like her, who wish the gay away, because you are just like everybody else in every other way. You can have the talent, and escape your small hometown, and find success and travel the world, but the gay goes with you. But remind yourself, there are people just "Like Me".

There was one area, though, where I felt that Wright broke the fourth wall a bit more than necessary, and it was in reference to her intimate relations with fellow country star Brad Paisley.  Her comments seemed to have a certain pointedness to them--not directed at him, but at the industry and culture--that kind of drew you away from her journey. Perhaps I only felt this way because he is one of the few named, and known, people in the book.

Overall, it's a good read. Coupled with the short chapters, it felt a lot like a bedtime snack to relax to before drifting off. You feel as if you know Chely, and you can empathize with her. And if there's the added bonus of making one parent show their child understanding, it has worked.

On a side note, this is the first book I bought for my Xmas gift  Sony E-book Reader,  and it was a quick read, with the few photos showing up nice enough. I do love having a real book, though, you know? Glossy photo pages, the smell of it, know what I mean? =)
Profile Image for Kristin.
979 reviews6 followers
December 18, 2015
When I learned of the story behind this book, I was deeply saddened. Not that Chely is gay, that part doesn't influence whether I like or dislike her music, but that she felt so ashamed of her secret that it almost cost her her life. As I listened to her songs in the days following her coming out, all I could think about was how she nearly chose to silence that beautiful voice and what a loss that would be to the world. I was interested in reading Chely's book because I've always enjoyed her music and have read a number of other country music autobiographies, but it took a while before I found a copy in the stores.
If you are strongly opposed to a homosexual country singer, I recommend not reading this book, because Chely devotes equal time to her rise to success and how keeping her secret affected her life at these critical junctures. She knew she was a lesbian early on, developing a crush on a pretty grade school teacher, but social cues and a limited exposure to knowledge about homosexuality convinced her not to act on those impulses. By the time she had her first intimate relationship with another woman, she also knew she wanted to be a country singer and that there had never been an 'out' singer who became a star, so to reveal the truth at that point would have killed her career before it began. Through #1 hits and strong record sales, she found it easier to come across as an extremely private person who keeps her personal and professional lives separate than risk letting any hints that she was living with another woman slip.
I imagine I was like many country music fans in reacting with a bit of surprise when Chely came out because I remembered that she dated Brad Paisley before he was married, but it was simply one of many attempts by Chely to see if God had answered her prayers and granted her an attraction to men. I read Brad's autobiography, which was written before Chely's book, but I don't recall whether he included anything about their relationship or not. As a Facebook follower of hers before this book was released and now since, I've been able to follow how things have changed both for the good and bad. Some of her concerns came true, that she would likely lose most of her radio airplay, invites to play the Grand Ole Opry (She and Paisley were the only non-members to perform on the Opry's 75th birthday TV special. He has since become a member. She has not.) would cease, and peers in the business would turn their backs on her, citing their strong Christian roots. However, good has come of it, the most obvious being that she no longer feels the internal hatred of who she is and fears of being found out, is married, and has twin sons with her wife. Other country singers have cited her courage when they revealed their own homosexuality, and she has become a strong supporter of gay rights in the Bible belt.
I did feel that Chely's music career took a back seat in this book, but it did make sense as to why when the potential audience reaches far beyond country music fans who know all her hits. She just glazes over the high points of her career and the lesser known albums and singles don't get a mention, but I imagine that writing the book and focusing on all the parts of her life that she had to keep hidden for so long was very cathartic, whereas her career highs and lows had already been written about extensively in magazines and internet articles because she kept the personal side to herself in those days. If writing a book and spilling her soul out into the pages is what Chely Wright needed to keep herself from ending her life and in fact allows her to finally life that life to the fullest for the first time, then I'll take a glossed over account of her fame in exchange for the potential to hear new music.
Profile Image for Lacey Louwagie.
Author 7 books58 followers
March 24, 2014
“My policy was that if something I might do or say were to put off just one of my one million fans, I wouldn't take that risk. I believed that I had it in my power to maintain the approval of all one million people, and anything short of pleasing every single one of them was unacceptable to me.”

I usually don't read celebrity biographies, but Chely Wright's documentary about coming out as gay ("Wish Me Away") is so well done and moving (my husband and I both cried) that it piqued my interest in reading her autobiography, especially since the documentary also chronicles her journey to release the book. I also have her CD "Lifted Off the Ground," and these three media offerings serve as something of a "trifecta" of Chely's coming out journey, each one complimenting and enriching the other.

This is also the only celebrity autobiography I've ever read that doesn't have a ghostwriter credited -- probably because she was writing it in secret for months, without a publisher lined up, as the first step in coming out publicly. As such, the book is more a collection of short stories about her experiences as a lesbian and in country music, and the somewhat stilted writing, especially near the beginning, reveals her lingering discomfort or "old-fashioned" sensibilities when it comes to homosexuality (example: she uses the word "homosexual" a lot in the opening chapters, rather than the more casual "gay" or "lesbian," keeping her experience somewhat clinical. As the book goes on, she more naturally starts using conversational language around her experience of being gay.) This "collection of thoughts and stories" approach keeps the book from having a clear narrative arc, and there often are not tidy segues from one chapter to the next. The short chapters can feel somewhat abrupt, but they feel fitting in a book about fragmenting yourself.

This is not a titillating "tell-all." Chely's reputation as a "private person" remains even in her autobiography, which skims over intimate details of her relationships and her first sexual experiences with women, and it ignores her first sexual experiences with men; she mentions them in passing but it's not clear when they began. Still, Chely is a surprisingly competent writer. (I say surprising because writing is not her profession, and it takes most writers years to attain anything even close to mastery.) While the prose isn't transcendent or particularly beautiful, it's authentic and filled with specific details that easily ground the reader in Chely's experience. Overall, it feels so real and relate-able even though the life of a country singer on a major label is so different from mine. Through it all, Chely seems to remain grounded and down-to-earth, aware of her privileged position and also not out of touch with the way the rest of the world lives. This captures her sensibilities particularly well:

“I was becoming known in Nashville and in country radio as one of the hardest-working new artists around. Mind you, the work that was being asked of me was not that difficult—they weren't asking me to throw hay bales up on the back of a flatbed trailer; they weren't asking me to pour and finish concrete. It was not hard labor, for the most part. They were asking me to come in and sign five hundred posters at once—big deal.”

Despite coming out and becoming active in GLBTQ rights, Chely retains a lot of traditional sensibilities, including her approach to sex, drugs, work, and religion. As such, her voice is an important one for progressives and conservatives alike, and she bridges the gap with strength and authenticity. After years of fragmentation, it's beautiful to see this brave woman step into her wholeness.
Profile Image for Lissa.
1,082 reviews113 followers
May 21, 2016
The book starts out detailing Chely Wright's low point in life; alone and teetering on the edge of a breakdown, she contemplates suicide. But, thankfully, she doesn't do it. Instead, she decides to come out of the closet, in spite of the potential consequences to her career, not only to her family and friends, but to the world.

While a typical memoir in many regards - Ms. Wright details her childhood, which wasn't idyllic, as well as her rise to stardom and her involvement in USO shows for the troops stationed overseas - she also talks about gay rights, why being gay isn't a choice (I honestly do not know HOW anyone could argue with a straight face that being gay is a choice nowadays), and how being closeted might have made her career happen but she lost a lot, and hurt many people, along the way.

Sometimes the book seems disjointed and out of order - there's an anecdote about how her parents treated her sister Jeny, calling her fat and tying her up to the back of a car to make her run, that feels out of place (and horrifying!) - but, altogether, the memoir is a great read. It shows how keeping secrets about your sexual identity harms both you and those around you.

There are times when the book made me cry, because I could so relate to what Ms. Wright had experienced. I'm obviously not a country star, and I don't live my life in any sort of limelight, but I understand how she struggled with keeping her secret quiet from her family in fear of how they would react (I still haven't told anyone in my family, and likely never will), and how sometimes those who are most vocal about homosexuality being a sin are struggling with their own gayness (sigh...been there, done that). And to keep going through the tired tracks of convincing yourself that you're not REALLY gay, that it's just a phase, or just this person, or whatever. It's hard and sad and depressing.

I recommend this book; you don't have to be interested in country music to enjoy it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 178 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.