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Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country…
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Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

by Chely Wright

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This memoir is about homophobia and the effects of homophobia on an individual and on her relationships. It’s written in a simple, conversational way. Life in the closet, for an all-American girl, is not an easy thing. Wright stunted every aspect of her life except her career. She couldn’t see being a country music star as compatible with being a lesbian, and her life had to become pretty intolerable before she could even come out to herself. She has a story to tell, and it’s a brave thing for her to tell it. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
This memoir is about homophobia and the effects of homophobia on an individual and on her relationships. It’s written in a simple, conversational way. Life in the closet, for an all-American girl, is not an easy thing. Wright stunted every aspect of her life except her career. She couldn’t see being a country music star as compatible with being a lesbian, and her life had to become pretty intolerable before she could even come out to herself. She has a story to tell, and it’s a brave thing for her to tell it. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 24, 2013 |
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. ( )
  schatzi | Apr 13, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307378861, Hardcover)

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.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:29 -0400)

From Wright--an award-winning country music singer and songwriter--comes a candid and inspiring glimpse into her extraordinary journey from high school homecoming queen to #1 "Billboard" artist, and an exploration of the toll that success has taken on her life.… (more)

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