chely wright picture 4 230x300 Country Singer and Devout Christian Chely Wright Coming Out as a LesbianI’m sure this will surprise no one who’s involved in the country music world, as country music is much like Christian music, in that it’s full of closeted gay people. But many country fans may be surprised to find out that Chely Wright is a lesbian:

TMZ has learned the big “coming out” announcement planned for this week will be … country star Chely Wright.

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Wright has a book coming out this week as well — it’s called, “Like Me.” And she has a CD coming out too — called “Lifted Off the Ground.”

The 39-year-old singer scored a #1 country song back in 1999 with “Single White Female,” when she was named Academy of Country Music new artist of the year.

Wright is the first major country artist ever to come out. She has been romantically linked to a number of celebs, including Brad Paisley.

On top of that, Bil Browning reports that Wright will be joining the board of Faith in America:

Known as a devout Christian, the close association with Faith In America is a natural fit for the country superstar. “Her life experiences drew her to the work FIA is doing,” Mitchell Gold, Faith In America’s founder, told me. “She knows this is a big part of the change we need.”

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“Chely has made a commitment, like me, that not one more kid should go through what we went through. We often talk about having the right messengers deliver the messages of equality to various audiences,” Gold said. “Well, now we have one – a shining star – that will touch an audience I dare say none of us could ever dream to. I think this is going to be significant.”

That’s awesome. I’ve always said that, the more visibility LGBT people have, especially in places where anti-gay forces have trained their people to believe that we don’t exist, will mark a sea change in the struggle for equality in this country. It’s one thing when it’s Rosie O’Donnell, who they can easily broadbrush as an East Coast elitist Hollywood San Francisco big gay lesbian Pelosifascist liberal. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) But when their own celebrities come out, many who exist somewhere between the movable middle and the Red State Right will have to confront the fact that people they admire and respect are gay.

And there are more of them. SO many more.

I haven’t done any statistical analysis on this, but it seems to me that the trickle of celebrities coming out is increasing lately. So who’s next?

If you weren’t familiar with her (I knew the name, but not much else), here’s one of her biggest hits: