Country singer Chely Wright said she never thought she would be the first gay country music singer to come out of the closet.
“I just was certain I wouldn’t be the one," she said in a taped interview with Fox411.com (WATCH VIDEO). "Somebody would be the first, and it would be neat if I were the fifth or the fourth or the third. And believe me I would loved to been able to just Twitter this information and say yup – I too am gay.”
So what kept her from coming out sooner? Wright, 39, said it was her belief that “you’re not allowed to be gay in Nashville.”
“I did know that I was in social jeopardy and cultural jeopardy, and that this was something I had to hide if I wanted to achieve my career dreams of being on the Grand Ole Opry stage,” she told Fox411.com. “As far as I knew, there had never been a man or a woman ... that made country music who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality.”
Adding fuel to the fire, she said, was a conversation she had with John of Big and Rich. Ten years ago, Wright said she suffered a meltdown when he commented on her sexuality.
“[John] said, ‘You’re not gay are you?!’ I said, ‘No, John, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Good, thank God.’ And that began a spiral for me,” the singer wrote in her new book "Like Me." “I had a meltdown shortly after that.”
Tuesday, John told Access Hollywood that he felt “awful” that his comments were misconstrued.
“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,” he said in a written statement.
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
But now, Wright is happy to have revealed her secret and feels confident in her “incredible relationship with her fans,” some of whom she said have called her an “inspiration.”
“I’m proud of my whole self and I’ve never celebrated my whole entire self before," she said. "This week is about doing that.”