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Growing up in a southern community that shunned homosexuality was not easy for country music singer Chely Wright, the star said as she broke her silence about her sexuality this week to publicly come out of the closet.
As she rose to stardom, Wright's initial response was to keep mum about her sex life, the singer said.
"I wasn't going to be the first, " Wright told PEOPLE this week. "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality."
Wright, 39, an award-winning country artist, finally revealed that she is a lesbian in her memoir, Like Me, and her new album, "Lifted off the Ground," both to be released this week.
"Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out," Wright told PEOPLE.