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Chely Wright Says New York Times Op-Ed Speculating About Taylor Swift’s Sexuality Is ‘Triggering’ and ‘Upsetting’

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Chely Wright, who was brought up in the lede of a Jan. 4 op-ed published by the New York Times that speculated about Taylor Swift‘s sexuality, has shared her thoughts after being named in the piece.

“I was mentioned in the piece, so I’ll weigh in,” country singer Wright wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, Sunday (Jan. 7). “I think it was awful of @nytimes to publish. Triggering for me to read— not because the writer mentioned my nearly ending my life— but seeing a public person’s sexuality being discussed is upsetting.”

The op-ed is based on NYT opinion editor Anna Marks’ theory that Swift could be a closeted queer woman sending subtextual signals about her sexuality in her work. It weaves in discussion about progress that has been made around the LGBTQ community’s rights in the U.S. since the start of Swift’s career.

The piece references Wright’s memoir Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer. Wright, who came out as gay in 2010, has shared her personal challenges with going public about her personal life. As she wrote in an essay in 2011, “I didn’t know how to be me in this life that I’d carved out — this gay, Christian, farm girl from Kansas who sang country music. I just didn’t know how to make those pieces fit.”

Marks’ NYT article opens with this sentence: “In 2006, the year Taylor Swift released her first single, a closeted country singer named Chely Wright, then 35, held a 9-millimeter pistol to her mouth.”

Marks wrote, “Queer identity was still taboo enough in mainstream America that speaking about her love for another woman would have spelled the end of a country music career. But in suppressing her identity, Ms. Wright had risked her life. The culture in which Ms. Wright picked up that gun — the same culture in which Ms. Swift first became a star — was stunningly different from today’s.

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Since it was published, the NYT 5,000-word piece that goes on to make assumptions at length about Swift’s sexuality has faced criticism across social media for its open speculation about the Midnights singer’s private life and identity.

Wright, who had a No. 1 hit on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart with “Single White Female” in 1999, posted her comment in reply to music writer Chris Willman, agreeing with his take that “this was the least defensible op-ed I can remember ever seeing the NYT run.”

See Wright’s statement below.

Agree w/you, @ChrisWillman.

I was mentioned in the piece, so I’ll weigh in. I think it was awful of @nytimes to publish.

Triggering for me to read— not because the writer mentioned my nearly ending my life— but seeing a public person’s sexuality being discussed is upsetting. https://t.co/34uBwHwHaY

— Chely Wright (@chelywright) January 7, 2024

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