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Ithaca College to Screen Documentary on First 'Out' Country Music Star

 ITHACA, NY — The feature-length documentary “Chely Wright: Wish Me Away” — an intimate look at the first country music star to come out as gay — will have its Ithaca premiere at Ithaca College on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Part of the Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen series, the film will be shown at 7 p.m. in Textor 101, and it is free and open to the public.

Over a three-year period, award-winning filmmakers Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf followed Wright’s unfolding plan to come out publicly after a lifetime of hiding, a step that shattered cultural and religious stereotypes within Nashville, her conservative heartland family and, most importantly, herself.

Using interviews with Wright, her family, key players in Nashville and her management team, the film shows how she became an established country music star, how she prepared to step into the media glare to reveal that she is gay and how the announcement impacted those around her. “Wish Me Away” reveals the struggles of someone who is a Christian who happens to be gay, and how “don’t ask, don’t tell” has found its way into the culture of country music.

Among other honors, the film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival; Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Nashville Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival and Melbourne, Australia, LGBT Festival; and Jury Award for Best Documentary at the Atlanta Out on Film Festival.

Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen is sponsored by the Ithaca College Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Education, Outreach, and Services. The theme of this year’s series is “Music: From A Cappella to Queercore.” For more information, visit