By Syd Miller, Associate Editor
Hello, and welcome back to Queer Country Rewind. Today, we’re going to be looking at Chely Wright’s hit, “Single White Female.”
Since Wright was a popular country artist in the 90s, it makes sense that despite her lesbian identity, she would craft her songs in a heterosexual light. Many of today’s contemporary queer artists have done the same thing — just take a look at Brandy Clark’s first two albums.
But today I want to talk about the evolution of “Single White Female.” After Wright came out in 2007, she struggled a bit in the country music industry. But the tide was turning, and soon our culture was able to celebrate Wright and her songs in the way they deserved to be recognized.
One of these turning points was at Capital Pride in 2010, three years after she came out. Wright was a featured artist and performed her hit “Single White Female,” to rousing cheers from the crowd. When she came to the end of the song, instead of singing the original lyrics of “lookin for a man like you,” she changes it to “lookin’ for a girl like you,” and the crowd goes crazy.
“Lookin’ for a girl like you,” she ends the song. “How about that!”
To me, this video is a beautiful testament to how one can embrace both their past and their present identities. Just because Wright is a lesbian doesn’t mean she has to ignore her songs; she worked hard on them, and they deserve to be heard. But the way she was able to combine the hit of her past and put her own twist on it to make it more true to herself was truly inspiring.
Wright has continued to be herself in country music. In 2019, she was invited back to the Grand Ole Opry, and though it’s been a tough road, she’s proud of everything she’s done. In an interview with Country Queer, she stressed how important her fans have been to her in her journey.
I dare you to watch this video and not smile when she changes the end lyrics. Her happiness, and the crowd’s joy, is contagious. I hope it makes your day in the same way it made mine.
Queer Country Rewind is a bi-weekly column that takes a fresh look at one iconic queer country song every installment.