Chely WrightChely Wright knew when she released her tell-all book, 'Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer,' last month she would endure a lot of criticism for coming out publicly as a lesbian. But she was unprepared for the backlash she faced regarding her admission of a relationship with Brad Paisley, while at the same time she was in an on-again, off-again relationship with another woman.

"I think there's a difference in a lot of the coverage being about Brad, versus Brad being a 'big part' of this book," she tells CMT. "I don't really think Brad is a big part of this book, but I do think there has been a lot of coverage about him being in this book. Brad is mentioned in two chapters. That's a fact. In my opinion, I obviously had to write about Brad because I couldn't call him 'Josh.' I couldn't call him 'Josh Brown' or 'Josh Sampson' in this book. It was widely known in public that Brad and I had a relationship."

Saying in 'Like Me' that she still mourns the fact that she knows Brad was hurt in the relationship, she acknowledges that he was only one casualty in her attempt to hide her homosexuality. "I wanted to make certain that everyone understood that when a person like me hides, they not only wreak havoc on themselves, but they damage other people around them," she says. "At that time, I caused incredible hurt and pain to Brad. I regret it very much. It's one of the great regrets of my life, and I needed to write that down. More than anything, I wanted to make certain that people knew he was not aware."

Talking openly about her journey before millions of people, thanks to her appearances on 'Oprah,' 'Today' and 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' among others, Chely says she did the media rounds for one purpose. "It's widely believed among a lot of people that listen to country music that 'gay' is something that only happens in San Francisco, New York and L.A.," she says. "But there are gays in Bakersfield, there are gays in Schenectady, there are gays in Tallahassee, there are gays everywhere. There's not a lot of talk about gay anything on country radio stations ... Now I hope the conversation and the dialogue can continue in an intelligent fashion."

Staying until midnight at a recent book signing in Nashville, listening to fans tell their stories, plus receiving more than 50 confessional letters from fans that night, not to mention the thousands she has already received, Chely says it's those moments that remind her why she decided to come out. "If I can be someone that they can say, 'Hey, she's like me,' that was my mission."

Planning on hitting the road this fall, Chely will first support several gay pride events, including appearances in Washington, D.C., Lansing, Mich. and Chicago. She will also make her first Nashville appearance as an openly gay country singer, when she hosts her tenth annual 'Reading, Writing & Rhythm' event tomorrow night (June 8), that will also include performances by Jamey Johnson, Trisha Yearwood, Bucky Covington, SHeDAISY, Rodney Crowell, Bucky Covington and Justin Moore.

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