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Chely hid her sexuality from family and friends, and after high school, she moved to Nashville. After landing a recording contract, Chely's childhood dream finally came true. In 1999, her song "Single White Female" shot to the top of country music charts, and she received top honors at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Despite her professional success, Chely was haunted by her closely guarded secret. "I was never able to fully absorb the joy of my accomplishment. With each rung of the ladder I climbed, people wanted to know more," she says. "Had you told me in 2000, had you said, 'You're going to be the first chart-topping country music singer to step forward and acknowledge her homosexuality,' I would have laughed in your face. I knew it would ruin my career."
But, in May 2010, Chely made the decision to stop living a lie. In her memoir, Like Me, Chely tells the world she's gay and describes how a lifetime of deception almost drove her to suicide.