Coming Out: The New “Coming Soon”?

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Is declaring one’s (hetero)sexuality the latest twist in personal branding? Is “coming out” the new “comeback”?

People magazine’s May 5th issue features a declaration by country singer Chely Wright—who last made waves with her #1 1999 hit, Single White Female, above—that, yep, she’s gay.

The timing of her announcement coincides with this week’s release of her memoir, Like Me, as well as her first album in five years, Lifted Off the Ground. She’ll also appear on NBC’s Today Show tomorrow to discuss her personal journey.

Beyond the collective “Chely Who?” response this has generated, it’s also being seen as a cynical marketing ploy.[more]

Witness the comments on Gawker’s coverage of what it’s dubbing “Cinco de Gayo.” Gawker set in motion a week-long guessing game after news broke that a celebrity would come out of the closet in the May 5th edition of People.

TMZ confirmed the news after Gawker mistakenly placed their bets on country singer Shelby Lynne. Last month Jennifer Knapp, a Christian country singer, revealed that she’s gay on the eve of her new album release.

The bigger question: who cares? Aren’t we beyond this, people? (And, People?)

When Ellen DeGeneres came out with an infamous “Yep, I’m Gay” cover of TIME in 1997, it was big news. Today, thankfully, not so much.

It remains to be seen whether this particularl announcement will help boost Wright’s sales and personal brand, and whether being a lesbian now becomes part of her marketing strategy. Wouldn’t she rather get #1 hits again for her music, not her sexuality?

Color us cynical, but it seems a tad desperate. In Wright’s case, country music fans had seemingly forgotten about her over the last decade.
 
As for People, in the past it typically broke news on homosexual celebs that were at least been relevant, like Clay Aiken and Lance Bass, and not just because they had new albums, books or movies in the works. No surprise, some news outlets are questioning People’s celebrity news judgment.

Kudos, we suppose, to Wright’s publicist for ramping up anticipation and then letting the bottom drop out. Gawker and TMZ, at least, benefited from increased page views, while People.com may see a traffic lift—but nowhere near the stampede it attracted for its exclusive cover on Sandra Bullock’s secret adoption, we’re guessing.

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