Country star Chely Wright who scored big hits with with “Single White Female” and  “Shut Up and Drive” is announcing she’s lesbian, according to TMZ and confirmed by other sources.  She is the first major country star to come out.

Chely is a strong supporter of US troops: She performed in Iraq right after the fall of Saddam Hussein; wrote the hit “Bumper of My SUV” in response to an irate woman’s comments about Wright’s United States Marine Corp bumper sticker; and was named Woman of the Year by the American Legion Auxiliary for her support of the troops, charity work and career achievements.

Along with her hit tunes, she has written songs for Brad Paisley, Richard Marx and others, and has had successful independent album releases. Additionally, she founded Reading, Writing, and Rhythm Foundation, which encourages musical education and supplies music instruments to schools. In the insert pages of her new CD Lifted Off the Ground she lists groups for her fans to explore:  GLSEN, Interfaith Alliance, Faith In America and her own foundation Reading, Writing and Rhythm.

So what does this mean? Chely’s announcement–which is linked to the May 4 release of her autobiography Like Me and Lifted Off the Ground–has the potential to shift a lot of  mindsets in many parts of the US where country music is big and in the armed forces which has experienced her unwavering devotion.   I bet folks in Fulton, Mississippi–where Constance McMillen lives–know who Chely Wright is.

Chely has joined the board of Faith In America, whose founder Mitchell Gold commented:

Her life experiences drew her to the work FIA is doing. She knows this is a big part of the change we need.

Gold explained the significance of Chely Wright’s announcement within the LGBT community and in America at large:

We often talk about having the right messengers deliver the messages of equality to various audiences.  Well, now we have one, a shining star  that will touch an audience I dare say none of us could ever dream to.