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Live, Laugh, and Love

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No room for gay people in the country-music industry?: make room for Curtis Braly.
No room for gay people in the country-music industry?: make room for Curtis Braly.

Country-music artist Curtis Braly comes out and comes to Houston.
by Barrett White

When People magazine reported on Chely Wright’s 2010 autobiography in which she reveals she’s a lesbian, the country music industry quickly quieted Wright’s career, despite her obvious talent. Though Wright still performs today and her solid fan base holds her in high regard, her spotlight is notably—and unfortunately—dimmer than it once was in Nashville.

Three years later, on April 23, 2013, power-ballad country singer Curtis Braly, inspired by Wright’s bravery, followed in her fearless footsteps and publicly announced that he is gay.

“I finally came to the conclusion that if I could not be honest about who I was and be in the country music industry, then I didn’t want to be in it,” Braly says. “I was not going to beg for their acceptance; that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to encourage others struggling with their sexuality to do, so I couldn’t do it myself. My hope is that my courage will be infectious to others that are in the same boat. Chely Wright was the first to do it, and I can only imagine the bravery it must have taken. Her courage gave me courage. My courage will give someone else courage, and so on. That’s what it’s all about.”

Since his coming out, Braly feels that his relationship with his partner, Jeff, has only grown stronger. Now that he is open about himself, he confides that he no longer feels the pressure to keep Jeff hidden for fear of being “outed” by those who recognize their relationship. Just this past March, Braly accepted Jeff’s proposal of marriage over a candle-lit dinner on the beaches of Cancun—a sweet love song with the promising refrain It gets better.

Braly is currently busy promoting his tour “Live Laugh & Love,” which makes a stop right here in Houston on May 9. The tour, Braly says, celebrates his success at freeing himself from conforming to what others wanted him to be. The past year has shown him that you don’t need to conform to societal norms in order to make a name for yourself in the industry. Just a few months ago, Braly was named a “CMT Artist,” an elite title for country singers to obtain. After being told several years ago by country music insiders that there was no room for gay people in this industry, this Country Music Television honor is especially meaningful.

“Household names like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris have proven that being true to yourself, but not making it a label of your career, pays off,” Braly says. “They have taken the opportunity to show those who are uneducated about the LGBT community that we are just as normal as the next guy. The public loves them because of their talents, and that’s the way it should be. It’s time for country music fans to experience the same.”

Braly also gave advice for others who fall within the LGBTQ spectrum. Braly says it is important to just “stay true to yourself” and to “respect others and remember that there is always someone looking up to you. Use your talents to touch people in a way that only music can. If you can touch someone’s heart through your music, you’ll win them over every time! The horse called life will throw you off from time to time, but you just have to keep climbing back on it.”

This go-getter attitude is something Braly thrives on. An admitted adrenaline junkie, he says that “from bungee jumping to skydiving, I’m all about it. You have got to keep some excitement in your life.” Any daunting obstacle that is put in front of him—from being gay in an unsupportive industry, to jumping out of an airplane—he tackles with class and a country twang.

Perhaps this lyric from the title song of his tour sums it up best: “You can have it all, but it won’t be enough, unless you take the time to live, laugh, and love.”

What: Curtis Braly “Live Laugh & Love” Tour

When: May 9, 9:30 p.m.

Where: Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, 11410 Hempstead Hwy.

Tickets/info: braly.eventbrite.com.

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Barrett White

Barrett White is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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