Singer Chely Wright says being out and proud is better.

The 41-year-old Wright came out gay last year and married her girlfriend Lauren Blitzer in Connecticut this year. She has become a leading advocate against the bullying of gay teens and a proposed constitutional amendment in her home state of North Carolina that would ban gay marriage.

In a wide-ranging interview with Chicago gay weekly Windy City Times, the country music star encouraged people to be open about their sexuality.

“It's my experience for me that being out is better,” Wright said. “That being said, I wouldn't have this forum had I come out when I was 19. I would not have been able to become a country music star. I also am painfully aware that not everyone is safe and able.”

“I know what it was about for me. It was that I wanted to keep my job. I wanted to keep making records, and I wanted to keep writing songs, and I wanted to keep being successful and making the money I was making and having the security I was having.”