"I can tell you, it's the greatest feeling in the world," says country star Chely Wright, on Alan's coming out

By Jeff Nelson
January 17, 2017 02:31 PM

Since coming out as gay last week, CMT host Cody Alan has received an outpouring of support from fans and his country music peers.

On Thursday, the radio and TV personality, 44, opened up about his sexuality for the first time on social media after speaking to PEOPLE exclusively earlier in the week about his decision to share his revelation.

Chely Wrightthe first major country star to come out publicly in 2010 — is now coming forward to congratulate Alan on his announcement.

“Cody Alan’s choice to share his whole truth is important on a lot of levels. It’s a huge moment for him, personally, in that he can now be free of continual worry that someone will find out before he’s ready for them to find out — and I can tell you, it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Wright, 46, who released her new album I Am the Rain in September, told PEOPLE in an exclusive statement.

“And on a social/cultural level, his courageous coming out will ensure that many people will feel just a little less different. Cody is a beloved personality in the country music community, and his honesty with fans and industry alike will challenge a lot of people to realize that someone they have known, loved and admired for so long is a member of the LGBT community. That’s the power of coming out. I’m really happy for you, Cody,” Wright added.

Wright is just the latest Nashville star to add her voice to the choir in support of Alan. The day he came out, Music City A-listers took to social media to back him.”So much love and respect for you, sweet Cody! You are one of the kindest human beings I know. I wish you nothing but happiness!” Carrie Underwood tweeted.

“Proud of you dude,” Dierks Bentley tweeted. “Happiness is found in the most authentic form of ourselves. Carry on!”

Singer-turned-Dancing with the Stars favorite Jana Kramer wrote: “So so SO proud of my dear friend @cmtcody. I love you! Living an authentic life is the best way to live.”

And the praise continued to roll in. The legendary Toby Keith wrote, “[I] admire your courage”; vocal equality advocate Kacey Musgraves said, “Youre paving the way for others in the country music community to be themselves proudly. As we all should be! Proud of you”; chart-toppers Little Big Town said they have “so much love for you @cmtcody“; and four-time Grammy nominee Maren Morris said simply, “You’re the best.”

Furthermore, other LGBT voices in the country world came out in support, as well. Ty Herndon — who came out to PEOPLE exclusively in 2014 — tweeted, “Congrats to this amazing man! Your Fans and fellow artists love you!” Billy Gilman, who also came out in 2014, wrote, “Bravo @cmtcody you’re one of the kindest people I know. I can add brave to that list too.” And out Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Brandy Clark said, “So happy that you can embrace who you are,” adding the hashtags #loveislove and #loveisneverwrong.

As Alan previously told PEOPLE, he struggled with sexuality for years, at one time getting married and welcoming a daughter and son — who are now 18 and 14, respectively — before beginning to come out 10 years ago and getting divorced. Happier, healthier and in a good place with his ex today, Alan now enjoys life with his partner, occupational therapist Michael Smith, and hopes opening up about his sexuality helps others.

“I would like to be a voice that can speak to people who are facing challenges that we all face, for struggles that we all come across, because we’re all going through something. To be able to say: There is life, and you can find it, and take steps to improve yourself based on what you know… If I could be someone who’s vocal about facing struggles and overcoming them, I’d like to be,” he told PEOPLE at the time.