Kenny Chesney: Fraud, Yes; Gay, No

Two years after his marriage to Renée Zellweger was annulled, country star denies gay rumors fueled by the breakup

By Sarah Hall Feb 16, 2007 12:01 AMTags

Kenny Chesney wants to clear something up once and for all: When Renée Zellweger called him a "fraud" in her annulment filing, it wasn't code for "gay."

Two years after his four-month marriage to the Oscar winner was officially wiped off the books, Chesney is speaking out for the first time about the rumors that began when Zellweger used the F-word in her court documents.

In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper, scheduled to air Sunday, the country singer denied he was gay and explained that he and Zellweger jointly decided on the "fraud" option, believing it was the "least harmful" stated reason. (Other grounds for annulment include bigamy, insanity and force.) 

Instead, the wording led to rampant speculation that Chesney deceived Zellweger about his sexual preferences before their marriage and that she only discovered his ruse after their May 2005 wedding in the Virgin Islands.

"It's not true. Period. Maybe I should have come out and said, 'No, I'm not [gay],' but I didn't want to draw any more attention to it," Chesney told Cooper. "I didn't have to prove to anybody that I wasn't [gay]. I didn't feel like I really did."

Shortly after filing for the annulment in September 2005, Zellweger issued a statement clarifying that the term "fraud" was "simply legal language and not a reflection of Kenny's character."

The couple also issued a joint statement through a spokesperson in which they attributed the annulment to a "miscommunication of the objective of their marriage."

Since neither party elaborated on their differing marital objectives, the rumor mill kicked into overdrive, generating possible scenarios behind the split.

But according to Chesney, his lone act of deceit during his brief union stemmed from his mistaken belief that he was ready to be a husband.

"The only fraud that was committed was me thinking that I knew what it was like...that I really understood what it was like to be married, and I really didn't," he said.

Even so, Chesney claims to have no regrets about his relationship with the Bridget Jones star.

"Even though I'd sit here and say I wish we'd gotten divorced instead of all that annulment stuff, and saved me a lot of public humiliation...I still don't have any regrets," he said. "I loved her, you know? And it was real."

Chesney, who makes a cameo in the pages of the music-themed Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featuring Beyoncé on the cover, kicks off his upcoming tour Apr. 12 in Omaha.

He is also nominated in three categories for the fan-voted CMT Music Awards, which will be presented Apr. 16 in Nashville.