Chely Wright Supports LGBT Community with LIKEME Lighthouse
Last week I wrote about You Can Play, an organization founded by Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke in memory of his son, Brandon. Brandon was a student manager for the University of Miami hockey team and he was openly gay. Brandon believed that “if you can play, you can play” meaning that players should be judged on the quality of their game rather than their sexual orientation. This is a groundbreaking initiative as homophobia is still very much prevalent in team sports and this shined a light directly on that ugliness. Chely Wright is a country music star and she can relate to a similar ugliness.
Chely is the first commercial country singer to come out and live an openly gay life which seems incredulous given that she came out in 2010 – it’s not like we are talking about the 1950’s. Of her experience, Chely recently told Huffpost Gay Voices it was “everything one might imagine” and “by and large it’s been really positive.” She also received death threats from those that could not accept it. Wright is now taking all she learned from that experience and working to help other members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community so they feel safe, supported and empowered to lead the life they are meant to live.
- Images courtesy of likemelighthouse.org
The singer’s most recent album, ‘Lifted Off The Ground,’ along with her memoir ‘ Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer ‘ and documentary film, ‘Wish Me Away,’ all chronicled her coming out and the overwhelming experience it was. The culmination of all these efforts was the formation of the LIKE ME nonprofit organization and its recently opened project, the LIKEME Lighthouse. The LIKEME Lighthouse is the only LGBT centre in the Kansas City area which is also her hometown.
The LIKEME Lighthouse’s goal is “to provide a safe and welcoming space where LGBT individuals and their families, as well as straight allies, can come for education, resources and to build a cohesive LGBT community in the Midwest.” Wright commented that having a centre like the LIKEME Lighthouse would have meant a lot to her when growing up in Wellsville. The launch of the centre was a three-day affair and Alan Cumming, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, “Queer as Folk’s” Hal Sparks and other celebrities were on hand to help celebrate. Events included a performance by Chely and the screening of her documentary along with a photo shoot for the NOH8 campaign.
“The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.” This organization was created in response to the ban on gay marriage in California, a bill known as Proposition 8. The iconic images of celebrities (and non) with duct tape of their mouths and the NOH8 logo painted on their cheek is a silent protest, which was created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley.
The NOH8 campaign is supported by a wide-range of celebrities like KISS’s Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Guns ‘N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash, Larry King, Jill and Bobby Zarin of Real Housewives of New York, Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim Kardashian, E! host Giuliana Rancic, comedienne Kathy Griffin, Deepak Chopra, America’s Next Top Model’s Jay Manuel and Glee star Idina Menzel.
It is because of the discrimination LGBT youth and adults face that make places like LIKEME Lighthouse, campaigns like NOH8 and organizations like You Can Play necessary. All share a common goal and are working toward creating a more tolerant world where everyone is granted equal respect, opportunities, consideration and rights regardless of sexual orientation.
It takes much bravery to be the first to stand up against hate and ignorance especially when doing so can negatively impact your livelihood and alienate you from your professional community. That is what makes the actions of people like Brian Burke and Chely Wright even more incredible and the hockey and country music sectors are better off for them. I look forward to writing future posts on those they have inspired.
Wish Me Away Documentary Trailer
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