As we near the grand opening of the LikeMe Lighthouse, an LGBT Community Center in downtown Kansas City (next weekend), I’m exhilerated about the possibilities that lie ahead. I sit on the local Advisory Board of the Lighthouse, as Chair of the Mental Health Committee, so we’ve been busy getting everything ready. I’ll write more in the next couple of weeks about the Lighthouse. For now, I’m reposting a blog I wrote about a year and a half ago. The Lighthouse is the brainchild of Chely Wright (mentioned in the blog).

Tolerance vs Inclusiveness:

I’ve seen & heard the word “tolerance” thrown around alot this week. I’m not very fond of that word when used in the context of tolerating other people. If I need to tolerate something or someone, it implies that somehow I’m “better than” and just allowing that person or thing to exist in my awareness. So I prefer the word “inclusiveness” since it implies that we are all equals in our worth as humans and are a part of the same universe. No one is left out.

Our friend Chely Wright has been all over the national (& international) news this week. If you don’t know who she is (up to this week, there were a lot of folks who didn’t), she’s a Country Music Artist who has just come out of the closet as a lesbian – apparently the first to ever do so).

I’ve known Chely since she was 5 or 6 when we moved to Wellsville, KS where she grew up. My husband was her elementary principal and my kids went to school with her. Back then, I didn’t know she was struggling with this issue, but in recent years, have guessed – athough I had no idea to what depths it was taking her emotionally. She didn’t tell anyone and she became very good at hiding what she was going through. Those of you who know me at all know I’m fond of the 12 Step saying, “We’re only as sick as our secrets”. Secrets just exacerbate our shame and shame is the lowest emotional energy.

Chely is a shining example of a role model for inclusiveness. I had nothing to do with who she is today, but I’m so impressed and proud of her and how she has lived her life up to this point. She is not only extremely talented as a song writer and singer, she is compassionate, loving, inclusive, intelligent and articulate. She’s beautiful inside and out. I know what she is going through now is a relief after a lot of suffering and I don’t want to minimize anything she’s experienced. But I do believe there is a higher purpose to what she’s endured that has already shown up in her life – and it will be experienced by many for years to come.

I’ve been given several opportunities to help others come to terms with her announcement and how they feel about it. What I’ve said is this: Being gay is not a choice. She can’t change that about herself any easier than she can change being white or female. If you get the opportunity to read Chely’s memior, Like Me, you’ll see that she tried to change it. She tried to pray it away. From the first page you’ll understand no one would choose to go through that! It’s her truth. And that truth is going to help so many others find their own way.

On a much smaller scale than Chely is experiencing, I’ve experienced how my life has opened up once I’ve connected with and honored my own truth – in a multitude of issues. There’s a freedom that is indescribable when I just surrender to what I know is right for me. And it enhances not only my own life, but the lives of everyone I come into contact with because I’m so much more open and honest with them – allowing each of us to just be who we are.

I hope others will find this freedom to be who they are. Otherwise what’s the point of our being here? Imagine how dull life would be if we were all exactly alike!!