In honor of National Coming Out Day (Oct 11), I’m reposting part of a blog I posted in 2012, right before the grand opening of the LikeMe Lighthouse (LGBT Community Center in downtown KC). Please don’t skip over this one if you think it doesn’t apply to you. We’re ALL closeted in one way or another. And the solution for it is connection – with other like-minded, caring humans; with a higher self/power; with deceased loved ones who are acutely missed. Isolation is one of the most dangerous behaviors to our souls. And once we allow ourselves to become isolated, it’s more and more difficult to pull ourselves out of it.
So here is the edited blog. Most was taken from an article written by our long-time friend, and the founder of the Lighthouse, Chely Wright:
Last week I posted a blog about the impending grand opening of the LikeMe Lighthouse here in Kansas City that I’ve been blessed to be involved in to a small degree. As I write this we are coming to the end of the amazing three-day weekend event. When I tried to gather my thoughts about how to write about it, I kept coming back to the feeling I got when I met a young transgender man in the process of becoming who he really is. He said to me, “this is the most ‘out’ I’ve ever been. The atmosphere here is so welcoming and comfortable”.
THAT is what the Lighthouse is about! Our hope is that it provides that home for people who have never felt at home before. So rather than write a blog myself, I’m going to use the words of our founder, Chely Wright. Following is an article she wrote that was published in The Huffington Post. It says it all. (Love you Chely).
The LikeMe Lighthouse: A New Beacon of Hope for Kansas City’s LGBT Residents
. . .
I want to talk about what that word means to me in this context and why, in my opinion, it’s so important that Kansas City and other towns like it have a brick-and-mortar LGBT center.
It wasn’t until I came out, in May 2010, that I found my community. I moved from Kansas to Tennessee in 1989 to chase my country music dreams and went on to live in Nashville for nearly 20 years prior to my move to New York City in 2008. I put a lot of thought into relocating my life, locking the doors of my beautiful home in Tennessee and driving with a U-Haul trailer behind my SUV with just enough furniture for a small apartment in Manhattan. My reasons for taking such a drastic step were many: I needed to finish writing my memoir; I wanted to further steel myself for my impending, very public coming out process; and most of all, I was in search of my community. Almost immediately following my coming out to the world, I began to understand what importance community could hold in a person’s life. I was still relatively new to NYC, but I was making friends — real friends — with whom I could be honest, and I was easily appreciating that there were other people in the world “LikeMe.” I was becoming closer to people at a much quicker pace than during my time in Tennessee. I’m not saying that my friends in Nashville were the cause of my stunted relationships with people — they weren’t — and I’m not suggesting that I only want to be friends with people who are just like me — no, that’s not it at all. My point is that I was not truly connecting with my friends and flourishing in Nashville because I was deep in the closet; I was closed-off and isolated.
. . .
Human beings are not designed to be alone. None of God’s creatures are. I could cite some interesting statistic about the lifespan and physical and emotional health of lab rats that are isolated, and the data would be dismal. Well, I guess that all depends on how you feel about rats and their entitlement to happiness, but you get the point. It’s unnatural to be separated from the pack.
Think about it. When a kid in school has misbehaved and is sent out into the hallway, it’s not because the hallway is such a horrible place. The purpose is to create distance between the child and the other students. That’s the punishment.
Another way to illustrate how powerful the tool of isolation can be is to put it in these terms: what do our prison systems do to effectively administer the worst possible punishment to an inmate who’s negatively acted out? That’s right: solitary confinement. Isolation is the punishment.
Community is the cure.
It is my deepest hope that the LikeMe Lighthouse will stand tall, illuminating hope in every direction for all who have a need, whether it’s one of the many great, local LGBT advocacy groups already in existence wanting to hold its monthly meeting there, or the not-quite-out 19-year-old from a small town like the one I grew up in, Wellsville, Kan., or maybe, hopefully, the parents of the 14-year-old who sat his folks down the night before and nervously said, “Mom, Dad… I think I might be gay. There’s this place called the LikeMe Lighthouse on Main Street, and they’ve got a library with books for parents of gay kids.”
Again, while this article is about those in the LGBT community, we are all much more alike than we are different. We all come from the same energy – an energy that is LOVE. And when we leave this earth, that’s where we’ll return. What we want most in this life is to feel free to be ourselves, even if we aren’t sure what that is yet. That freedom is often found in our connection with others who have been where we have been. Most of my LGBT friends have taken huge risks in their lives, just to live their truth. I think that’s why I have so much respect for them. (Another group I’ve known intimately are those in the 12 Step recovery programs and most of them have taken that same leap of faith – to shed the protective layer that covers up their true selves) . Risk involves vulnerability. The bigger the risk, the more frightening the vulnerability. But when we find the community that is ours, we are home. And nothing is more beautiful than being home – and free.