Its not often that listening to a person talk about their faith in God can inspire me and give me hope, yet Chely Wright was able to do so with her ideas on unconditional love, acceptance and a God different from the one taught by many churches, “a God of love, light and complete comfort.” I left the office that afternoon a changed person and began to read her book Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer, and continually found myself saying, “That sounds like what I went through, minus the God part.” For the first time I found the story that sounded like my own.
Much like Wright, for years before my first true crush I knew I was different, but I never knew exactly what that difference was until my freshman year in high school. And much like her first crush, mine was a brand new freshman government teacher in her mid 20’s. I was scared out of my mind by my feelings. I would sit in class and will myself to not look at her, to not think about her, to not care what she thought of me, until I finally gave in and transferred into her history class my sophomore year. Oddly enough, this teacher was the one who inspired me and gave me the strength to come out to my parents.
The other detail about Wright’s story that will continue to resonate with me, is when she was 12 years old and explored the idea of being born in the wrong body, a concept I explored myself at a much younger age. Whenever I would hear stories of people feeling as though they had been born in the wrong body they would identify as transgender and begin taking steps to transition, but I didn’t fit into that category. This was only furthered by own alienation and beliefs that there was truly something wrong with me, that briefly at a point in my life I felt like I should have been born male. Now that I know I am not the only person to have felt this way I have accepted that moment in my past and no longer feel strange about it.
Wright could be downplayed as just one of latest names added to the list of public figures to come out and openly identify as LGBT, but don’t dismiss her like I almost did. Her honesty about her childhood and the struggles she has endured as an adult have been a breath of fresh air and has allowed her story to become one of power, not only to the rural young person contemplating ending their own life, or worrying that there is no one else in the world like them or who understand what they are going through, but also to the blind eye of the straight community. Not many public figures are willing to go on national television and admit they once felt that their only option was to take their own life.
So again, do not dismiss Chely Wright as just a name to be added to the list. Read our interview with her, listen to her latest album Lifted off the Ground (the first country album I have ever purchased) or pick up a copy of her book, and maybe she will inspire you like she did me.
CLICK HERE to read the interview.