I was watching a documentary the other day by Chely Wright.
For those who don’t know, Chely Wright is a country singer who came out as a lesbian a few years back.
Recently, she has released her documentary called Wish Me Away.
I hadn’t heard of this film or the book that she also wrote (sorry, the title escapes me right now) until Jenny was searching for them online.
Lately, Jenny seems to be on a crusade to watch as many shows on gay/lesbians and the struggles they face, as she can.
I’m sure the folks at Netflix are wondering just what type of research we’re doing here.
Anyways, she found Wish Me Away on iTunes and downloaded it, and after some poking and podding, she convinced me to watch it.
It was good. About as good as I thought it would be.
Don’t get me wrong. Coming out is traumatic. All of us who decide to do so, think long and hard about the consequences. We know we stand to suffer alienation from our family, friends, co workers, and society, as a whole.
Some of us are even placing ourselves in a position to be verbally and physically harmed.
I lost my career in the Army because someone found out my little secret and Uncle Sam wasn’t ok with it. (FYI. Don’t ask don’t tell is a crock of shit. Those of us that enlisted before the Clinton regime were simply discharged for “fraudulent enlistment”.Nice little loophole, huh?)
I’ve had my tires slashed, my car broken into and feces rubbed all over the inside of it. I’ve had my house egged and my fair share of nervous walks at night. My kids have been bullied and berated and, as I stated, I’ve lost jobs because of it.
So coming out is traumatic. Anyone who is brave enough to do so deserves at the very least, the respect for having that type of courage.
So, I’m watching this documentary and I’ve heard all the reviews and comments from her fans. Things like, “thanks for being so brave!” “you’re an inspiration to us all”, etc.
But how realistic is this?
Chely Wright had pretty much disappeared from the public spotlight before coming out. She had a successful career and a comfortable life. The odds were in her favor, compared to the rest of us average Joes. (yes, I am a Chely Wright fan. I think she is a talented musician and damn good looking)
I mean, when I came out I had about 5 people who supported me. And no, none of them were family. The rest of the world that knew I existed would have been perfectly happy if I would just disappear. Those who didn’t know I existed would rather I never existed at all.
Ms. Wright had a fan base. Some of them decided she wasn’t worthy of their loyalty anymore. But those who left her circle, were quickly replaced by members of the LGBT community. People who say her coming out as a small victory for gay rights.
Was it? Did society change any more than it did when Ellen came out? Has it changed any at all? If anything, it seems to be getting worse.
Places that once didn’t have specifics in their laws concerning gay marriage are now amending their constitutions to exclude gays, specifically.
Now, before you get your panties in a wad, I am not saying that Ellen or Chely caused that. I’m simply stating that having these celebrities come out isn’t making change come any faster.
I’m not saying they should stay in the closet either.
What am I saying? Well hell if I know!!!
Actually, the whole point in this post is this… Coming out is hard and scary. Comparing what Chely Wright went through to what a 21 year old college student in Iowa would face is comparing apples to cocker spaniels.
The pain of losing family would be equally devastating to both. The fear of repercussions and violence would be the same as well. But what about when the dust settles?
Chely Wright is “that gay country singer”. She has thousands of supporters who cheer her on every day. She has a network of allies, due to her fame, to help buffer her from some of the abrasive crap that strangers are ready to unload.
The kid from Iowa? He doesn’t have a fan club. He doesn’t have a Facebook page with 20k in fans. He doesn’t have the financial resources to move to a community where his orientation isn’t the first thing people notice. He has his courage.
What I’m trying to say is this… Yes, Chely Wright coming out was an inspiring thing. But in my opinion, the courage it takes for the kid in Iowa to come out was probably ten times harder to muster. And, I speak from experience, a courage he somedays wish he’d never found.
Be proud of Ms. Wright. But be just as proud of the barista you see with the blue star tattoo on her left wrist. Be just as proud of the guy in skinny jeans who has tons of girl friends but no girlfriend.