"Wish Me Away"

I watched a heartbreaking and inspiring documentary last year, Wish Me Away.  It follows Chely Wright, country music star, on her two year journey to come out as a lesbian.  And not only come out to her millions of conservative, Christian country music fans, but also to her friends and family.

Chely was speaking with her spiritual advisor,
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, regarding her fears of how her fans will react to her coming out.  It was an honest and realistic conversation acknowledging that some people who live for Jesus may not respond to her news as Jesus would, with acceptance and love.  Some would respond with judgement and condemnation, believing she was a sinner and would go to Hell.  He said, “There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.”

WOW.  That was quite a statement that snowballed on me.  The more I thought about it, the more truth I felt in it, the more examples of it I remembered in this world.  Although they were specifically talking about a Christian fan base, I would extend this statement to many more religions, even to atheists.  How may people have been ridiculed, hurt or even killed in the name of someone’s god or for believing in the “wrong” god or for just believing in something/someone?

Lots of people talk to us about Jesus and tell us what Jesus thinks of our “sins”.  But how many of us are being Jesus?  How many of us see Jesus in each other?

In the documentary, people close to Chely were interviewed about gays both before Chely came out to them and then again after.  Two of those family members really stood out to me: her dad and her nephew.  Her father was raised in a church that taught him homosexuality was a sin, was of the devil.  Her nephew made jokes about gays and talked down to them.  I think it’s easier for folks to have those discriminating thoughts when they believe they don’t know any gay people.  And I say “believe” for a reason, because we all know at least one gay individual.  You may not know they’re gay because they haven’t come out or they haven’t come out to you, but you know gays.  Family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members.  It was eyeopening to these two male family members when homosexuality gained a face.  A face that they knew and loved.

Oprah asked Chely’s dad what changed in him about what being gay meant when Chely told him and he replied, “I knew her.  I knew her heart, I knew her soul, her whole life…I would tell others, ‘Don’t close the door; open your heart’.”  Chely’s nephew choked up on camera and said that he really regrets how he spoke about and treated gays before finding out about his aunt.

I’ll end this post with another quote from Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, “What I came to believe is that the GLBT Movement is like the Civil Rights Movement because discrimination is the denial of one’s right to be, to be who that person is.”

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