In light of the recent horror stories of young gays in the US committing suicide, I think it is fitting that I post this now…
I’ve just finished reading Chely Wright’s harrowing account of her life. The book is called Like me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer. In it she exposes her inner demons and struggles about being a lesbian, with brutal and yet charming honesty.
For those who don’t know, Chely Wright is an award-winning country singer/songwriter who up until a short while ago, lived a lie.
She starts the book with the moment she puts a gun to her mouth and contemplates pulling the trigger. From there she takes us back through her life and trials, knowing she was different, knowing what that difference was, and knowing that if she ever told her secret, everything she’d worked for as a country music singer would be over.
I can’t imagine how she felt with a pistol in her mouth, ready to pull the trigger. But I do wonder how she feels every day since then, when she went from no future to a completely unknown one.
I’d never heard of Chely until she came out. Country music really isn’t my thing. And I don’t usually read autobiographies, but when I read the reviews and heard her story I know I had to read this book.
By the time I finished it was very late in the evening. I walked out onto my patio and stared into the chestnut trees that line my street and wondered how it would feel to come that close to Death, and walk away, still alive.
How would I feel? How would I view my life from that moment on?
That led me to looking at how I make my own choices in life, as one does when one is so profoundly moved. And it reaffirmed one thing I’ve known for quite a while and lived my life by as often as I could.
Most of life is a game. Sometimes its a very serious one, but it’s always a game. There are rules, and penalties for breaking those rules, if you’re caught.
Sometimes there are winners who bask in crowded adulation, and sometimes there are losers who crawl away into the dark corners to lick their wounds, and perhaps come barreling out the next day and try again.
The rules are set by ‘them’, of which we are a part whether we’re aware of it and consenting, or not. ‘Them’ is the middle ground of the society we inhabit.
But the truth is, there is no stable middle ground. It a constantly moving morass of energy created by those who are trying to win their way in, and those who are desperately trying to escape.
But there’s a third group, those who choose to live a different way. Who are trying to create something new, something real and truthful, based on their personal ethic.
That’s the territory I aim for. A place where I can live without the ‘have to’s’ and my inner critic who constantly compares me to ‘them’ and always finds me lacking, and the ‘shoulds’ crowding close and snapping for attention.
Perhaps this is the place Chely has found. I hope so.
I also think that her book needs to be read as widely as possible.
For every person who contemplates killing themselves because of the judgements of others, with a gun, or pills, or a car, or a rope, this book may bring in a slice of light through the crack in the door.
And for every young gay person out there, remember this, you are not alone.
“When you throw dirt, you lose ground.” – Anon