March 8, 2012; Source: Washington Post

Chely Wright, one of the very few openly gay country musicians, recently celebrated the opening of LIKEME Lighthouse, the only LGBT center in the Kansas City, Mo. metropolitan area. Wright’s brainchild, the center hosted a series of events commemorating its opening. It showed a documentary on Friday, hosted a concert on Saturday, and held a photo shoot for the NoH8 campaign on Sunday.

“This just gives so much hope to these outlying areas, that your major metropolitan area has a gay and lesbian center,” Wright told the Associated Press. “That would have meant everything to me had I been a kid growing up in Wellsville, knowing that there is a beautiful facility in our major city, that that was okay.”

The center’s mission is “to provide a safe and welcoming space where LGBT individuals and their families, as well as straight allies, can come for education, resources and to build a cohesive LGBT community in the Midwest.” It will also “promote inclusion, respect and equality for the LGBT community,” while providing educational and social events. LIKEME hopes to “serve as a voice for the LGBT community in the Midwest.”

The center’s director, Charlene Daniels, said the space will feature a library and a small room where visitors can call a hotline tied to the Trevor Project, the leading organization for suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youths. The facility also houses a welcome center, a “cyber center,” and meeting rooms. The LIKEME Lighthouse is a project of the LIKEME Organization. Both the center and organization are named after Wright’s memoir, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.

Wright hopes to open similar facilities in other Midwestern communities. “It’s a pie-in-the-sky dream to think that we could have a prototype and be able to model other LIKEME Lighthouses,” she said. “But, yeah, that would be a dream. The good thing about dreams is sometimes they come true.” –Erwin de Leon