LIKEME® Organization was founded in March, 2010, by country music star, Chely Wright, as she chose to publicly come out and to advocate for the LGBT community. Wright released her best-selling book, “Like Me”; a new music CD; and an award-winning documentary entitled “Wish Me Away” as she began her activism. She currently serves as national spokesperson for GLSEN, and appears regularly in the media to speak on LGBT equality and the needs of the LGBT community.
The LIKEME® Organization’s first mission was to speak out at schools, colleges, corporations and in the media about the need for LGBT equality and against classroom and LGBT bullying. Wright has been speaking regularly on the charity’s behalf and we appreciate her work to raise awareness for this charity.
In the Fall of 2011, with a spate of LGBT teen suicide, LIKEME® felt this country is losing too many bright young LGBT youth to suicide. In response, the LIKEME® Organization instituted a Scholarship Fund to provide college scholarships to graduating LGBT high school seniors who demonstrate that they actively advocate for the LGBT community, or who have been severely affected by the teen suicide of an LGBT family member. This scholarship is funded by individual donors. In 2012, scholarships were bestowed on five outstanding college freshmen at five different colleges across the country. These youth are the future stars of LGBT equality and LIKEME® is proud to show its support.
The LIKEME® Board of Directors, well known public figures from across the country who support the LGBT movement, wanted to do more grassroots effort to support the gay community. The LIKEME® Board voted to open an LGBT community center for the Midwest. The Kansas City area was chosen for the first LGBT community center and was named the LIKEME® Lighthouse.
A building at 3909 Main, Kansas City, MO, was rented on a long term lease, renovations were completed, and the LIKEME® Lighthouse was opened on March 10, 2012. The LIKEME Lighthouse’s goal is to provide a safe and welcoming place for the LGBT community to meet, to provide LGBT resources and education, and to build a sense of belonging for the LGBT community in the Midwest.
LIKEME® Lighthouse was open 7 days a week, and open to all segments of the LGBT community. The community center welcomed male or female, other sexual identities, gay or straight, and offered many services.
LIKEME Lighthouse had a lending library and reading room with books and DVDs on gay subjects, or books written by gay authors. Guests were able to phone in or visit the center for referral to LGBT resources or other LGBT organizations, either locally or nationally.
The center had a small private room where a guest could call a crisis intervention line for help with their immediate problem. This is important, for example, for a questioning high school student who doesn’t want to be seen inquiring, but needs help .
The center provided educational sessions and social events to give the LGBT community a sense of belonging and to bring them together. For example, Tuesday night was free movie night every week. Wednesday evening is a social group meeting for a different age group every week. Saturdays were Square Dance Lessons, which became a large fun event. Educational sessions were provided on health issues, tax strategies for same sex couples, gay adoption issues, classes on human sexuality, and other topics of interest.
The center also provided meeting space and conference rooms to the LGBT community for meetings of their organizations in exchange for a couple of hours of staffing each month from those organizations, which built a center place for the LGBT community. Long term rental of office space was available for LGBT organizations.
Staff of the LIKEME® Lighthouse also reached out to the community to support other LGBT organizations and campaigns, such as Aids Walk, Charity Bingo, food pantry donations for Passages, and other LGBT charities.
LIKEME® continues to support the LGBT community by raising funds for UMKC’s Diversity Programs. Questions for LIKEME® can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.