Skip to comments.For Gay Christian Musicians, Work Balances Faith, Art, Love
Posted on 08/01/2011 9:03:54 AM PDT by Bed_Zeppelin
Many Christian denominations denounce homosexuality as a sin. As a result, gay Christian singers, songwriters and musicians face a challenge in balancing their art, their sexuality and their faith. For those few who have decided to come out, it has meant giving up successful careers.
Singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp has sold more than a million albums and earned Dove Awards on the strength of songs like her 1998 hit, "Undo Me." But in 2002, at the height of her career as a contemporary Christian artist, Knapp suddenly stopped making music.
"Knowing that I was going to have to publicly deal with my sexuality it really made me consider how much I wanted to participate in music," Knapp says.
Seven years later, Knapp reemerged, no longer self-identified as a Christian artist instead, she was a folk-rock musician, a person of faith and a lesbian. Knapp says that even after all that time, she still had doubts about coming forward.
"It made me very hesitant to get back up into the public level, knowing that there would be discussion about my sexuality on the whole," she says.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Dr. Teresa Hairston, publisher of Gospel Today magazine, says there are clear expectations regarding sexuality in the Christian church and in the Christian music industry.
"There is an assumption that as a minister of the gospel and your expression of that ministry being in song that you are an ambassador that carries with the gifting of the music a lifestyle that agrees with the Bible," Hairston says.
Yvette Flunder was an ambassador of the faith as the lead singer for the legendary gospel group The Hawkins Family. She was also a minister at the Love Center Church in Oakland, Calif., founded by group leader Walter Hawkins.
"At Love Center, we sort of practiced a 'don't ask, don't tell' environment," Flunder says. "Same-gender-loving people did exist in significant numbers, and do exist in significant numbers, but the determination was that it was problematic to be open about it. There were people in the ministry who were not able to reconcile same-gender sexuality and spirituality particularly Christian spirituality."
Flunder eventually left Love Center to found The City of Refuge Church in San Francisco. After she came out, she discovered that religious groups aren't the only ones uncomfortable with openly gay Christian artists.
"It became clear to the record label that my theology was a potential liability ... not because I was unique as a same-gender-loving person singing gospel music, but because I was clear about my sexuality and clear about my theological position regarding human sexuality," Flunder says. That tension eventually led to the end of her record deal with a major Christian label.
From Freedom To Disappointment
Flunder's experience isn't unusual. Another artist, Tim Dillinger, was known around Nashville as a go-to backup singer for gospel and secular recordings. Eventually, Dillinger began to get airplay for his own songs, such as "That's the Kind of Love." But one day, all that changed.
"Somewhere around the end of 2006, I came out on a gospel radio station in Kansas City," Dillinger says. "I did an interview there with a minister, Gerald Palmer, and it was the first time I'd said it publicly. It was the first time I'd talked about it in any kind of public forum, let alone on a gospel station."
Dillinger says coming out went from being a freeing experience to a devastating one.
"My audience in Nashville, where I was doing my concerts, literally cut in three-quarters," Dillinger says. "I used to say it cut in half, but it was really three-quarters. I went from being able to fill a room to begging people to come again."
Teresa Hairston of Gospel Today says cases like Dillinger's are an unfortunate reality.
"I think people should be able to be open about their choices," Hairston says. "They should be loved despite their choices. But they also have to realize that they have to be accountable for their choices, and that their choices have consequences."
For artists like Jennifer Knapp, those choices meant giving up a career as a gospel artist and coming back as a secular artist. For others, it has meant the end of their careers.
"A lot of people disappear. They have big careers, and then they disappear," Dillinger says. "It's almost like they do the music for the season that they can, and then they move on and take care of their personal lives. And it's just kind of a shame to me that this is what this community really forces people to do, because we are not willing to have an honest conversation about sexuality and really, really talk about why we believe what we believe."
For her part, Flunder says she's not discouraged by these challenges. In fact, she adamantly expresses optimism about what the future holds for gay Christian musicians.
"The time will come," she says, "when the church will celebrate its gay children and the incredible contributions that same-gender-loving people have made to the life, to the income, to the spirit, to the power, to the passion of the church."
There is absolutely nothing 'Gay' about a lifestyle rife in alcoholism, drug usage, the high incidence of domestic violence and STDs.
They are 'Homosexuals' ... period. They prefer the term 'Gay' only because it softens their image in the eyes of the culture.
“Gay Christian Musicians”
Well alrighty then. This is like a story about conservative liberals or coach potato marathon runners.
Defund NPR and let it find a market on its own.
Why I have to underwrite this is ridiculous. Moreover, if we are cutting, and CANNOT CUT NPR, then what can we cut?
Not yet. But wait.
“Gay Christian is an oxymoron! There is no such animal as a Gay Chirstian.”
Sure there are, just like there are adulterous Christians, lying Christians, Obese Christians, smoking Christians, Drunk Christians, Murderous Christians and so on and so forth. The thing is, that it is a Homo stuff is a sin.
A Gay Christian would be convicted of that and not try to justify it, I would think. But he still could be one.
“I liked many of Jennifer Knapp’s songs......
Hated it...when I heard she announced that she was a lesbian.”
Ray Boltz is too. I used sing to do a lot of his songs at church. Now he is now hitting for the other team. I guess the Anchor did not hold to well for Ray.
“As these guys have told me, Some of the regular hymnal compositions used every Sunday in the US were written by gay men who never came out of the closet.”
That’s a damn lie - and you are a fool for believing.
Fag would have you believe George Washington was a homo - if your gullible enough!
There is no such thing as a “gay Christian musician”.
Ray Boltz had a great song at one time...”What Was I Supposed to Be?” Should have been the anthem for Pro-Life.
I feel sorry for these people. They will be some of the ones who say, “Lord, Lord...I did this in Your name and that in Your name.” And He will say, “Depart from me ye accursed. I never knew you.”
songs like her 1998 hit, “Undo Me”?
And her 2008 followup, “Do Me”?
I love Romans. If you could only have one book of the Bible, sufficient for everything, it would be Romans.
I don’t see how the knowledge of the sexual proclivity of a person that writes/performs a song, can actually change the appeal of a song? It’s the exact same song as before you knew her sexual preference, isn’t it?
Like when Amy Grant left her husband and family for another man.
She was a huge star.
She basically lost her career for that adultery (as it appeared).
I do not know the circumstances of her leaving her husband/kids but I have heard no defense from her except that she fell in love with another man, so, I leave it at that.
Homosexuality isn’t the only sexual sin that can ruin a “Christian” career.
“Its the gay musicians working the Christian bar/cafe scene that get judged by the plastic people who attend those singsong services at churches using electric guitars on Sunday mornings.
Lest ye be judged.”
Jersey Highlander, are you suggesting that because we believe and accept God’s word on this matter, or any other matter, we are plastic and judgemental?
Shall we have the local unrepentant abortionist take communion? The man with the live-in girlfriend? The fence for the local stolen cars? Shall I sing God’s praises as written by the local pimp? Lest I be considered “judgemental?”
I am not suggesting that any of the above can’t repent and know the Lord -
but like you and I they must REPENT, not continue blithely in their sins of choice.
2nd John 9-11
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”
but why doesn’t the media ever talk about “Adulterous Christians” or “Bank-robbing Christians?
I disagree. The media has been talking about a certain “Christian terrorist” lately.
What I meant to say...is I used to listen to her songs back when she was popular.
That make sense?
And it will be after the rapture and the establishment of the one world religion. She wont like the ultimate end of that scenario.
“There are plenty of Christian churches that have no problem with this. The gays can simply worship there.”
There are plenty of “Christian” churches, replete with gift shops and entertainment-first Vegas show worship services, that don’t have a problem with pretty much ANYTHING, as long as it means new tithing members.
Jen would have destroyed ANYTHING on the radio during that timeframe!