There seems to be a new kind of “coming out of the closet” occurring at the intersection of faith and sexuality. One in which renowned Christian authors and musicians are moving beyond public support of revisionist sexual ethics and themselves professing an openly gay lifestyle. Something novel to mainstream contemporary Christian culture.
Several Christian celebrities and their recent declarations as members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community sent shockwaves adding to the theological dissentions surrounding traditional Christian teaching. Even as the Church navigates delicate conversations around sexual orientation and gender identity, these celebrities’ wide influence could perpetuate misconceptions and confusion among Christians, especially many within the millennial generation, who wish to “reconcile” same-sex relationships and Scripture.
Below are brief biographies of five Christian celebrities who have come out as practicing gay lifestyles.
Glennon Doyle Melton
Popular Christian author and “Momastery” blogger Glennon Doyle Melton (pictured above) saw her 2016 memoir rise to the #1 New York Times Bestseller spot and was featured as an Oprah’s Bookclub selection. The book focused on Melton’s marriage in the wake of her husband’s infidelity and moving forward. Sadly, her marriage was not redeemed.
On November 13, 2016 Melton announced in a Facebook post that she was dating retired U.S. female soccer star Abby Wambach. Just three months later, Melton announced again on Facebook her engagement to Wambach. “Abby and I have decided to hold hands forever. Love Wins,” Melton posted.
Although Melton is a member of the notoriously liberal and declining United Church of Christ, her blog and bestselling book influence a considerably broad audience. According to her official website, Melton’s blog is “reaching millions of people each week.”
The Christian rock band Everyday Sunday composed popular Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) songs like popular “Wake up! Wake up!” and their bubbly melodies were hard to escape during the late 2000s. But last spring the band’s lead vocalist Trey Pearson sent shockwaves after declaring he is gay in an open letter fans.
In 2008, Pearson married his wife, Lauren, with whom he has two children. But Pearson claimed in his letter that his marriage was masking who he truly was. “I am never going to be able to change how I am, and no matter how healthy our relationship becomes, it’s never going to change what I know deep down: that I am gay,” he wrote.
“There is absolutely no conflict with accepting who I am and following Jesus,” Pearson told Religion News Service’s Jonathan Merritt. “God wants me to be healthy, authentic, whole, integrated and my truest self.”
Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) star and worship songwriter Vicky Beeching’s lyrics to “Glory to God Forever” are sung by millions of Christians in the United States, where she lived for nearly a decade writing and recording worship music. In August 2014, Beeching, then 35 years old, came out as gay during an interview with The Independent, a British newspaper.
Beeching grew up in the United Kingdom attending first a conservative Pentecostal church before switching to an evangelical branch of the Church of England. “I still consider myself an Evangelical. I love the Evangelical Church,” Beeching said during her keynote address at the 2015 Gay Christian Network conference. “And yet many people in that tradition say that I can’t belong. But I point them to Jesus. The storyteller. The man who answered questions with questions.”
According to her official website, Beeching was named “arguably the most influential Christian in her generation” by The Guardian and her vision is to “help change the Church from the inside out until it affirms and blesses LGBT sexuality and equal marriage.” Beeching is currently working on a memoir focusing on her Christian faith and story of coming out as gay to be published by HarperCollins in 2017.
In 2003 Jennifer Knapp, a popular Christian music artist, suddenly stepped away from the CCM scene. A surprising decision for a young Dove award-winning artist and Grammy nominee whose debut album sold over 500,000 records. Even more surprising: Knapp made headlines seven years later with a new album and new sexual orientation.
When asked in 2010 by a Christianity Today reporter if she attended a church, Knapp replied “No.”
However, Knapp continues to perform in liberal Christian circles, having sung at a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship event in 2012 and the annual Wild Goose Festival in 2013, as the Institute on Religion and Democracy previously reported.
What 90’s Evangelical kid doesn’t remember singing along to “The Anchor Holds” or “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb” in church? That’s because Christian singer and songwriter Ray Boltz sold nearly 4.5 million albums by the time he retired from the music business in the late 1990s.
During his retirement in 2004, Boltz came out as gay to his family. In 2008, Boltz had agreed to perform at Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Community Church, a reconciling congregation, as Christianity Today reported at the time. When The Washington Blade, an LGBTQ newspaper, found out Boltz performed at the church they reached out. That’s when Boltz said he decided to publically declare he was gay.
“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid,” Boltz told The Washington Blade. “I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore — when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ‘Just end this.’”
Today Boltz tries to stay out of the limelight for the most part. The last interview I could find was between Boltz and Watermark Online in 2015 where he discussed his journey and plans to perform at Venice’s Metropolitan Community Church in Florida. “I think faith is a journey,” Boltz told the outlet. “It goes back to the concept ‘honest doubt leads to great faith.’ I came to the realization that God loves me just the way I am.”