I recently read an article in the online Down the Line Magazine. Actually, it was the entire issue, talking about homosexuality and the Church via interviews with Christian musicians we didn’t hear a lot about until very recently. In all truth, gay Christian musicians have been treated like an uncomfortable secret. So, until Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp came out very publicly, it was something you might hear about, or find information about if you really dug around.
Down the Line conducted three interviews, one with dUg Pinnick of King’s X, one with Sean Doty of Veil of Ashes and finally, Ric Alba of the Altar Boys & Undercover. Each interview reflects a different place, not surprisingly. dUg actually speaks from the place of not being a Christian. He is very explicit that the sexuality and change in belief were separate issues. I am inclined to accept this, as heterosexuals become atheists and agnostics all the time. I am not a big fan the most common Christian responses to this change, as it often involves highly inaccurate ideas of why people stop believing. That it is “trying to ignore God” or that they just “want to be their own God.” We love the old saying about Christianity not being the road tried and found wanting, but the path found hard and not tried. It’s pithy and arrogant, but it makes believers feel better about themselves.
Sean Doty is interesting, because he seems so ambivalent. He knows he is gay and seems pretty confident that it is natural. But he also does not rule out that he is living outside God’s will. I am sure there are those that are quick to leap on that admission. This is still very cut and dried for many.
I suspect, though, the one that will garner the most negative reaction is Ric Alba’s interview. Ric’s interview shows acceptance of his sexuality and yet still a believe in Christ. It might be different from what some would consider Christian orthodoxy. As much as it might pain Old Me, I am probably closest to Ric’s camp. Old Me? Would be incredibly disappointed and unwilling to support of Ric.
Why? Old Me would see this as a betrayal of Old Me’s faith. Old Me found all sorts of excuses to reconcile condemning the modern gay person. It was not hard, I loved gay people but hated their sin and so on. I asked why gay people saw their sexuality as so integral to their identity. Of course, that was because I ignored how central our heterosexuality is to most of us. We don’t think of it that way, of course. But we discuss people we are interested in, make public proclamations of our love. I mean, what bigger declaration of your sexuality is there than getting married? Many closeted gays are so fearful of being found out they get married so their family will not think they are gay!
What makes Ric’s story interesting is that he came out to Undercover in 1980. In 1980, he found the courage to be that honest. But given the times, Ric (like Sean) made an effort to suppress. He denied. He got married to his closest female friend. I’ve seen people try and argue that marriage is not just about sex. And, I do not disagree, but sex and desire are aspects that make marriage more than friends and room mates. A spouse should be more than a good friend. She deserves more than that. Understandably, Ric’s wife knew that the next step in marriage would not be the best idea. It’s actually all very heart breaking, as it seems outside forces really hurt the relationship between them afterward. To see where Ric has come to as a person since is inspiring for me.
One thing I wondered as I read the interviews and thought of previous artists who I found out were gay… how did this stay secret? It really has always seemed to be something people were willing to just pretend wasn’t there. And I suppose it makes sense. If the artist didn’t bring it up, there didn’t seem to be much attempt to “out” people to the fans. As long as the musician kept quiet, unlike a divorce,* the industry was plenty happy to pretend the issue wasn’t there. And force artists to hide and keep quiet. Absolutely depressing.
All three interviews are well worth reading, Down the Line Did a great job here. Again, you can find the issue here.
*Divorce is pretty hard to keep secret-not that this was not done as well. I was caught off guard to discover how many times Mike Warnke was divorced. Oddly, he never made a real attempt to hide it. He would talk about a wife on one album or book, and eventually he talked about a different wife. But he never mentioned the divorce and people didn’t bring it up as long as he sold records.