Coming out from among them
[NOTE: Comments are now closed, since most people stopped saying anything new or illuminating a long long time ago.]
The Washington Blade covers CCM’s Ray Bolz and his decision to be honest and open about his sexuality (this mainstream media treatment of Christian entertainment subculture echoes GQ’s article on Kirk Talley a few years ago; I find it a telling indictment of the Christian press that it is virtually incapable of writing meaningfully about these sorts of stories). I like to think I’ve got a pretty good gaydar, but I did not see this one coming (out). More interesting for southern gospel may be the context lower down where the author talks about Kirk Talley and comes as close as anything I’ve seen in print to saying about Mark Lowry what most of the industry strongly suspects or thinks they know. Money quote:
No artist of Boltz’s prominence has come out. A few minor CCM players have, but their decisions were hardly celebrated.
Marsha Stevens, a Jesus Movement songwriter famous for the Christian folk song, “For Those Tears I Died,” a favorite in youth camps and churches for decades, came out in 1980. She was famously renounced by Bill Gaither, whom she’d been photographed with at one of his “Homecoming” concerts, in 2006.
Kirk Talley, a Southern Gospel singer (a slightly different genre than CCM, though there’s some overlap of the players), confessed to struggling with homosexuality and came out in GQ in 2005. He’s continued singing in churches but only because he’s categorized his sexual orientation as a burden to be carried.
Others appear to avoid the topic altogether. Though it’s not fair, of course, to assume a Christian singer who never married is gay, speculation has existed in fan circles for years that single CCM artists like Mark Lowry and Margaret Becker might be gay (Lowry has denied that he’s gay; neither Lowry nor Becker responded to interview requests for this story).
The whole thing is here (Hat tip, C).
Update: Examining the ex-gay movement and GMA responses to Bolz’s coming out, TWO has a cogent dissection of how the rhetoric of “choice” and “lifestyle” is deployed by opponents of homosexuality to deny homosexual orientiation as a basic element of the gay person’s identity, all experiential and (increasingly) empirical evidence to the contrary (and yes, I imagine this will be ardently disputed forthwith). As you can see in the comments here, the discussion of (homo)sexuality is really a proxy fight in the conflict between absolutist Christians, who see the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality as a real and direct threat to their way of life and values, on the one hand, and on the other, Christian humanists and secularist pluralists, who see the extension of human rights to non-heterosexuals as part of the urgent modern struggle to live up to our own best beliefs about the equality of all men (and women). I have no illusions that this debate will be resolved any time soon, whether religiously, culturally, politically, or legally - even as I refuse to stop believing there must be some intrinsic value in exchanges like the ones going on in comments threads like these, however conflictual they may be. But if history and current trends in changing attitude and beliefs are any indication, anti-gay arguments from the Biblical literalist point of view and the ex-gay perspective will sooner or later take up their place in the dustbin of earnestly held and honestly felt but ultimately discredited bigotries and phobias, alongside Biblical justifications of slavery, phrenological arguments for the inferority of non-white races, and psuedo-scientific claims about the genetic inequality of the sexes. Too many people think because they are on the right side of all those latter issues now that they can’t possibly be on the wrong side of the sexuality issue today, but then I’m sure that’s what pro-slavery preachers and segregationist phrenologists thought, too. Then, as now, this just shows how fundamentally good people can misjudge their position in history and so fail to see that even notionally absolutist worldviews have always had to accommodate themselves to mass-cultural shifts of value and belief (this includes fundamentalist and Biblical literalist evangelicals - witness, for instance, the Southern Baptist Convention’s renunciation of its own racist past). Acknowledging this sort of thing doesn’t make anyone a hypocrite. Just more wonderfully human.Email this Post