Good for Jennifer Knapp! I got information yesterday as soon as the article came out in Christianity Today, that Jennifer Knapp is gay - and still Christian!
Of course this interests me, as it probably does other readers of this blog. It was only about 18 months ago (Sept. 12, 2008) that Ray Boltz (my former husband) made his public announcement or "coming out" statement. (Unfortunately, that article is not available online from the Washington Blade.) During the months that have followed, reactions from Christian fundamentalist/evangelical news venues/online magazines/media reports have been terrifically negative, but mostly they died down with a little time. However, all of those journalistic efforts had to take their information from the Washington Blade article (a publication for gay and lesbian news), because at that time and for some time afterward, Ray had only agreed to that one series of interviews (with Joey DiGuglielmo).
But back to Jennifer's announcement...Like Ray, Jennifer had decided several years ago that she'd had enough of the Christian music tour route, and she dropped out. According the the article, there were several reasons, but at no time does she say she was ashamed of her sexual orientation.
"That was a straw [in my decision], but there were many straws on the camel's back at the time. I'm certainly in a same-sex relationship now, but when I suspended my work, that wasn't even really a factor. I had some difficult decisions to make and what that meant for my life and deciding to invest in a same-sex relationship, but it would be completely unfair to say that's why I left music."
Jennifer was asked about "struggling" with same-sex attraction, and I was struck by how the question was couched. The interviewer, over and over, seemed determined to draw from Jennifer some kind of remorse for simply following her heart. Jennifer candidly said that there are many other issues that she's struggled with:
"It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a "struggle." The struggle I've had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I've been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I've always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it's difficult for me to say that I've struggled within myself, because I haven't. I've struggled with other people. I've struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself."
Isn't that a graceful reply? I thought so. Jennifer made no apology for simply following her goal to live truthfully.
Throughout the interview, or at least with the questions that were shared, Jennifer continually answered with genuine replies. I loved it when she said, "I'm just a normal human being who's dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I'm doing that as best as I can." Isn't that what most people want? Or, at least a majority of those spiritual folks who follow Jesus?
Jennifer isn't trying to lead a brigade of activists, or to try to debate theology. Just like Ray, she needed to live her life honestly. Fortunately, she had not married a straight spouse, which would have gone against her God-created and natural desires. Jennifer is now able to be forthcoming about her sexual orientation. While still being private about her partner, she acknowledges that she has someone to whom she is committed. Thankfully, she is building an honest relationship with the person she loves. Unlike other talented Christian artists who are closeted and gay, she won't have to hide or deny ANYTHING about her sexual orientation.
Personally, I want to commend Jennifer, and I wish her all the best. A question that is often asked of someone who appears to have "changed" (although they really haven't) is, "Are you happy?" Jennifer replied: "I'm the happiest I've ever been."
As I've googled and tried to write this blog in the past 24 hours, there have erupted a great number of criticisms of Jennifer as well as Ray. Along with the comments, a whole new round of people are finding out and seem to like bashing Ray. I've even had a slew of new hate mail, and it seems to be the worst of the worst.