Georgia Voice: You have been facing some harsh interviews with fundamentalist evangelicals who are trying to “bring you back home” or warn your former fans not to follow your career now that your music is secular. When you were on Larry King Live with Bob Botsford, the pastor that they got up there to address your “sin,” you were so gracious in the way that you put him in his place by asking him why you all weren’t there discussing his sin instead. It had the Internet buzzing and many fundamental evangelicals wondering how they could make sure that a gay person never made such good sense again – it was wonderful. How do you prepare for these interviews?
Jennifer Knapp: I didn’t even know that Larry King show would be a panel situation until late the night before. My responses in these interviews are just reflective of the amount of time that I’ve spent considering my own faith. I’ve had seven years out of the public eye to consider these questions. I was just living my life in Australia considering who I was before God. It’s been helpful for me to take that time to become confident in who I am.
One of the biggest problems for (the fundamentalist Christian community) is that I’m unapologetic. I think that they would be fine if I just admitted that I had homosexual feelings as opposed to the fact that I’m saying “Yes, I’m a homosexual and I still have my faith.” That particular pastor — his accusation towards me was that I am justifying my homosexuality rather than me openly talking about my journey and how I got to that point of understanding. I don’t and won’t justify myself or my faith.
When someone like you or Ray Boltz comes out of the closet as Christian singers, what is the response from the fan base that you had and from the Christian community and media?
It’s been both positive and negative. Reconnecting with my fan base is just part of my journey. Many of those fans are going through their own journey right now about deciding whether or not they are going to be a fan because I’m gay.
The positive aspect is that a lot of those fans are just happy that I am making some really great music and my sexuality isn’t a factor for them. Then, there is a majority of them that have either been through this or have a friend or family that is gay and they are expressing joy that I am going through this process and surviving it.
On the negative side, there has definitely been a concerted effort by certain members of the Christian community and the press writing treatises and argumentations of why I shouldn’t be supported in any manner whatsoever. It’s like they want to use me as an example of how homosexuality and Christianity are incongruous — like oil and water. Nobody who writes a blog saying that I’m going to hell is calling me for an interview, though.
I am sure that there are those in the LGBT community who had never heard of you before you came out but are now interested to see what you’re all about. Have you seen a change in your audience now that you’re out?
Yes. I have my diehard fans that were with me in the beginning. A lot of those are still coming. Then, there are new fans that just show up to see what’s going on. It’s so exciting to see a broader, more diverse audience. I have the tie-wearing evangelical Christian sitting there next to an openly queer couple. That’s the joy for me — to find that commonality between us and share that thing that we love — music.
Top photo: After making her name in the Christian music scene, Jennifer Knapp returns from a nine-year hiatus and is now an out lesbian. (by Eye Photography)