Religion is not a topic I talk about with any authority or frequency. I grew up in a liberal household, science was our champion. Church happened sometimes at Christmas, but basically just for the music as midnight mass. I don’t believe you need religion to teach you right from wrong, but I understand the inclination to feel faith in something larger than yourself. It’s the application of faith by some that bothers me so. They use it as a weapon to deny, denigrate and dominate others. And I have a big, big problem with that.
So to see someone who has so clearly thought long and hard about what it means to be a person of a faith in a faith that does not necessarily have faith in her is both fascinating and inspiring. Jennifer has sold a million albums, won a Dove award and has been nominated for a Grammy. Apparently there had always been rumors throughout her career that she was a lesbian. But then in 2002 she left music, for seven years. And now she is back with interviews in The Advocate and Christianity Today (that’s not a combo you see every day, eh?), where she comes out and talks about her long-term relationship with her girlfriend. [Also, look for her interview in the coming days with Heather Hogan at AfterEllen.com.]
Having heard her new album, “Letting Go” (available May 11), I can tell you that it is very gay. Not Katy Perry gay, but gay-gay. There is nothing coquettish or teasing about her words. They are straight-forward, open. They speak of a love that is finally now speaking its name. They’re freeing. They’re lovely. Have I mentioned that they’re so very gay?
For those unfamiliar with her work, she sounds a bit like a younger Melissa Etheridge. She is also a Kansas gal with a big booming voice, deep in that way that tends to weaken gay gals’ knees. She is a classic singer-songwriter type who would fit seamlessly into a Lilith Fair lineup, which she just so happens to be doing this summer. Her new album is not explicitly Christian, though that is very firmly her background and her fanbase. So for her to come out is – to get all Joe Biden on the situation – a Big Fucking Deal.
And now we wait and see how it all turns out. I have to say, I’m not too optimistic that everyone will embrace her. I went to find her music on YouTube and the first video that came up was titled “Jennifer Knapp symbolizes hell-bound Christianity.” It went on to explain how there is no such thing as a gay Christian. You know, kind of like a unicorn – a gay unicorn. P.S. Don’t read the comments on some of her videos. They’ll just make your head explode. At times it seems that the chasm between us and those who think we are abominations will never be bridged. It only grows deeper and darker. The will is just not there, at least from their side. But perhaps people who loved Jennifer then will realize that she is the same Jennifer now. Just happier. Honest. Loved.
Still even if those who once flocked to her now turn their backs, she should certainly find a warm and welcoming home among her gay fans – the old ones and what I suspect will be many more new ones. I think that she will discover that we, too, are a faithful lot. Once we love you, we’ll love you forever. And your cat. Hey, we’re being honest here.
A few live sampling:
See what I was saying? She is so gay. So gay.