Christian music singer, Jennifer Knapp, announces she is gay

I just read where Christian music singer, Jennifer Knapp, has announced she is a lesbian.

Jennifer Knapp is just the way she is and doesn’t care who knows it.

The former Christian music singer, whose last album “Way I Am” was released in 2001, has come out as a lesbian, CNN reports.

The Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter vanished from the music scene seven years ago amidst rumors – which now turn out to be true – that she was gay.

Good for her, and I hope her journey is smoother because of the road paved by those like Marsha Stevens-Pino. Marsha’s web site is here and she has actually visited our church, UCC Community of Hope, and the exile she related to our congregation, at the hands of those who claim to be Christian, was shameful. Undeterred, Marsha still performs her incredible music and ministers to the LGBT and affirming Christian community.

In The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music, editor Mark Powell referred to the incident as “Contemporary Christian Music’s first official scandal”. Christian Century Magazine’s Mark Allan Powell in a 1999 article stated that after coming out of the closet, Stevens-Pino became “conservative Christianity’s worst nightmare – a Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, God-fearing lesbian Christian.”[1]

After her divorce and subsequent vilification by the Christian music industry, Stevens-Pino formed her own music ministry, BALM (Born Again Lesbian Music) in the mid-1980s. It was at that time that Stevens-Pino began ministering within the predominanty gay and lesbian Metropolitan Community Church as well as other, independent Christian-Gay congregations not affiliated with MCC. The transition from being a celebrity within evangelical Christianity to being an open lesbian was not easy for Stevens-Pino. Along with losing custody of her young children after her divorce, Stevens-Pino reports that more than once she has received by mail ripped out and torn up hymnal and songbook pages upon which was printed, For Those Tears I Died.

During a Gaither Homecoming Concert in Phoenix, Arizona in 2002, singer/musician/songwriter Bill Gaither acknowledged Marsha’s presence in the audience along with her significant contribution to early Contemporary Christian music. When a backstage photo showing Stevens, Pino, Gaither, and Mark Lowry arm-on-arm circulated on the internet following the concert, a large backlash from conservative, fundamentalist, and evangelical Christians ensued. The controversy caused Gaither to issue a press release which included the statement, “someone snapped a photograph of the four of us, a picture Marsha has exploited on her Web site ever since.” In response to Gaither’s press statement regarding the incident, MCC moderator, Reverend Nancy L. Wilson, released a rebuttal statement in defense of Stevens-Pino.[2]

It will be interesting to see how far Christians have grown in regard to Jennifer Knapp since that shameful chapter with Marsha Stevens-Pino.

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