“I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me.”
I grew up in a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Canby. It’s located about 25 miles south of Portland, Oregon, and considering its small size—a few elementary schools, one middle school and one high school at the time—there were a ton of churches. I didn’t go to any of them, and neither did most of my friends, but it felt like everyone else did.
This means I grew hearing a lot of pop Christian rock without ever having to seek it out. I couldn’t tell you the names of most of the acts, but the big ones were impossible to avoid. I knew Amy Grant and Switchfoot and Toby Mac and P.O.D. and Reliant K and DC Talk. I also knew about Everyday Sunday, which made it pretty surprising and incredibly heartening to hear that the band’s lead singer, Trey Pearson, came out as gay in a letter to his fans just a few days ago.
“I know I have a long way to go,” Pearson wrote. “But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”
Pearson, who is 35, had been living in the closet his entire life, and was certain he could manufacture the straight, faithful life he so desired. He married a woman and had two children with her, but in an interview with the Religious News Service, which accompanied his coming out letter, Pearson explained that he could not be a suitable partner to his wife or father to his kids while living with such a massive secret. So after seeking out guidance from friends and leaders in his Christian community and doing a lot of reflection, Pearson at last realized, “There is absolutely no conflict with accepting who I am and following Jesus. God wants me to be healthy, authentic, whole, integrated and my truest self.”
The singer acknowledges that his career might be over after this revelation, or it might take a huge hit, at the very least. The Religious News writer who interviewed Pearson, Jonathan Merritt, has been writing for a few years now about shifting sentiment among faith communities concerning LGBT issues. He puts Pearson’s disclosure in the context of a “growing movement” of top Christian musicians who’ve come out in the past decade. But while artists like Jennifer Knapp and Ray Boltz coming out has certainly helped promote a more progressive view of sexuality, it’s also resulted in their music being pulled from Churches and Christian radio stations.
For his part, Pearson says he will continue making music and plans to release a new single later this year. He also wants to become a vocal part of the “gay Christian movement” he sees gaining momentum. But for now, he can just revel in this moment of massive personal triumph. Tomorrow can be for inspiring the next generation of Christian gays to live their truths a lot earlier in life than he did.
“In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me,” Pearson writes near the end of his letter. “It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people. This is a part of who I am.”