Few industries may be as cutthroat as the Christian music industry, where image is everything. Having the wrong theology, or failure to present as the right “type” of Christian, could cost musicians their career. Even fellow musicians that were once considered friends will distance from you, at risk of tainting their own images.
Few people know these consequences like Trey Pearson, a Christian artist who founded the band Everyday Sunday. After he came out as gay, he was basically “cancelled” by labels and fans alike. (In 2016, we wrote about Pearson after he was slated to perform in a Christian music festival… only to get pulled from the lineup after 11 members of the 14-person all-volunteer production team threatened to walk out.)
Pearson recently revealed the dark side of the Christian music world in a disturbing Facebook post:
I know there are artists in the Christian music industry that are closeted, and some who are friends of mine. I love them so much. And I’m also pissed off. There is a dark cloud over the Christian music industry, and several things anger me about all of this…
1. People who work with them and don’t have a relationship with me anymore know they are gay or convince themselves that they struggle with “same-sex attraction”, but as long as they don’t say those words and they all pretend they’re not, they work together and they can love that the closeted person.
2. The Christian music industry thrives in hiding things that are supposedly wrong and make it all taboo. If one of these people would come out it could change countless lives & possibly force the Christian music industry to change or crumble. Either one would be a positive step forward.
3. People I used to be close to say they love me and I may even get a text back from some of them sometimes if I reach out. Some of the big Christian rockstars that were super close friends of mine won’t even talk to me anymore (cough cough Jeremy Camp). So much Christian love.
4. Yes, there are a decent amount of people in the Christian music industry that don’t think it’s a sin to be gay, or they’re baptist, and think it’s a sin, but all is forgiven and just go with grace for everyone. None of these people speak up because it will ruin their career.
5. If closeted Christian rockstars came out and everyone behind the scenes that really support it would speak up for the LGBT community, the whole gross world of the Christian music industry could change. But it thrives in fear, so it doesn’t.
6. It’s tough watching people cheer on those people about how faithful and good God is, about loving like Christ, and then seeing the difference of how they treat people who are still in the closet and what happens when you decide to be healthy. Seeing how it is actually about loving those staying in the tribe and it’s not about actually loving people.
I love seeing the world change, but damn, we have a long way to go.
Pearson is hardly the industry’s only victim. Singers Vicky Beeching and Jennifer Knapp were similarly punished when they came out. Singer Lauren Daigle was chastised by multiple Christian news outlets for not being anti-gay enough when she appeared on Ellen DeGeneres‘ show and said she was simply called to “love others.” And rapper Lecrae came under fire for posting about his ancestors being slaves on the fourth of July (“You make everything a race issue lately instead of a Gospel issue,” said one commenter).
Perhaps this industry will start to change as more artists realize that maintaining a “perfect” image is as soul-crushing as it is impossible. If more artists spoke up, they may lose some fans… but they would also gain many new ones who prefer authenticity and performers using large platforms for good.
(Image via Facebook)