British-born Christian rock singer and religious commentator Vicky Beeching, who has a large audience in the U.S., has come out as a lesbian.
Beeching, 35, came out in an interview published Wednesday in the U.K.’s Independent. Reporter Patrick Strudwick describes a meeting with her in which she has handed him a note.
“‘I’m gay,’ she says, confirming what is written,” Strudwick reports. “She has never said this publicly before — a handful of people in her private life know. She has only just told one her closest friends, Katherine, and Katherine’s father, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Strudwick speculates that Beeching may help liberalize Anglicanism; the archbishop of Canterbury is head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. The U.S. branch of the communion, the Episcopal Church, is more accepting of LGBT people than member churches in the U.K. and some other nations.
He also predicts, “She will be crucified. Boycotts of her music are already in place since Beeching decided to speak up for same-sex marriage over a year ago. Hatred has been flung at her online ever since: ‘You’ve been deceived by the devil,’ is a typical, charming comment.”
Beeching, who was brought up in a Pentecostal church and then joined the evangelical branch of the Church of England, says she has been attracted to the same sex since she was a child and that she went through an exorcism at a Christian camp as a teen, an experience she describes as “degrading.” This, not surprisingly, failed to change her orientation, so she became a workaholic, focusing entirely on her music, which made her a star of the Christian rock scene.
Five years ago, she had a life-changing experience. She was diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease called linear scleroderma morphea, which turns the body’s soft tissues into scar tissue. Shortly into a course of treatment that would last 18 months, she made a vow to come out by age 35.
“I looked at my arm with the chemotherapy needle poking out, I looked at my life, and thought, ‘I have to come to terms with who I am.’ … Thirty-five is half a life. I can’t lose the other half. I’ve lost so much living as a shadow of a person.”
Last Easter, she came out to her parents, with whom she has agreed to disagree about homosexuality. Now the singer, who says she has never had a romantic relationship and didn’t meet an openly gay person until she was 30, has vowed to help change the view of homosexuality held by her church and many other Christian bodies.
“The Church’s teaching was the reason that I lived in so much shame and isolation and pain for all those years,” she tells Strudwick. “But rather than abandon it and say it’s broken, I want to be part of the change.”
“What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love,” she adds. “I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.”
Watch a performance by Beeching below.