So tonight I went and saw Jennifer Knapp and Derek Webb in concert at the Bluebird Theater here in Denver. I had been planning to go to this show anyway, having spent my late teens and early twenties listening to Jennifer Knapp’s music as well as Derek Webb’s when he was in the band Caedmon’s Call. Jennifer Knapp disappeared from the music scene back in 2003 at the height of her popularity with pretty much no explanation for her fans. She went silent for the most part and people were left to come up with their own guesses as to why.
Pretty much from the start it was rumored that Jennifer Knapp was a lesbian, people claiming inside knowledge from her tours, etc. I never doubted this, and as time went on I started to become more and more sure it was likely the truth. Then, a few months ago Jennifer Knapp popped back up. She became active on Twitter, her web site was once again active, and she announced a new record and a tour.
Then the big news, 3 days ago she announced to The Advocate, Christianity Today, and Reuters that she has been in a same-sex relationship for 8 years. She did further qualify that this was not the reason she left music, but that her recording/touring schedule had become too draining. After hearing this news and knowing how violently hateful and disturbingly cruel the Christian community can be to one of it’s own coming out as gay, I knew more than ever that going to her show was more important than ever. I imagine there were quite a few ticket returns after the news broke.
The show itself was fantastic. The opening act, Amy Courts, hinted at the what had been going on this week and expressed her sincere support of Jennifer. The big question for me was if Derek Webb was also supportive; I went through High School listening to his Contemporary Christian music and just wasn’t sure how this was being handled within the tour.
He came through in a big way. Here are some of the lyrics from songs on his latest album Stockholm Syndrome:
You say always treat people like you’d like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
About what you believe
Make you sound like a freak….
….If I can see what’s in your heart
By what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight
Is all it’s about
It looks like being hated
For all the wrong things
Like chasing the wind
While the pendulum swings
– What Matters More
Not surprisingly Derek’s record label felt that song would be a little too much for his Christian audience to handle and excluded it from all retail releases of the album. It is available for free on his Web site.
Early on in his set he began to talk about his disgust and very strong negative feelings toward Fred Phelps (you know, the God Hates Fags guy that pickets pretty much everything) and played a song he wrote about Fred Phelps:
How could you do this to me
How could you tell me you love me when you hate me
You know I love you honey
But I’ll bleed you dry with money
I’ll talk where I know you can hear
‘Cause freddie can’t you see
Brother, you’re the one who’s queer
The stone’s been rolled away
And you’re picketing my grave for loving the things you hate
But why do you seek the living among the dead
How could you do this to me
How could you tell them you love me when you hate me
So, I don’t know exactly where Derek Webb falls theologically (nor does it change my life), but I was thrilled that Jennifer Knapp was surrounded by such great people.
Jennifer didn’t directly address her coming out, but it was eluded to in passing and the situation is felt very heavily in the songs of her new album. Her album comes out on May 11, and I strongly encourage anyone and everyone to check it out. While you’re waiting, visit her website and listen to the previews. She’s a very talented artist and more than deserving of our support.
I realize this post may not mean anything to the majority of you that read my blog, but to those of you who know my background, you know what this situation means to me. Jennifer Knapp was one of a few reassuring voices during some terribly frightening times in my life; her music comforted me and gave me strength. It is my hope that her recent courage and show of strength serve to reassure all of the terrified, confused GLBT youth in Christian homes who are out there wondering what is wrong with them. Nothing is wrong, absolutely nothing.