In 2013, when I interviewed Amy Grant, Christian music icon and one of my childhood idols, there was something she went out of her way to tell me that made our interview one of the most meaningful I’ve done over the last 10-plus years. That interview, her first LGBTQ+ press interview ever, ended up being what so many queer Christians hoped to hear, not just me.
At one point, Amy expressed her overall impression of my questions, which covered LGBTQ+ marriage, which was not yet legal, and whether she was concerned about Christians who might judge her for speaking with me on queer topics. “This is interesting because I have never done an interview where it feels every question is saying, ‘Tell me I’m OK,’” she said. She understood the assignment — it was me trying to understand how she reconciles her very public faith with the fact that so many LGBTQ+ people, including myself, admire her. It was then that she said, “Can I say one thing?”
Her closing quote was affirming for anyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community but has felt betrayed by religious homophobia, particularly from those in the Christian community. And it was a powerful coda.
“I know that the religious community has not been very welcoming, but I just want to stress that the journey of faith brings us into community, but it’s really about one relationship,” she said at the time. “The journey of faith is just being willing and open to have a relationship with God. And everybody is welcome. Everybody.”
Though, at the time, two years before the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, Grant may have been somewhat evasive in her answers, there was no denying she was speaking from an authentically honest place as an ally-in-training — I got the impression that she was learning how to be a visible one. That end-quote felt like she was reaching out her hand to our community, knowing full well that Christians would once again scorn her for her pro-love sentiment, which some did after our interview, of course.
Perhaps if she hadn’t fully grasped the significance of her speaking on LGBTQ+ issues as the biggest Christian music artist, she’d still be hesitant to speak openly about, say, hosting her lesbian niece’s wedding at her farm like she did in 2022, nearly 10 years after our conversation.
On a more personal level, I grew up Catholic and felt the sting of anti-gay sentiments from within the Catholic church during the years leading up to me coming out at 18, when I was just coming to terms with my identity as a gay person. Trying to reconcile my sexuality with dangerous religious homophobia sent me into a scary suicidal spiral, but Grant, through her soothing music, always felt like a welcoming place, so it was refreshing to know, years later when I interviewed her, that she was as much a safe place for queer people in real life as she has been in her music.
Shortly after our interview, I went to the same farm where her lesbian niece recently got married. Amy signed an issue of BTL with our interview featured on the cover, but even more special was meeting so many queer Grant fans (who knew?) who told me they appreciated our conversation. I realized that, at one point, they also needed to know from her, anyone, that they were indeed OK. One fan in particular, the wife of a preacher, shared with me that her husband actually recited parts of the interview to his congregation, with the reading having a strong emphasis on Amy’s “everybody is welcome” quote.
Over the years, I’ve seen that quote circulate as a meme in religious Facebook groups. Ten years later, I’m still grateful that what Amy said keeps reaching people who need to hear what I needed to hear as a gay teen who didn’t yet quite know, when it comes to practicing faith, it could be as simple as this: No one can tell you who to have a relationship with, even when that relationship is with God.