Spreading God’s love for all

By |2006-07-06T09:00:00-04:00July 6th, 2006|Entertainment|

Gospel singer-songwriter Shawn Thomas used to believe a correlation existed between a gay person and a child molester.
“I knew that wasn’t me,” Thomas says from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla. “So I thought I wasn’t gay.”
But his small town, where there was only one high school, just didn’t talk about it. “It took me a while to figure it all out,” he says. “Some of it was a lack of reference.”
Thomas, 37, didn’t come out until age 25 and, although he thought the process went smooth, he realized later that his parents were having difficulties dealing.
“We’re still struggling with it – especially my mom and I,” he says. “I don’t feel that they’re condemning me. I think it’s just different when it’s their son. … I haven’t heard that I’m going to hell or anything like that from them.”
While coming out, Thomas decided to solve, through professional assistance, another problem of his: an eating disorder. “I think some of it was desires of how you want to look, of how you want to appear, and then it turns into, much like other addictions, it turns into a way of coping with stress and difficulties in your life,” he says.
Confessing his homosexuality to friends and family members was one of those difficulties. “I was scared, and I was more worried about what people were going to think and what life was going to be like more than I was worried about God hating me,” he says.
Even as a child, Thomas never felt a sense of damnation like others who fear losing God’s love.
“I hear people talk about trying to come to terms with it. For some reason even as a kid I never felt condemned, like someone was coming down on me or God was going to hate me,” Thomas says. “In fact, I used to pray to God to help me understand.”
Thomas reveals his struggle in his music and also offers a silver lining in that we may be different, but we’re all God’s creatures. “I know from meeting other people that … they really feel that God hates them,” he says. “I don’t believe that’s what God is about. I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin.”
His message extends to all outsiders. “Even people who aren’t gay have suffered some type of Bible abuse where they feel that they are not worthy or that they are worthless,” he says. “I don’t believe that’s true. That’s definitely behind the energy of a lot of the songs that I write.”
In churches around the U.S., some which are gay affirming and others that aren’t, Thomas spreads the word through music about his relationship with God and his belief in “a grace filled God and a God of love and acceptance for everyone.”
In school, Thomas performed musical theater and received a degree in music. With a pastor father and a musician mother, pursing gospel music seemed like an obvious career path for Thomas.
But, much like his homosexuality, his parents weren’t so welcoming of his decision.
“They’re supportive in the sense that they want me to be successful,” he says. “But I think probably they would’ve wished I did something more stable in their minds.”
Still, with a 2006 nomination from OutMusic and a new record due out in early fall, music is a innate ambition for Thomas – and his parents are finally coming around. “It’s real natural for me,” he says. “The longer I’ve been in it, the more comfortable they’re getting and the less worried.”
In 1999, Thomas created Aaron’s Rainbow Project, named after his middle name, to publish his own songs. It’s now the host ministry organization for him, as well as some of his students at ARP and other independent artists.
Until two years ago, Thomas seriously dated a man for three years who also shared his passion for music ministry. During their relationship, Thomas considered marriage, but not in the traditional heterosexual way.
“Who cares what it’s called as long as we have the same rights?” he says. “I didn’t understand what the big deal was. I thought, ‘Who cares if it’s called a civil union or whatever.'”
After listening to a scripture reading at church that mentioned marriage, he changed his mind.
“I realized that if I accepted a definition of marriage that did not include me then that script was no longer talking about me,” Thomas says. “And so that was when I realized this has to be the same thing. That when God talks about marriage or a union between two people or those types of things, that includes everyone.”

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
As editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBTQ wire service, Chris Azzopardi has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, GQ, Vanity Fair and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.