Christian music star Jennifer Knapp says she is a lesbian
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A rising star on the Christian music scene is returning to the public eye with a new identity after a mysterious seven-year absence spent mostly on the other side of the world.
Jennifer Knapp is not only coming out with a new album, she is also "coming out," a term the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter considers "very bizarre" as she nervously relaunches her career.
The 36-year-old Kansas native, who dated men during her college days, is braced for a backlash from religious fans who faithfully shot down whispered rumors about her sexuality over the years. On the other hand, she said in a recent interview with Reuters, "I'm definitely getting a lot more friendly winks from the girls (at her concerts) than I have in the past!"
No other singer of Knapp's renown in the Christian music genre is openly gay. In the past, the industry looked dimly on those who deviated from the straight and narrow. Radio stations and retailers quickly dropped Sandi Patty and Michael English after they admitted to (separate) extra-marital affairs during the 1990s. Amy Grant was also blacklisted when she went through a divorce later that decade. All have since been forgiven to varying degrees.
Knapp is taking a preemptive stand anyway. She has recorded a mainstream album, and is not specifically targeting Christian radio stations and retailers.
"I just wouldn't find it respectful at all to say, 'Hey, this is something that you want in your store next to your Jesus statue,'" she said. "It would just be disingenuous to try and convince someone that they needed to do that."
BORN AGAIN, AGAIN?
Still, Knapp considers herself a "person of faith" and recoils at the suggestion that she is turning her back on the church, an accusation that dogged the likes of Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin when they left gospel for pop stardom. Continued...