Christian music star Vicky Beeching is creating shockwaves this week, not for proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God in her music, but for coming out of the closet to proclaim she’s a lesbian.
“I’m gay,” says the 35-year-old Brit, who has soared to popularity in America’s Bible Belt. “What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. I feel certain God loves me just the way I am.”
Her public declaration comes on the heels of her support for same-sex marriage over a year ago, prompting some to boycott her music.
Typical online comments that have followed include “You’ve been deceived by the devil.”
Beeching’s struggles started as a child, when she learned how to feel about homosexuality at church with her conservative Christian parents.
“It was in children’s picture books about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – hailstones of fire raining down on these cities known for the ‘abomination’ of homosexuality,” Beeching told the Independent. “It was viewed as a terrible evil, the cause of the floods. I don’t think that my parents brought it up – it was just a given.”
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4 News, Beeching said: “I’ve always kept a diary since I was really little, and I’ve noticed looking back at my diaries that they all had ‘Private,’ ‘Keep out,’ ‘Top secret’ written on them. It’s quite painful, actually, to see the things I was struggling with and just how fractured I was and the constant apologies I would make to God.
“When I was 13, I was just beside myself, sobbing into my bedroom carpet, saying to God, ‘You know, You’ve got to take my life away. I can’t actually handle this. Like I can’t be Christian and gay. These things don’t work in my family, in my universe, in my world.”
Watch Vicky Beeching go public with her lesbianism on Britain’s Channel 4:
As a young teen, she tried curing her homosexuality, confessing to a Catholic priest, who asked God to forgive her, though it didn’t change her attraction toward females.
“I felt there was something really wrong with me,” she said. “That maybe I was so sinful and awful I couldn’t be healed.”
Then at age 16 while at Christian summer camp, she submitted herself to an exorcism. It was during a sermon that she approached the altar and confessed she wanted to be free of same-sex attractions.
“I remember sitting in my seat at this big conference, with about 4,000 people,” she recalled. “Someone had preached about how God could set you free from anything, and I was desperate, I thought, ‘I have to deal with this, it’s breaking me.’ They invited us to the front.”
“The walk felt like 10 years. The music was very loud. At the altar one of the prayer team said, ‘What would you like us to pray for you about?’ I said, ‘It’s really hard for me to say this but I am attracted to people of the same sex and I’ve been told God hates that and I’m so ashamed and I need Him to take it away because I can’t keep living like this. I’m so sad and depressed, I can’t carry on.'”
“I remember lots of people placing their hands on my shoulders and back and front,” she told the Independent. “Praying in tongues really loudly and then shouting things: ‘We command Satan to let you go! Cast these devils out of you! We speak to you demon of homosexuality: let her go!’ People around me were wailing and screaming. It was really frightening. I was already feeling so vulnerable, it was horrible to think, ‘Am I controlled by demons?'”
It was “degrading” and “humiliating,” Beeching said, adding it was not successful.
Watch Vicky Beeching singing “Breath of Life”:
Beeching’s songwriting took her to Nashville, Tennessee, at age 23, where she spent the next six years, with countless unrequited loves for straight female friends.
“That was one of the hardest parts – to have your heart crushed so many times you wonder whether it actually has any life left in it,” she told the Independent. “It’s incredibly painful. I just wanted a soul mate.”
The internal pressure of hiding her sexual identity actually prompted her own body to start attacking itself.
“I was blow-drying my hair and looked in the mirror and noticed this white line down my forehead.” The scar grew and became “really noticeable – inflamed and red.”
When she went to the doctor’s office, “They said, ‘You need to sit down. This is really serious. It’s an auto-immune disease called linear scleroderma morphea, and a form of the disease called coup de sabre.’ It’s a degenerative condition where soft tissue turns to scarring. At that point they didn’t know if it was just localized or whether it would affect my whole body.”
The condition, in worst-case scenarios, can see the whole body turn to scar tissue, including internal organs. It can also cause epilepsy, blackouts, and death.
Beeching scoured the Internet for pictures of those who suffer from the condition to see that some lose parts of their face.
“I vomited,” she said. “The doctor here said, ‘In our experience there will always be one thing you can name that is a point of stress, of deep trauma in your life, that triggers this.’ For me there was no question: it was the stress of my sexuality.”
Several weeks later while hospitalized, Beeching made a vow.
“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.'”
She made a new goal, to go public with her lesbianism by age 35.
“Thirty-five is half a life,” she says. “I can’t lose the other half. I’ve lost so much living as a shadow of a person.”
Beeching finally told her parents she was homosexual at Easter this year.
“I was terrified but they reacted really well. They said, ‘We’re so sorry that you had to go through this alone.'”
While her parents still don’t approve of homosexuality, they have agreed to disagree amicably.
“It’s a picture of what is possible, even when you don’t agree, that love can supersede everything,” Beeching told the Independent, as she hopes the Church of England can one day follow suit.
“What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. 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. When I think of myself at 13, sobbing into that carpet, I just want to help anyone in that situation to not have to go through what I did, to show that instead, you can be yourself – a person of integrity.”