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And Topping iTunes’ Christian Music Charts Is—Drum Roll—Drag Queen Flamy Grant!

Christian Music Charts

“These are truly the last days,” groused worship leader and Christian music icon, Sean Feucht, on social media.

The subject of his ire: the collaboration of contemporary Christian music (CCM) artist, Derek Webb and drag queen Flamy Grant.

Flamy Grant pushed back: “Baby, we’re just getting started. (blowing kiss emoji)”

And lo—a miracle! Thanks to the exposure on social media generated by the Sean Feucht attack plus the quality of the album itself, Flamy Grant’s “Bible Belt Baby” soared to No. 1 on the iTunes Christian albums chart, making the drag queen the first to conquer that hallowed ground in the music industry.

Raised in Appalachia, the former Matthew Blake Lovegood wrote a song about Jesus at age nine. As a Bible Belt Baby in rural North Carolina the youngster got heavy doses of God, guilt and patriarchy through the Plymouth Brethren, a clergy-free Christian movement, the services which Lovegood described as an hourlong lesson in shame.

“I caught on pretty quickly that my queerness was going to be a thing that disqualified me from the kingdom of heaven,” said Lovegood. “And so I worked extra hard to make up for it right and be the best Christian I could, live into all the expectations that were set out before me.”

Growing up gay, Christian and musical made for an interesting to-do list. Devouring Amy Grant records while learning guitar and co-founding a Christian band, Eco Chamber, while at the same time struggling to overcome what Romans 1 condemned as “vile passions” and “a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting,” the young artist tried—really tried—to be straight. Lovegood first spoke to friends, then tried Exodus International—the one-time, now-gone go-to organization of the ex-gay movement—complete with group therapy sessions and reading assignments—all to no avail.

Years passed but the queerness did not. Now a worship leader and church planter in San Diego, Lovegood dissected the so-called “clobber passages”—Scripture verses employed by certain Christians as proofs that being gay is an abomination, incompatible with Christianity.

“Finally, in 2010 I was like, I am gay and that’s not going to change. I know that because I’ve put every possible, sincerest effort into making that happen. I still feel like I have a relationship with God … and I don’t think the Bible is telling us that we can’t be gay.”

That realization spelled the end of Lovegood’s career as a church leader—at least of that church. Men who date men were simply not qualified to lead the flock.

But the die had been cast and there was no turning back. Over the next seven years “Flamy Grant” grew, evolved, and became for Lovegood “me connecting with that kid version of myself who wanted to play with my mom’s makeup and got in trouble for it.”

As “Flamy Grant,” Lovegood was invited to deliver a sermon at a more open and less creed-centered church. A TikTok video, wherein Flamy practiced a brief homily on self-acceptance made in preparation for the sermon went viral.

“Flamy is talking about love, acceptance, you are whole, you are welcome, you deserve to be here,” said Chris Lovegood, Matthew’s spouse. “I think a lot of people that have been burned by the Christian faith … are seeing themselves in Flamy and saying, oh, I can have faith and still be open and welcoming.”

Matthew Lovegood is no longer a church-going Christian, identifying now as neither: “I gave myself so fully and so intently to church the first 40 years of my life, I want to do something different the next half.”

That that second half involves Flamy Grant’s music regarded as CCM at its core speaks to its subject matter and heart—which are Christian-themed with songs in the “Bible Belt Baby” album covering such matters as growing up Christian, women heroes of the Bible and homage to the great Amy Grant.

“You sent me away, but I was never alone. You were afraid that there was not enough, but you can’t run out of love,” Flamy Grant sings in the gospel-styled “Good Day,” the album’s final cut.

To the question, “Why—after all the angst and struggle, after all the rejection and difficulty—why bother tackling the Christian music genre?”—Lovegood’s answer is all about other queer kids going through the same thing, and simply being present, being seen. “I want to push back, and be more of a prophetic voice, in the biblical sense — a member of the community who is speaking out about the ills and the wrongs of the community, and asking us to consider, and change, and love bigger, love harder, love more.”

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