Interview: Jennifer Knapp

As the media storm dies down, the now out lesbian Christian music artist focuses on her new release and her many devoted fans.

Christian music star Jennifer Knapp made a big impact last month when she surprisingly revealed that she is a lesbian. After a seven-year hiatus from her career, the Grammy nominated, Dove Award winning artist emerged back on the music scene with a new album (appropriately titled, “Letting Go”), a new tour, and a far different perspective on her public life. Because Knapp’s specific style of music and fan base is not typically supportive of the gay and lesbian community, the announcement that one of their own was a lesbian created a media frenzy – one that the private, Kansas-born musician has begrudgingly accepted as a part of the process. She has appeared on Larry King and done interviews with large and mainstream publications, but it has all been with the goal of getting her music back out there for her fans, and for herself. Jennifer won’t be the next big out and proud LGBT advocate, but she has certainly helped change perceptions about religion and sexuality. We recently caught up with Knapp to see how she’s handling all of the recent attention, discuss her new release, and get her thoughts on the many things that she and Chely Wright have in common these days.

 

Cherry Grrl (CG): It has now been around a month since you came out. How have things been for you since the big announcement?

 

Jennifer Knapp (JK): Well, I’ve been gay for a lot longer than a month, so really it’s more about getting into the swing of a public life again with the added volume of media that wants to focus on my sexuality. But overall, it’s been great getting the music out on the streets. Re-emerging with new music has been the high note of it all, reconnecting with my fans and celebrating at live shows have been the overwhelming highlights.

CG: Do you have any regrets in coming out?

JK: No

CG: What motivated you to do it?

JK: Simply put, it was a decision I made out of respect to the history I have within the Christian music industry. I understand that there are some who would prefer to not support a gay artist. As I’m not living a secret life, it seemed the honest thing to do.

CG: As far as you can tell, what has been the general reaction of your fans?

JK: If anything, I would say that I’ve experienced overwhelming appreciation for transparency. Mostly, we’re all just glad to be getting back to sharing in the music again.

CG: I read that you don’t really align yourself with the “lesbian” label. Is that accurate?

JK: It’s just a reflection that I don’t get up everyday and think “I am a lesbian.” I live my life, I am peaceful within in it. I’ve been living life quite privately for some time now, and have had little concern or contact with the labels that define my life. If it makes others comfortable to call me a lesbian, it’s fine. If the shoe fits…

CG: You have been with your girlfriend for 8 years now. Prior to that relationship, what was your dating life like? How long have you known that you were interested in dating women?

JK: 10 years of celibacy while being in the Christian music industry pretty much put a damper on any thoughts of ‘dating.” Dating in general is something that I never did very well anyway. I just happened to meet someone who I fell in love with, so I got to skip all the social challenges of finding a partner.

CG: Obviously your discussions about your sexuality have been receiving so much attention because you are a Christian music singer. What is your response when people tell you that homosexuality is a sin?

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    I was flipping through the channel on day and saw that Knapp was on Larry King and then I saw the headline!! I did not have the sound up and thought for a moment that it was a joke. . . don’t know why but I did. I listened and watched the rest of the interview taking in the info from both sides and I have to say that I can understand where Ms. Knapp is coming from. I have been in church my whole life , , choir, praise leader, singing in differant churches . . .the whole 9 yards. I did not intend on it but I met and feel in love with the woman who I am currently with (love at first sight lol) and b/c of that it “forced” me to come out to my friends and family. I do not have the honor of having my parents support me or my partner and the church has abandoned me. I lost myself for about 5 years. I did not write, sing . . nothing. Just was an empty shell . . an imposter of my former self. When “Letting Go” was released that very day I bought it. Not b/c she is living and loving with a woman but b/c I have always loved her music, the honesty, humbleness, her understanding of the human man . . .the human condition . . . etc. I listened to “On Love” wrote the lyrics down, learned it the first day before I listened to anything else. I noticed as I listened to the c.d. she traveled the same road that I had. She went through the same doubts, the struggles of the faith that I had (still do sometimes) Each song was a progression of where I was, and where I am headed. It is not easy coming out either way and it is a choice . . the choice is to stay hidden in the closet or be true to you and just be you.
    Lastly, “Letting Go” is honesty in it’s rarest form . .. it is brutal, unabashed, absolute transparency.
    Because of Knapp . . .she put to paper and to song what I could not. . . .and for the first time in 5 years I sing and I have started writing again.

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