Vicky Beeching Is Gay, Hopes to Inspire Young LGBT Christians

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Vicky Beeching, a British Christian rock singer, theologian and commentator, came out as a lesbian in an interview published in The Independent. In the article, Beeching talks about her experience managing her attraction to women while establishing herself in the contemporary Christian rock scene.

If you, like me, don’t know anything about Christian rock music, let me give you some background: Vicky Beeching grew up in Canterbury, Kent, UK, where she began writing songs at an early age and leading worship in her teens. Her family was conservative Christian, at first Pentecostal then evangelical Church of England. She counts among her close friends the daughter of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She received a BA and a Masters in theology at Oxford University, spent over a decade in the States recording Christian music, then returned to the UK to pursue a doctoral degree at Durham University, focusing on social media (she was an early social media adopter and has over 50 thousand followers on Twitter) as well as the theology of human sexuality. Her Christian rock albums have reached gold status, and her songs are among the “25 Most Sung” in North American churches. She is a regular guest on TV and radio shows, and she’s a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Today program and the Chris Evans breakfast show. She was nominated for a 2014 Sanford St. Martin Award for her radio work.

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Throughout her life of worship, academia, and professional success, Beeching was haunted by her sexuality. At 12, she knew she was gay: “Realising that I was attracted to [other girls] was a horrible feeling. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. It became more and more of a struggle because I couldn’t tell anyone.” The secret drove her to isolate herself from others.

I increasingly began to feel like I was living behind an invisible wall. The inner secrecy of holding that inside was divorcing me from reality — I was living in my own head. Anybody I was in a friendship with, or anything I was doing in the church, was accompanied by an internal mantra: “What if they knew?” It felt like all of my relationships were built on this ice that would break if I stepped out on to it.

Beeching tried for years to “cure” herself. At 13 she went to confess to a Catholic priest, whose prayer of absolution did little to comfort her. At 16, she received an exorcism at a Christian youth camp. When her feelings remained the same, she “began to disconnect.” Music became her “one outlet.” What followed was an incredibly lonely and painful period that she tried to fill with work. She would “perform endlessly, ensuring every birthday and public holiday was booked up,” even if her performances went against her personal beliefs. In 2008 Beeching was booked at mega-churches all over California for events that supported Prop 8. She felt compelled to stay silent. “I would find myself at these events that were anti-equal-marriage rallies, but I was only booked to sing so there was no way I could say anything. If I had, I would have got kicked out.” Additionally, if she’d spoken out, she would have violated the morality clause of her record contract.

Meanwhile, the pain of staying closeted was literally killing her. In 2009, after finishing her last album, Beeching was diagnosed with linear scleroderma morphea, an autoimmune disease that can be triggered by deep trauma or stress. While undergoing chemotherapy, she came to terms with her homosexuality. She made a promise to come out by the time she was 35, saying, “Thirty-five is half a life. I’ve lost so much living as a shadow of a person.”

So, now that she’s bravely come out, what next? Beeching has already received some heavy criticism from her Christian fans after she wrote several blog posts in support of gay marriage last year, and she’s likely dealing with more now. She and her parents have agreed to disagree on the sinfulness of her sexuality. As she says, “We often confuse needing to agree as the basis of being able to love one another.” She aims to help change the Church’s view on homosexuality. When asked why she hasn’t left her faith when it’s caused her so much “shame and isolation and pain,” she answered, “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…rather than abandon it and say it’s broken, I want to be part of the change.”

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13 Comments

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    I have been following Vicky Beeching’s story this week and have felt really moved and inspired by it. She has such integrity, compassion and courage. On C4 news this week they had having a live “debate” with this awful pastor, and she just dealt with it graciously and patiently (but was kickass!).

    In the UK we generally have less and less younger generations attending church and I think a lot of that is because, like me, many younger people don’t feel included and like the church can be relevant/effective in their lives. It’s great to see someone like Vicky Beeching’s standing up and hopefully helping to bridge that gap.

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    This was an interesting article! I really relate to her description of what it’s like growing up with that kind of secret (as a non-religious person but a person who is growing up in the rural South).
    One thing though! It was always my understanding that scleroderma has no proven cause but is mostly just linked to environmental exposures, not stress? Does anybody who outranks my very basic Health Science 1 level of education have any information about that?

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      The most recent peer reviewed article I could find examining the link between scleroderma and emotional stress was from the 50’s…the Mayo clinic says that the condition is linked to the immune system, but that what causes onset is not well understood.

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      Definitely feel you on the rural South roots, Frances!

      As far as I know re: autoimmune diseases, as a category they do have a murky range of triggers, from environmental to genetic to extreme body stress. In my experience, doctors or patients focus more on the extreme body stress triggers, perhaps because it’s the most controllable? When my mom was diagnosed with lupus, for example, she was told that it might have been triggered by a particularly harsh series of winters in Chicago, which, on the one hand, is environmental, but also certainly stressed out her body (thus our move south). She also warns me against body stressors like bleaching my hair or pulling multiple all-nighters in case I inherited an increased potential for an autoimmune disease. But that is my mom, and one other person I know with a similar disease (I also read a great piece last year by Meghan O’Rourke about her autoimmune disease, which she thinks was triggered in part by the stress of her mother’s death), #notallautoimmunediseases

      All that (sorry to long-wind, I get excited when I’m like, a 5% expert on something, medical Straddlers plz steer us right!) to say, yes, probably, maybe, the world doesn’t know? But it was def misleading to say that scleroderma is often caused by stress. I’m not sure if there’s more than anecdotal evidence out there; I’d just taken the info from the article and didn’t think about phrasing. Good catch on that!

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      This was a great article. I hadn’t heard of Vicky Beeching, but I’m interested to find out more.

      As someone who has scleroderma, all I can really say about its origins, is that no one knows. There is evidence for a genetic predisposition triggered by environmental factors, others claim food allergies or exposure to heavy metals. I’ve heard the stress and trauma explanation too. Mostly, because it is so rare, it hasn’t been studied very much, so there are more questions than answers at this point. I definitely have more symptoms when I’m under a lot of pressure. Ironically, finding out that I had an autoimmune disorder did not help with the stress issue.

      But hooray Vicky Beeching!

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    I wish there had been a woman like this in the scene when I was a teen, closeted and heavily involved in the church. I remember feeling so incredibly isolated and as though I needed “fixing”. I’m hopeful that today’s gay Christians can find some hope and comfort in Vicky’s courageous choice to live and speak her truth.

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    Hooray! This makes me so so pleased! Even if my reposting on FB did make someone wonder out loud how people can stay in churches that have issues with them/that reject them. Listen mate, it’s not so simple to walk away from something that might be deeply important to you in many ways but that still hurts you. It’s fair to walk but it’s also fair to stay, for the parts that matter or to change things. SO THERE.

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      Re: HTHE, Yes. I’ve been trying to walk away for five years. And walking away was fair and what I needed to do. But there is something that keeps dragging me back and saying “Hey! We are the stories that gave your life meaning for two decades! You can’t abandon us, you have to deal with us.” So I am and trying to re-engage with the tradition is fair, too.

      Anyway, this makes very happy. I hope that the little queer boys and girls who are growing up evangelical will hear her story and take it to heart and love themselves.

      I am not familiar with Vicky Beeching, but I’ll have to look her up. In my most recent attempt to deal with everything, I have been trying to go back to church, and I keep getting frustrated that all the songs are by white, (presumably) cis*, straight men and have this very masculine, all powerful, He-will-save-us view of God. Which, if I’m going to re-engage with this tradition, is not the sort of theology I can deal with.

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        I have the same issues with re-engaging with the tradition I grew up with. When I do visit my parents’ church I end up revising songs as I sing them to re-cast the divine less hierarchical and male and more empowering and rooted within our humanity and love. I don’t know if anyone has noticed.

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    I grew up listening to her music…I read about her on another site because my evangelical mom sent it to me. It was crazy to hear my own emotions and struggle echoed in someone I respected all my life as a young person and singer. Thanks for posting. :)

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    I find it interesting and sad that no other “organization” or person has caused me as much pain, guilt and suffering as the church has. I wonder how much better adjusted I would be as an adult had I not had the church telling me I was evil. My thoughts were evil and I surely would be damned if I ever acted upon them. Therefore I pictured my bleak future without ever being able to be loved or give love, or face the pits of hell. For twenty years I didn’t know which fate was scarier. I am thrilled brave voices in the church scene are speaking out, these actions do more good than the individuals could possibly fathom.

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