She's not the first Christian songstress to come out, but Vicky Beeching's shocking announcement that she's a lesbian is certainly capturing a fair amount of attention.
Image via Vicky Beeching @vickybeeching
Beeching, a British singer and songwriter-turned religious commentator, recently made the stunning revelation in an interview with the U.K.'s Independent, explaining that she tried everything to escape same-sex attraction from begging God for relief to undergoing a "humiliating" and "degrading" exorcism.
"I'm gay," she recently told reporter Patrick Strudwick, revealing her life-long secret.
In a separate interview, Beeching, who has led worship music at many North American churches, said that she believes God has been with her throughout her journey.
"I do not feel I left God in back there, in the evangelical church. I feel like he's become closer and closer," she told Christian Today's Ruth Gledhill. I feel I was in the desert, making this decision, and he's been in the desert with me, that this is something he's led me towards, something I am supposed to do."
The singer, who recently left Christian music to work in TV, went on to describe first being attracted to women at age 12 — something she concealed for most of her life due to her conservative upbringing.
"Realizing that I was attracted to them was a horrible feeling. I was so embarrassed and ashamed," Beeching said, noting that it made her feel isolated. "It became more and more of a struggle because I couldn't tell anyone."
She went to a priest and confessed in hopes that she would be relieved of her same-sex attraction, but it did little to help her situation, leaving her feeling as though something was truly wrong with her.
Beeching described absolutely breaking down in tears one night when she was just 13 years old.
"I felt like it was ripping me in half. I knew I couldn't carry on. I was trying to align the loving God I knew and believed in with this horrendous reality of what was going on inside me," she told Strudwick. "I remember kneeling down and absolutely sobbing into the carpet. I said to God, 'You have to either take my life or take this attraction away because I cannot do both.'"
Music became an outlet, though she continued to struggle in the years to come. When she turned 23, Beeching, who is known for singing the popular worship song, "Glory to God Forever," among others, moved to Nashville to begin her singing career, but the secret continued to plague her.
But after her Christian singing career took off and she produced three albums and worked with some of the biggest names in faith-based music, Beeching reached a critical turning point in her journey.
She was diagnosed with linear scleroderma morphea, a disease in which soft tissue becomes scar-like, forcing her to go on chemotherapy, with doctors warning that internal stress might have sparked the illness.
It’s taken all my courage, and all these years, for me to finally do this interview: http://t.co/BKEkAuCEWS— Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) August 13, 2014
Best moment of yesterday was hearing that a number of people - young & old - came out as a result of reading my article. #Grateful— Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) August 15, 2014
Helping others find the courage to speak up about their sexuality is so important to me. Doing a few radio shows today to encourage this.— Vicky Beeching (@vickybeeching) August 15, 2014
"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 thought to herself, pledging to come out by the time she turned 35. "Thirty-five is half a life. I can't lose the other half. I've lost so much living as a shadow of a person."
So, at 35, Beeching, who said she has never been in a relationship, is coming out.
"There is someone that I like," she told Gledhill. "I think coming out will give me the freedom to explore that. Now I feel I have given myself permission to do that."
Despite believing that church teaching on sexuality is what caused her pain, she has no plans to leave the faith.
"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."
Read more about her story here.