Songwriter Derek Webb and a drag queen who performs under the name “Flamy Grant” recently showed up at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards wearing dresses.
“If I’m attending as an ally of friends and colleagues, I should do everything possible to surrender that privilege at the door,” said Webb, who has won three Dove Awards himself and rand performs with the band Caedmon’s Call.
Earlier this year, Webb released what he described as his first Christian album in 10 years, featuring a song with Grant who is a drag queen. The song, “Boys Will Be Girls,” includes the lyrics: “So if a church won’t celebrate and love you, they’re believing lies that can’t save you or them / ‘Cause you’re so beautiful by any name.”
Grant, for his part, said he was attending the awards show “to have a good time as out and proud queer Christian musicians.”
Webb, who describes himself as an ex-Christian, and Blake made headlines earlier this year when the male pair both donned makeup, colorful wigs and women’s clothing while standing in front of a cross for a music video.
Skillet frontman John Cooper called out what he sees as a “wimpy and weak” Christianity that has resulted in a drag queen showing up at the event. He argued people like Grant and Webb are taking advantage of Christians who don’t know how to speak up boldly and compassionately on issues such as sexuality.
“Obviously, they’re just trying to get attention, they’re trying to disrupt and they’re going about it in a clever way,” he said. “And the truth is they are being the aggressors in this. They know that Christians are so wimpy and weak. They know that Christians are then going to somehow feel intimidated by them and not know how to act.”
Although Cooper did not attend the awards show, he said that if he had been there, he simply would have ignored Grant and Webb. The singer said the choice not to engage with the two men would be out of obedience to the Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
“When you’re dealing with people who claim the name of Christ, who then refuse to stop these patterns of behavior that the Bible condemns, then we have responsibility not to associate with these people,” Cooper explained. “So, I would just ignore them.”
Part of the problem, he added, is the lack of clarity on sexual morality within the Christian music industry.
“If there was clarity in the Christian music industry about what it truly meant to be a follower of Jesus, I think that people wouldn’t feel comfortable to come and express queer joy,” Cooper said. I think they would be like, ‘This isn’t for us.’”
That, however, goes back to his assertion that Christians are too timid on hot-button issues.
“Those who still hold to biblical sexual ethics are getting more afraid to say something, because they feel bullied and they feel like the minority,” he said. “And they’re not sure what’s gonna happen if they do, and they’re not sure if there’s going to be anyone in Christian music that has their back.”