Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ray Boltz: Out of the Closet

Ray Boltz announces that he is gay and he is coming out of the closet.

Some of you might be asking, who in the world is he. So, here is a little information:

He had 16 albums. Boltz, 55, recorded during a nearly 20-year recording career that saw the Muncie, Ind., native become one of the better-known singer/songwriters in Contemporary Christian Music, a genre born out of the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s that made singers like Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman superstars in religious music with occasional excursions into mainstream pop culture.

Boltz, with about 4.5 million LPs, cassettes and CDs sold, never made a splash outside of Christian circles but he never really tried. With a handful of RIAA Gold-certified albums, three Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association (GMA) and a string of 12 No. 1 hits on Christian radio, Boltz is a household name in evangelical circles. “Thank You,” a sentimental song about a dream in which a Christian thanks the Sunday school teacher who led him to embrace Christ, is his signature song. It was the GMA song of the year in 1990 and has become a staple of Christian funerals. Other Boltz trademarks are “Watch the Lamb,” “The Anchor Holds” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.”


Boltz on the Struggle

Boltz declines to go into specifics about the first time he was with a man, but says he has been dating and lives “a normal gay life” now.

“If you were to hold up the rule book and go, ‘Here are all the rules Christians must live by,’ did I follow every one of those rules all that time? Not at all, you know, because I kind of rejected a lot of things, but I’ve grown some even since then. I guess I felt that the church, that they had it wrong about how I felt with being gay all these years, so maybe they had it wrong about a lot of other things.”

As he sorted out his faith, Boltz began building a new life for himself. He took some graphic design courses. He found he could be almost completely anonymous in Ft. Lauderdale. The mullet he’d sported in the ’80s was long gone and CCM had always been a somewhat insular community.

Boltz says the anonymity was a blessing.

“I didn’t have to be who I was in the past. I didn’t have to fit somebody else’s viewpoint of what they thought I was. I could just be myself and I met a lot of wonderful people.”


Boltz: A Little Nervous

Boltz admits to some nervousness, but says ultimately, he isn’t worried.

He doesn’t want to get into debates about scripture and has no plans to “go into First Baptist or an Assembly of God church and run in there and say, ‘I’m gay and you need to love me anyway.’”

For him, the decision to come out is much more personal.

“This is what it really comes down to,” he says. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”



Even MCC’s (Metropolitan Community Church) in Indianapolis Cindi Love anticipates tough times ahead for Boltz.

“He needs to get through this initial coming-out process and just see how that feels,” she says. “A lot of people will probably throw a bunch of stuff at his family. I pray they don’t, but I bet they will.”

Hogue, who worked with Boltz on his 1991 album “Another Child to Hold” and has helped him record a few new songs for a still-evolving possible new project, says he hopes for a day when Christians will see homosexuality as no more a perceived sin than it used to be for women to be ministers or for divorced Christians to hold leadership positions in churches.

“I like to hope for the best, but it will be slow moving,” Hogue says.


Funny Story (to me)

Boltz brought the Christmas CD with him to MCC-Indianapolis on that cold, sunny December 2007 day and slipped it to Miner (reverend at MCC)on his way out with a note taped to it on which he’d jotted his e-mail address.

Ostensibly it was an innocuous thing to do, but for Boltz it was a big step. It eventually led to him opening up to Miner, one of the first times anybody outside Boltz’s circle of family and friends knew his long-kept secret: Ray Boltz is gay.

The name on the CD didn’t register with MCC’s Rev. Jeff Miner at first. And that was just fine with Ray Boltz.

Miner liked the Christmas CD and was so impressed he e-mailed Boltz and asked him if he’d ever thought about doing music full time.

Boltz laughed as he read the note.

“He obviously had no idea who I was and I just loved that,” Boltz says. “I just said, ‘Uh, yeah, I used to.’”

Miner showed the CD to the music leaders at MCC Indianapolis who, recognizing Boltz’s name, were dumbfounded that he’d been to their church. When they mentioned some of Boltz’s hits to him, Miner made the connection.

Miner told Boltz if he was ever in the area again — Boltz makes regular trips back to the Midwest to visit family — that he was welcome to sing.

“I was scared to death when he said it,” Boltz says. “But I finally got the courage and said, ‘Yeah.’”

I kinda thought it was funny that he had no clue who Boltz was. However, today, I have found out many Christians have no clue. It shocked me.



I am not sure if there will be ramifications or how many people may talk about him or homosexuality. The issue is a "hot-topic" at times. Sometimes the conversations get heated.

What will be the reaction ? I am not sure. Obviously, this will hit closer to home and bring out more questioning and thought from those with conservative/literal views of scriptures.


Amy said...

Wow! Conservative Christians are going to flip out! I mean, my mom has a bunch of his CD's in her car. And my old church would do his songs as anthems. This is pretty astounding news. I'm not sure how to take it--on one hand it doesn't change his amazing music, but on the other, he shouldn't be living an openly gay lifestyle as it's a sin. It would be different if he came out and said, "I struggle with this" as opposed to "This is my life." Know what I mean? I think his career in Christian music, at least in the mainstream, is over.

Doorman-Priest said...

They have been flipping out from what I have read on other blogs.

I have failed to get people to explain to me how coming out has materially changed Ray Boltz's walk with Jesus.

Sexuality is not determinative salvation and all our sexualities are fallen. Mine is no less fallen than the next man's whether the next man is straight or gay.

What disturbes me is the particular vitriol some Christians reserve for Homosexuals when God makes no distinction. Sin is sin and God does not do categories.

Sexuality IS NOT a choice. The man is gay and believes he always was. That is how God made him. Straight or gay we are all made in the image of God.

Sexual behaviour IS a choice and this is where we need to concentrate: on the "doing" and not the "being" but there is a double standard: those "good Christians" who have been slagging him off all over the INTERNET reserve their nastiest and most unchristian remarks for gays. They do not condemn straight promiscuity with as much venom. Instead of concentrating on homosexual promiscuity we should be condemning heterosexual promiscuity in the same breath. Promiscuity is promiscuity. God doesn't do categories. It is we who have the specific problem with homosexuality not God.

So Ray Boltz is dating. Good for him. I hope that means he is not being promiscuous. I hope it means he is being monogamous and is in a stable relationship and if so I find it hard to believe that God cares as much as some of his detractors care.

I hope he is happier in his new life than he was in his old life and I applaud his honesty and bravery in cutting through the self righteous religious crap the holier-than-thous have been throwing at him.

I'll come down from the fence now.

Jeff Greathouse said...

He is getting slammed in many circles. Wether you (not you, Christians) think that it is right / wrong / detestable .....

Where is the love and compassion that we should be giving him. instead, we are picking up stones and throwing at them

(satire) Hmmmm, I think that there is a story in the Bible about stones and sin and Jesus and ...

Mykel said...

I'm not going to out him but it's pretty well known in Nashville that one of the 3 members in DC Talk is gay....and it's not gossip either. The CCM Music machine would crumble if that ever made the mainstream.