Singing for God
If Queer as
Folk’s Justin took up singing and fell in love
with the Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan, the result might
resemble gay Christian pop duo Jason & deMarco.
Jason, 29, the Randy Harrison look-alike, says he
answered God’s call to minister through his
music when he was still a child in Baltimore; in the 1990s
he toured with Christian groups Truth and the Sound.
That ended in 1998 when Jason came out as gay,
although he has continued to include music from those groups
in his solo projects. In 2001 he met fellow singer deMarco.
But Jason declined to leave behind his ministry,
a determination shared by deMarco, who grew up in an
Italian-Canadian home singing songs he’d
learned from the Roman Catholic nuns who schooled him. On
their first date—July 4, 2001—Jason says,
“we connected on a spiritual plane that was
much deeper than sexual attraction.”
Three years later, Jason & deMarco (both use
only their first names) are in the middle of their
third national tour. Including stops at many
Metropolitan Community Church locations, the open-ended tour
will promote their second self-distributed CD,
financed with donations solicited via their Web site.
They call their music “spirit pop,” a sound
that blends melody and message to engage the soul and a
phrase that gives their new album its title.
“It’s not Christian music,” Jason
says. “It’s pop with a spiritual message. It
has nothing to do with religion; it’s about
love, life, and the journey that we are all living.
It’s about one’s own spirit.”
Advocate contributor Bruce Simpson, who also serves
as archbishop of the Benedictine Order of St. John the
Beloved in the gay-friendly Old Catholic Church,
caught up with Jason & deMarco in a recording studio
in Los Angeles, where they live.
Simpson: Jason, what effect did your evangelical
Christian background have on your music?
Jason: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it
were not for the evangelical music. My Pentecostal
background forms the foundation of my morals,
spirituality, and ideals. I have always loved music that had
a message that crosses over boundaries—it could
be you singing to God or you singing to a loved one.
Being from an evangelical background has also enabled
me to understand the hardship people have when it comes to
reconciling their sexuality with their spirituality.
Tell me about that.
Jason: I knew since I was a child that God had a plan
for me, and when I realized that I might be gay I
thought it was a ploy from Satan to prevent me from
[pursuing my ministry]. I felt I needed to get past
this thing and just fight it, and for years I lived that
way. I finally realized that I couldn’t fight
it and accepted that this is who I am. I fell in love
at 21 and realized then what being gay was all about
and the purity of that love. When I was with [deMarco] I
never felt any perverted feelings or nasty feelings; I
felt it was right.
deMarco: I never had to reconcile my faith and my
being gay because I never cared what the Catholic
Church thought about my being gay. My relationship
with God was not through the church but was very personal.
Do you have any regrets over giving up your previous
careers to work in this ministry with your life partner?
Jason: It has been hardest for me in some ways
because I created this ministry as a result of having
been kicked out of a Christian singing group that I
traveled with when they found out I was gay. Suddenly
bringing a partner into [my ministry] was really difficult.
I had to let go of total control.
deMarco: I could never do this by myself; when we do
this together, it’s like having a piece of home
with you wherever you go and it makes you feel safe.
People have told us in e-mails and in person that
separately we were good, but when we come together and sing
we go to a whole different level.
Jason: It’s amazing how well we get along together.
Is there a central message to your music?
deMarco: Love. It is the most powerful thing that God
can give to you and that we can give to each other.
Jason: And first and foremost, that we can give to
ourselves. If we can see ourselves as children of God
as whole and complete with all of our
faults—and, through our music, if others can see that
they are still loved by God—then our message
has gotten through.
What effect do you hope your music will have on the GLBT
community, and especially on GLBT youth?
deMarco: It’s not just the music, it’s
who we are—we are an out couple who are singing
pop music. We want to be an example to gay and lesbian
youth that it is possible to be gay, out, and have a
career; it’s possible to be spiritual; it’s
possible to love yourself and be in a relationship and
function within society. People come up to us after
our concerts [and they’re] filled with hope,
and that’s what we hope to share.
Jason: I wish the gay community could realize that it
isn’t God coming against them but humankind
coming against them on the gay issue.