For many years, Christian rocker Trey Pearson's deep religious faith kept him closeted -- but eventually, it helped him come out.
Pearson told the world he's gay in a blog post last week, after having done the same, gradually, with friends, family, and himself. "A lot of it had to do with my perception of my faith," he says of the process.
Peterson, who spoke with The Advocate shortly after his coming-out letter appeared on the Religion News Service website, says that as he grew in his faith, he became more accepting of other people in all their diversity -- and finally, that helped him accept himself.
It wasn't an easy road. Pearson was raised in a conservative Christian family and church, where the message he received was that being gay was a choice, and not an acceptable one. So the singer, who says he's never had a same-sex relationship, did all he could to suppress his attraction to men, even marrying a woman, Lauren, eight years ago and fathering two children with her.
Along the way, he became a star in the Christian rock world as the lead singer of Everyday Sunday; he has been with the band since 2001. The genre caters primarily to the evangelical wing of Christianity, a wing not known for LGBT acceptance.
But Pearson finally realized he couldn't live a dishonest life -- or stay in his marriage to Lauren. "I was never going to be what she needed me to be as a husband," he says. Her reaction to his revelation, he says, was supportive.
"She was amazing," he says. "She just hugged me and cried and told me how proud she was of me." They are in the process of divorcing, but they remain best friends, Pearson says, as they were before they married, and he has a good relationship with his children.
Many of the other people in his life have been supportive as well, he says. Some of his family members are having some difficulty, but they're all trying, Pearson says. And one of his sisters is a major equality advocate.
His fellow musicians have been terrific, he adds, as have many of his friends at church; he has attended both nondenominational and Wesleyan churches. And he purposely didn't think about the impact on his career, he says, because that's "not what it's about."
What it is about, he says, is living an honest life and helping others. Pearson wants to contribute to a conversation about LGBT acceptance in faith communities, and preach that the "clobber verses" in the Bible -- those about homosexuality being an abomination and so forth -- aren't addressing committed gay relationships.
While he's stared down some negative comments, particularly online, he's not dwelling on them. "I know what an ignorant place that hate is coming from."
His mentor on his coming-out journey has been Rob Bell, a progressive Christian author and former minister. Bell told him, "Remember, the truth is the safest place in the universe," Pearson recalls.
Pearson plans to release a single in August and an album in the fall, with titles to be determined. He's also performing at the Pride festival in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, June 17, and he may appear at Pride events in other cities.