This article originally appeared on September 27, 2021 at Baptist News Global.
The openly queer Christian artist Semler was elated to report the breaking news that the parking attendant at a Switchfoot concert supports gay rights. And that wouldn’t be the only surprise of the night.
As they drove to their parking space, Semler joked about how huge this news was and wondered if the affirmation they received in the parking lot might also come from the stage.
Later that evening, their plan was: “Sometime maybe after ‘Dare You to Move’ is played, I’m gonna yell ‘gay rights’ and kind of see what their crowd does.”
The next day, Switchfoot’s lead singer, Jon Foreman, replied, saying: “Yes, I support your rights and freedoms. I want you to feel loved and supported. In fact, it breaks my heart to think that you would not be accepted.”
Semler followed up on Foreman’s statement with, “I am interpreting what you said as being affirming. If I am incorrect in that, then I really hope you would clarify because I think for many queer people of faith, the bait and switch of hearing such encouraging words like yours and then finding out that it means something else, it can be heartbreaking. But I don’t think that’s you.”
Earlier this year, Semler became the first openly queer artist to climb to the No. 1 album on the Christian music charts. While their explicit album The Preacher’s Kid is not something you’d typically see anywhere on a Christian music chart, Semler was able to get the word out via social media.
In an interview with Baptist News Global, Semler explained: “I just wanted the project to find the people who needed to hear it. I knew we were out there, and I knew we had a lot to talk about.”
While many are focusing on Switchfoot’s statement or on Semler’s unexpected rise up the Christian charts, the bigger story is how queer artists like Semler can offer the church an opportunity for awareness, healing and empathy that is desperately lacking in the church today.