The Story of a Gay, Christian Singer
By Patrick Rogers
Ray Boltz is a singer-songwriter who came to notoriety through contemporary Christian music (CCM). His music tells stories of faith and inspiration. Over his 30-year career, Ray has been the recipient of multiple Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association for songs such as “Thank You,” “The Anchor Holds,” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.” Ray’s music has continued to inspire deep faith in his listeners. He and his ex-wife of 33 years have 4 children. But to the shock of much of the contemporary Christian music world, Ray came out as gay in 2008.
After a great deal of prayer and with the support of his family, Ray publicly announced his sexual orientation in an interview with The Washington Blade. His revelation shocked the Christian community. He received thousands of emails and messages from people who were hurt and angered by his announcement. Most of these messages listed Biblical passages assuring him that he was “bound for hell”. But Ray responded by writing gay affirming songs like “I Will Choose To Love,” “God Knows I Tried,” “Who Would Jesus Love,” and “Don’t Tell Me Who to Love.”
Ray and his partner currently reside in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Although he has retired from the CCM industry, Ray continues to write, record, and perform. He is also actively involved with a local, affirming church.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ray regarding his incredible spiritual path and journey.
Rev. Patrick: What is it like living in South Florida where, generally, diversity is looked at in a positive light as compared to the decades of living and working in a conservative Christian environment.
Ray: I love living in South Florida. Many years ago, I was employed by the state of Indiana as a snow plow driver. It happened to be during one of the biggest blizzards in the history of the Midwest. I made a promise to myself, that if I could ever get out of the snow, I would do it. I used to do concert tours here during the nineties and even owned a condo on the gulf coast. After I came out, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I enjoyed the fact that many of my neighbors are gay and I can walk down the street with my partner and it isn’t really a big deal. Moving from a small town in Indiana to a big city like Fort Lauderdale also allowed me to just be myself. I still love it here, although I am often in Indiana visiting my family.
Rev. Patrick: Your music addresses faith and the message so often dwells on “choices” that we make. How do you respond to those who believe that you have made a choice to be gay?
Ray: I suppose I would just respond to that kind of comment with a question. “When did you choose to be straight?” It is not that I was really attracted to girls and then one day said, “I think I will try this gay thing.” My orientation has been with me from the beginning. At least as far back as I can remember. I spent years doing everything I could to deny these feelings. I pretended they were not real. I prayed. I fasted. I went through deliverance. I went to Christian counselors. I did everything the church told me to do. It did not change me.
Rev. Patrick: How have others who are singers and songwriters in the Christian community who are struggling with their sexual orientation reached out to you for advice and support?
Ray: I have been contacted by many struggling believers during the last seven years. Usually they write to me via my website (www.rayboltz.com) or my facebook page. I have heard from other singers, writers, and even megachurch pastors. The one thing I can’t do, however, is tell someone what they “should” do. Coming out is a very personal decision. In the case of pastors or Christian musicians, it could mean the loss of their positions, ministries, and even their families. I always encourage people to find a good therapist or counselor, one that will not impose their religious beliefs. I suggest they find a person who can help them understand that they are not alone, they are not a monster, and they are wonderful creations just the way they are. Therapy has helped me find my way through the darkness. It hasn’t been easy, but it is possible.
Rev. Patrick: Share with us some stories of your journey and your choices to embrace who God made you that have had a positive influence on others?
Ray: I always appreciate emails and comments from people who are touched by my music or by my story. There have been some dramatic ones. People who were ready to end their lives and somehow heard a song of mine that gave them hope in their darkest moments. I think it is just such a wonderful thing to discover that we are not alone in our struggles and our feelings.
To learn more about Ray Roltz, visit www.RayBoltz.com or look for him on Facebook.