PH2010041303607Welcome to the outside-the-closet world, Jennifer Knapp:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A rising star on the Christian music scene is returning to the public eye with a new identity after a mysterious seven-year absence spent mostly on the other side of the world.

Jennifer Knapp is not only coming out with a new album, she is also “coming out,” a term the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter considers “very bizarre” as she nervously relaunches her career.

The 36-year-old Kansas native, who dated men during her college days, is braced for a backlash from religious fans who faithfully shot down whispered rumors about her sexuality over the years. On the other hand, she said in a recent interview with Reuters, “I’m definitely getting a lot more friendly winks from the girls (at her concerts) than I have in the past!”

No other singer of Knapp’s renown in the Christian music genre is openly gay.

Of course, there will be those who lose their minds and take Jennifer’s CDs to Baptist bonfires, but even though Jennifer doesn’t seem to want to be an activist (which is okay), I think this will probably be good for some of her younger fans in the Evangelical world. Their parents and church leaders lie to them so much about LGBT people, and they get away with it because there is still a cloistered segment of society where people who don’t look, think or act like them are suppressed, if not driven away completely. Since we know for a fact that the mere fact of knowing a gay person makes people exponentially more likely to support us, maybe for some of those kids/young adults, Jennifer Knapp can be the one they know. And especially for those gay kids and young adults who are still trapped in that world and who are still very closeted, Jennifer’s courage in simply being honest will encourage and maybe even save a few of those kids.

Knapp’s new record, Letting Go, will be out May 11. Here’s a live YouTube recording of the title track (and Jennifer chit-chatting with the audience):

(Photo credit: Reuters)