Tony and Emmy award-winning Kristin Chenoweth is known for her performances on stage, in film, on television, and in the recording studio. Additionally, she has earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for the LGBT community. Chenoweth has also been very open about her Christian faith and her Baptist upbringing. In 2004 she released As I Am, a contemporary Christian album. Her next album, A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas was released in 2007. For Chenoweth, there is no contradiction between being Christian and being a friend and ally to the LGBT community, which is how she has been able to do so much effective work in both communities.
When Newsweek published an article entitled “Straight Jacket”, which implied that gay actors were not able to effectively play straight roles, including her then co-star, Sean Hayes, Chenoweth responded forcefully. “I know how much it means to young people struggling with their sexuality to see out & proud actors like Hayes, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon succeeding in their work without having to keep their sexuality a secret. No one needs to see a…factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can’t be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams.”
In 2011 GLAAD honored her tireless advocacy for the LGBT community by awarding her the Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
As you listen to her acceptance speech, you will hear her talk about her Baptist upbringing and how her faith taught her to love everybody. “Even if you don’t believe in Jesus the way I do, he did teach love — not just tolerance, but acceptance. I’m lucky I had parents who adopted me at birth, conservative Southern Baptists who said, ‘You will love everyone the same.’”
What is particularly refreshing about Chenoweth’s approach is that her love and support comes because of her Christian faith, not despite it. Too often the public assumes a divide between people of faith (especially within Christianity) and the LGBT community. Sadly, this divide is reinforced both by many Christians and many LGBT people. However, there are a growing number of people who both claim their faith and their understanding that LGBT people are created and loved by God just as they are. Kristin Chenoweth is one of those individuals who has been able to address this intersection between faith and identity. That is what makes her such a strong advocate.
Lately, Chenoweth has been doing several interviews for her new album, a country album entitled Some Lessons Learned. In those interviews, she is reinforcing her stance as a Christian who loves and supports the LGBT community. In an interview with Joy Behar on HLN, Chenoweth said, “I am a Christian and I believe in God, and I don`t believe he makes mistakes. So I don`t believe that being gay is a sin, and in fact it`s how you`re made.”
GLAAD thanks Kristin Chenoweth for her important voice in support of LGBT equality and for being so articulate about how that support is informed by her Christian faith. We continue to encourage other people of faith to follow Chenoweth’s lead and speak out about how their faith supports LGBT equality.