Trey Pearson, the founding member of Christian rock group Everyday Sunday, kept his sexuality secret for decades. Then, on Tuesday, he came out as gay in an open letter to his fans, published in (614) Columbus, explaining the daily difficulty he faced in pretending to be something he wasn't for fear of how his church, his God, his family and his friends would respond.
"I grew up in a very conservative Christian home where I was taught that my sexual orientation was a matter of choice, and had put all my faith into that," Pearson wrote.
"I had never before admitted to myself that I was gay, let alone to anyone else. I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence. I've tried my whole life to be straight."
At 35, Pearson has a wife and two children; he's enjoyed a highly successful career, having sold hundreds of thousands of albums, one of which cracked the Billboard top 200. According to (614) Columbus, he's performed in 20 different countries, as well as in every state in the U.S. But while Pearson maintains strong faith, he's aware that his letter could end the success he's known.
Many conservative Christian circles adhere to the belief that homosexuality is a sin, citing Biblical scripture as evidence. As Religion News Network reported, Christian musicians who've come out in the past — Ray Boltz, Anthony Williams, Jennifer Knapp and Vicky Beeching among them — have seen big segments of their audiences shift away as a result.
While some of Pearson's conservative fans may reject him and his music after reading his letter, the response he received on social media Wednesday seemed overwhelmingly supportive:
Depression runs high in LGBT youth, who are far more likely than heterosexual kids to commit suicide, especially if they come from families that reject their sexual orientation. And even in cases where clinical depression and suicide aren't issues, there's still the pain that comes from growing up suppressing who you are.
Now that he can be honest with himself, Pearson said he's finally able to shake that feeling. "It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me," he wrote, "and I have never felt such freedom."