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Flamy Grant

Biography

Flamy Grant is an award winning and Billboard-charting “shame-slaying, hip-swaying, singing-songwriting drag queen from western North Carolina."1  Her 2022 debut record, Bible Belt Baby, reached the #1 spot on the iTunes Christian Charts and was nominated for Best Pop Album at the San Diego Music Awards in 2023. Flamy is the first drag queen to ever top the Christian charts, and intentionally chose CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) as a way to help other LGBTQ+ people who are in the process of deconstructing their faith. She is your gay aunty who is there to remind you of your innate worth, the divinity that lies within you, and that God loves you as you are. “Much of Flamy’s music centers on the queer spiritual journey, telling stories of resilience and recovery from religious trauma in a world where LGBTQ+ people are frequently ignored by, harmed in, or ejected from religious spaces. With a bold lip, a big lash, and a blistering voice, Flamy drags audiences to a soulful, uplifting church of her own making”2

.The person under the hot pink wig is Matthew Blake Lovegood (they/them) a “39 year old non-binary badass drag queen”3  They grew up as a fundamentalist Evangelical, through Plymouth Brethren. Raised in the mountains of western North Carolina, deep in the Bible Belt by which the album title Bible Belt Baby comes from. From a young age Blake was enmeshed in Evangelical Christian culture, competing in regional Bible trivia championships, elected student body chaplain in a Christian high school, and led informal worship gatherings and drama ministry at King College in Tennessee, where they received a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing  and theater in 2002.

After graduating, Blake spent their twenties as a church planter and worship leader at various churches. They were working as a worship band leader at a megachurch in Reno when they self-enrolled in conversion therapy through Exodus International in an effort to squelch their queer impulses that had been with them since grade school. After five years of conversion therapy to pray the gay away, they fully embraced their identity, moved out to San Diego, began attending a progressive church, and launched a podcast sharing their deconstruction experience. In 2017, they founded and began co-hosting The Heathen podcast, a podcast about how one can learn how to  move on from bad religion and how modern day heretics and heathens have broken up with bad religion and found the ability to care for themselves holistically and have found practices that guide them towards wholeness, happiness and health, as opposed to the brokenness, shame and guilt often poured out by bad religion.4

This podcast continued on through the pandemic, and it was through a livestream in 2020 called Heathen Happy Hour, that drag queen Flamy Grant was born. The pandemic gave Flamy the opportunity to hone her craft and build an audience through TikTok and other social media platforms. She could blend humor, songwriting, outrage, wild theatrics and the journey through deconstruction through the art form of drag in a way that no other form of creative endeavor had been able to do.

Drag has been around since ancient Greek theater as the theatrical exaggeration of gender, encouraging audiences to consider what it means to be human in our society. Drag has become synonymous with queer liberation movements, dating back to 1860’s drag balls held by the mother of drag, William Dorsey Swann. Today, it is an art form synonymous with gay culture and considering the conservative backed legislative attacks across multiple states attempting to ban it, Flamy’s rise to fame is at a crucial moment in time, encouraging all to consider the intersection of gender and theology.

Flamy created the drag persona of Flamy Grant as an homage to the Contemporary Christian Music recording artist, Amy Grant, known by many as the “Queen of Christian Pop”, a venerated icon for any Evangelical kid growing up in the '80s and ' 90s.
Although I’ve been performing my whole life, it was drag that helped me finally realize how my strange experiences with religious trauma, my queerness, my love for music, and my passion for helping people stuck in toxic environments all come together in Flamy Grant. She’s a fierce fighter for justice who has a powerful set of pipes, a great sense of humor, and lots of love to give. I want my drag to be about self-discovery and space-making: giving people room to simply be themselves and empowering them to throw off the things holding them back. Flamy is a shame-slaying, soothsaying, hip-swaying heathen. I do what I do because I know what it’s like to believe you don’t deserve happiness. For anyone oppressed by shame and fear, Flamy is here to shine floodlights on the way out and to remind them they are SO not alone.5

Flamy’s rising success can both be attributed to the tradition of queer Christian songwriters wrestling against their industry’s structural homophobia and a huge fan base made up of atheists, ex-evangelicals, and progressive Christians. The first album, Bible Belt Baby, contains collaborations with former '90s Christian rocker Jennifer Knapp, the queer ex-evangelical songwriter Semler, and two songs with Derek Webb (from Caedmon’s Call). Flamy’s success is also driven by the extensive backlash she has received from the Christian right. Back in early July 2023, alt right politician Sean Feucht had taken to twitter to criticize Flamy and her collaboration with Derek Webb, Flamy unleashed her fans encouraging them to help prove him wrong. In response to Sean Feucht she proclaimed, “I’m here in all of my draggy audacity to demand they reckon with reality."6

Flamy Grant set out to prove that there was a place for queer people in Christianity, and to prove that a drag queen could top the Itunes charts. The album hit No 1 on July 27th, 2023, and remained there for nine days. The single “Good Day” reached number 1 on the Itunes Christian chart and debuted at #20 on Billboard’s Christian sales chart. Bible Belt Baby is the world’s first Contemporary Christian Music record by a drag queen. Besides topping charts, Flamy also performs live in shows across the country, does speaking engagements in drag about the spiritual aspects of the art form of drag, emcees for queer events, and spreads joy to all she interacts with online and in person. She is a winner of the 2023 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition and a 2023 QueerX Award nominee for Best Drag Artist.

The excitement of her fan base and her rise to fame, has not been able to quell the internalized homophobia of the institution of Contemporary Christian Music, or even the Academy of Music itself. After not being nominated for the Dove awards in October of 2023, Flamy chose to attend the awards with her collaborators, despite the snub. Prior to the Dove awards ceremony, pastor Greg Locke took to the pulpit to condemn her and attempt to incite an uproar during his Sunday morning sermon- right in time for her next single “Fortune Teller” to drop and rise to to #2 on Itunes Christian chart and 16th in the overall digital category.7

 In early November of 2023, the Grammy’s removed her nomination from the Christian category and placed her in the pop category (without telling her prior to the move) with a vague excuse of expletive language being against the Christian world views and ineligible for the category. The song in question, Esther, Ruth and Rahab, ironically being about women of the Bible who subverted societal norms and the impact of those stories on a young queer kid.

The crazy thing about that explicit song, it’s the most biblical song I’ve ever written. It’s literally about women in the Bible. I probably don’t have a more explicitly Christian song on the record. Next time I write a song addressing the oppression of women and LGBTQ+ people in the church, I’ll be sure to do it in a way that’s more palatable to those doing the oppressing.8

As of mid November 2023, Flamy Grant launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds through crowd-sourcing to record her second album. Within 3 days she reached the $30,000 goal and continued to receive funds for her stretch goals to make her second album bigger and brassier than ever, all thanks to the support from her fans. If there is one thing Flamy Grant’s success has proven; it’s that there is a deep communal longing for revival of the soul, and that revival is being brought about by a shame-slaying, hip-swaying drag queen!

(This biographical statement was written by Amanda Shultz for a Queer & Trans Theologies class at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities from the sources indicated below.)

Notes
1 Grant, Flamy “Electronic Press Kit” Flamy Grant.
2 Grant, Flamy “Electronic Press Kit” Flamy Grant.
3 Noelfi, Joey “Christian drag queen Flamy Grant’s No. 1 album is battle cry against ‘terrible theology’ of religious bigots” Entertainment Weekly.
4 Grant, Flamy “I’m Flamy Grant” Heathen Podcast.
5 Local Stories, “Meet Flamy Grant” San Diego Voyager.
6 Noelfi, Joey “Christian drag queen Flamy Grant’s No. 1 album is battle cry against ‘terrible theology’ of religious bigots” Entertainment Weekly.
7 Grant, Flamy “Electronic Press Kit” Flamy Grant.
8 Millman, Ethan “A Christian artist sang ‘cock’ on their album. The Grammys bounced them out of their category” Rolling Stone.

Biography Date: December 2023

Additional Resources

Bibliography
Blake, Matthew “Flamy Grant” Linked In August, 2023. Accessed October 1, 2023.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewblake

Grant, Flamy “Electronic Press Kit” Flamy Grant. October 17, 2023. Accessed November 23rd,2023. www.flamygrant.com

Grant, Flamy “I’m Flamy Grant” Heathen Podcast. March, 2023. Accessed October 10th, 2023. https://www.heathenpodcast.com/flamy-grant

Hesse, Josiah “Meet the drag queen who hit No 1 on the Christian music charts- with help from a Trump ally” The Guardian. August 23, 2023. Accessed October 9, 2023. https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2023/aug/13/flamy-grant-drag-queen-christian-music

Lapara, Nick, host. “#257-Flamy Grant” Let’s Give A Damn podcast, Spotify. August 15, 2023. Accessed October 3rd, 2023. https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/letsgiveadamn/episodes/Flamy-Grant-e283ls9/a-aa83dh7

Local Stories, “Meet Flamy Grant” San Diego Voyager. February 7, 2022. Accessed October 9th, 2023. http://sdvoyager.com/interview/meet-flamy-grant-of-san-diego/

Noelfi, Joey “Christian drag queen Flamy Grant’s No. 1 album is battle cry against ‘terrible theology’ of religious bigots” Entertainment Weekly. August 7, 2023, Accessed November 1, 2023. https://ew.com/music/christian-drag-queen-flamy-grant-bible-belt-baby-interview/

Martin, Don, host. “Can drag queens and gospel music mix?” Head On Fire podcast , Spotify. August 22, 2023. Accessed September 28th, 2023 https://open.spotify.com/episode/0Eeyzd1jd6n4s3JoS8sAru?si=OYQf29PWSO-pnSzy3PcmVQ

Millman, Ethan “A Christian artist sang ‘cock’ on their album. The Grammys bounced them out of their category” Rolling Stone. October 31,2023. Accessed November 1,2023.
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/grammys-move-drag-queen-singer-album-christian-category-1234866265/

Tags

Evangelical | Artist/musician/poet | Trans activism | Conversion Therapy

Citation

“Flamy Grant | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 30, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/flamy-grant.

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