Kristin Chenoweth: Christian and Gay Rights Supporter

Sep 8, 2011 3:53pm

Kristin Chenoweth is a study in contradictions.

The diminutive songstress who played a high school dropout on “Glee” and originated the role of Glinda in “Wicked” is just as comfortable talking about her Christian faith as she is her support for gay rights.

In a recent interview with The Advocate, she explained how she can hold both dear to her heart.

“I read my Bible and I pray and all of that. I really do,” she told the gay-interest publication. “But at the same time, I don’t think being gay is a sin. Period.”

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Chenoweth, 43, who grew up in Oklahoma’s Bible belt, cited her grandmother as inspiration.

“My [gay] best friend — I’ve talked about him many times — his name’s Denny. I asked my Grandma Chenoweth, ‘How can it be that he’s going to hell? I just don’t think that correct.’ And she said, ‘Well, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish: I take the meat, and it serves me well, but I don’t choke on the bone.’

Asked how she would respond to people who cite their Christian beliefs as the basis for discrimination against gays, she said with a laugh, “I would ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ It sounds so cliché and Pollyannaish, but I have a feeling if he were on the earth today, he wouldn’t be walking around saying, “You’re going to hell” and “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.” I think he’d be accepting and loving.”

Using her tiny stature as an example, she said, “What would I do if it was a sin to be short? That’s the way God made me, so what could I do? Let’s see, I could wear heels, I could tease my hair, and maybe on a good day I could be 5’1″. But the bottom line is, I’m 4’11″ and that’s the way I was put together. And that’s what I believe about homosexuals.

“And I love, love that this has become a purpose in my life. It’s one that I didn’t ever expect,” she added.

Even when straddling the line has cost her.

When Chenoweth was named a spokeswoman in 2005 for a Women of Faith concert in Oklahoma City, promoters demanded her resignation upon learning about her pro-gay stance through an appearance on “The 700 Club,” which, ironically, upset many of her gay fans. When Chenoweth refused to step down, Women of Faith fired her. Chenoweth told The Advocate it was the saddest moment in her professional life.

And last year, after calling Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh’s column about whether gay actors can play straight “horrendously homophobic,” Chenoweth received an online backlash from some disappointed fans.

But she hasn’t let any of it slow her down. With her fourth album, “Some Lessons Learned,” due out Sept. 13 and a new show on the horizon, ABC’s “Good Christian Belles,” Chenoweth plans to keep walking her talk. She’s already discussed with “Belles” creator Robert Harling having her character reflect her own personal struggles.

“There are always people of faith that battle this and think that it’s wrong. I’ve struggled with that. You might see that on the show,” she said. “It makes me happy.”

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