Kris­ten Becker and Jay Bakker

Les­bian comic and straight ally to 'loosen the Bi­ble Belt'

GA Voice - - Front Page - By SHAN­NON HAMES

A&E

What do you get when you cross a les­bian co­me­dian with a skate-punk preacher who also hap­pens to be the son of Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker? You get a tag-team duo hit­ting the South for their sec­ond “Loosen the Bi­ble Belt” tour. Ge­or­gia Voice sat down with Becker and Bakker (a for­mer At­lanta res­i­dent) for a funny, in­for­ma­tive and poignant in­ter­view.

How did the idea for this tour come about? Kris­ten:

I have Chris­tian friends and I’ve al­ways been gay – it’s al­ways been a thing. I kept see­ing all of the Chris­tians get­ting to­gether here and the gays would get to­gether there. It just seemed to me that we should all get to­gether to have some­thing pro-Chris­tian and pro-gay.

I watched Jay’s doc­u­men­tary “One Punk Un­der God” and he showed a lot of for­ti­tude. When asked about his stance on gay mar­riage, he said love is big­ger than any­thing. I was blown away. I said, “Do you want to go spread some love around with me? Get in the car,” and he said, “Okay.” (Laughs)

When I did that show about 10 years ago, I had

Jay:

www.the­ge­or­giavoice.com

fallen un­der con­vic­tion that my gay broth­ers and sis­ters were be­ing left out. I was talk­ing about how the church was mis­treat­ing them but it had to stop with “we should treat gay peo­ple bet­ter.”

As I be­gan to study the is­sue in depth, I con­cluded that what we know gay, les­bian, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der to be is not in the Bi­ble. Most of it was about wor­ship­ing other gods or what­ever. I was strug­gling to speak truth but also wor­ried about what all other pas­tors worry about - that if you speak the truth, you’ll lose ev­ery­thing. But soon enough, I just didn’t care any­more what it was go­ing to cost me. I had to speak out.

The ser­mon didn’t even go up on­line yet be­fore can­cel­la­tions of my speak­ing en­gage­ments came in. My big­gest donors pulled their sup­port, board mem­bers re­signed. I knew it would hap­pen. I saw what hap­pened to my par­ents.

The Sun­dance Chan­nel wanted to record me for a doc­u­men­tary (that mor­phed into a re­al­ity show) and my mom, at the time, was

dy­ing of cancer. It was strange how many letters I would get from peo­ple more con­cerned about my stance on the gay is­sue than they were about my mother dy­ing. Their con­cern wasn’t for peo­ple; it was about their idea that I had bro­ken some sa­cred the­ol­ogy.

I did the show and when it was re­leased, it re­ally touched a lot of peo­ple, so I was truly thank­ful.

Kris­ten: I was one of the peo­ple he touched. I con­tacted him right away and pitched my idea of us go­ing on the road to­gether. This is our sec­ond year – we did 10 cities last year. We were four peo­ple in a mini­van do­ing an ex­per­i­ment to see if we could get peo­ple that wanted to hear dirty les­bian jokes and preach­ing in the same room and they did! We got all kinds com­ing up to us af­ter the show and we’re film­ing it all.

Jay got a lot of pas­tors with what he calls “dead eyes” – th­ese young guys who want to love ev­ery­one but the peo­ple who are higher up are telling them no, they can’t love ev­ery­one. We in­ter­viewed a young cou­ple but they didn’t want to be on cam­era be­cause their fam­ily didn’t know they were ag­nos­tic. They were raised Bap­tist but were ques­tion­ing those be­liefs. So their closet was re­li­gion-based.

Jay: I just want us to start ask­ing our­selves why we con­tinue to try to look for a scape­goat. Why do we con­tin­u­ously try to iso­late peo­ple? Why are we try­ing to force peo­ple into cer­tain bath­rooms? Why do we try to deny equal­ity? We try to be light­hearted, en­ter­tain­ing and se­ri­ous all at once. Peo­ple get the whole pack­age.

What do you want to say to your At­lanta peo­ple?

Jay: At­lanta is my home. A lot of my tat­toos come from At­lanta. I used to work at Crim­i­nal Records. I bought my skate­boards at Strato­sphere. Lit­tle 5 Points was my stomp­ing grounds. I hope that my friends will come see me and say hello.

Kris­ten Becker and Jay Bakker are co-head­lin­ers on the ‘Loosen the Bi­ble Belt’ tour play­ing At­lanta on May 15 and Athens on May 16. (Pub­lic­ity pho­tos)

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