It’s hard to explain just how spectacular and original the album Bible Belt Baby is, or just how well Flamy Grant rose to the occasion of releasing the first Christian album by a drag queen. Perhaps the song “Esther, Ruth, and Rahab,” with its use of the words cock, snatch, and fuck to convey admiration for the women of the Bible, stands out as the quickest way to get a sense the genuine and unexpected emotions this album has to offer. It’s perhaps more affirming than a traditional worship album, even while working to replace some of the exclusionary and patriarchal messages that can make religion feel like a less than welcoming place for so many in the LGBTQ+ community. Oh, and “Good Day” is a hymn – both queer and Christian – for the ages.
Flamy Grant, or at least the person who would grow up to embody Flamy Grant, did not need to be indoctrinated in any way. They were in their mother’s closet using skirts as dresses and poorly applying makeup as a toddler. Instead, they had to be talked into a life without drag.
“I think by about the time I started school is when I got the message from my folks that this is not okay actually,” Flamy said in an interview, dressed in full drag. As the title of the album would suggest, Flamy grew up in a conservative community. They described the ‘triad’ of church, Christian school, and a religious household that dominated their childhood and discouraged dressing as a woman.
“For years, probably a good 30 years, I ignored and avoided any of those impulses,” Grant said. “It was really the pandemic and the lockdown that gave me all this extra time to dive into it. It was such a liberating, freeing experience for me.”
They described a feeling of having conversation with their childhood self.
“This stuff you wanted to do? It’s okay. And actually there’s a market for it. You’re going to be alright, little one.”
After working for a megachurch and being part of a team that started a new church in San Diego, Grant currently leads music for a different church in San Diego, though naturally a more progressive one this time.
“While serving in the church and doing these things I was also fully deconstructing my faith and trying to figure out what I believe,” they said. “I still struggle with the word Christian. It’s actually a piece that I’ve been able to offload onto Flamy. Flamy is the Christian artist. She can handle that. For me personally, Christian is a very difficult term because of what we have happening in our country with the religious right.”
They said that their goal in the church is to create space for queer folk to exist and be themselves. That’s where a song like “Good Day” comes in. It’s a worship song that Grant often performs in church and one that embraces both who they are and the ability to ‘come back home’ and be that person and be surrounded by love and support. It may be aspirational for many, but it really does exist in Grant’s church and it’s a beautiful thing to bask in.
“What we’re doing is not entirely for us,” Grant said of existing as a queer role model in a religious space. “We want it to be a good day now and forever.”
Unfortunately, Bible Belt Baby will not chart with other Christian albums. The category rejects albums with explicit language, and Grant couldn’t quite help themself.
“Look, I am a drag queen at the end of the day,” Grant explained. “I might put out a Christian record, but when I have a point to get across, sometimes colorful language is helpful to that end. It’s silly. It’s just a word and I’m not particularly concerned about words. I’m concerned about actions.”
Another standout song is the falsetto duet “Scratches” that describes people who have been through trauma trying to forge a life and connections. “Takes a Little Time” encourages patience and persistence in self growth. And “I Am Not Ashamed” delivers rap and melodramatic rock as a way of standing up to negative messaging. “Good Day” is certainly the best song on the album, but the preceding nine tracks build tension that the song so beautifully releases.
Above is the full episode as aired on WUSB’s Country Pocket, including both my interview with Flamy and the songs we discussed, starting with What Did You Drag Me Into?, which has a killer music video. The second part of the interview features some Bible lessons, aimed both at those unfamiliar with the Bible and evangelicals who only act unfamiliar with certain portions of the Bible. Lastly, there’s a video of Flamy Grant lip syncing to Amy Grant at a drag conference. You can hear the show live every Monday at 11am on WUSB 90.1 FM or check the blog to watch it as a YouTube playlist. Visit http://www.WUSB.fm and https://www.flamygrant.com for more.