Flamy Grant: A drag queen’s journey from church kid to chart-topping Christian artist

by | Aug 16, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — Matthew Blake Lovegood was a 9-year-old kid living in a conservative Appalachian town the first time they wrote a song about Jesus.Sitting in their basement bedroom in 1991, Lovegood didn’t yet know how to play an instrument, so they composed the melody in their head before serenading their mother with the original two-verse tune.
Lovegood hasn’t stopped songwriting since.
Decades later, Lovegood, better known as Flamy Grant, has been dominating headlines as the first drag queen to top iTunes’ Christian music charts. It’s a surreal time for Lovegood, 41, who grew up aspiring to be a contemporary Christian music (CCM) artist. They were already planning a move to the East Coast to pursue a full-time drag career when their now-famous clapback at Christian musician and Turning Point USA contributor Sean Feucht, who condemned a collaboration between Flamy Grant and musician Derek Webb, catapulted Flamy Grant to fame.
Drag queen Flamy Grant on stage. Photo courtesy of Grant
But the ballads of Flamy Grant aren’t likely to grace your local K-LOVE station any time soon —the Christian music world isn’t exactly queer friendly, and Christian airwaves are currently flooded by worship artists, not singer-songwriters. Still, that hasn’t stopped Flamy Grant, who is planning a tour throughout the fall and winter and has already made plans to attend October’s Dove Awards, the Christian music equivalent of the Grammys.
“I want to be part of the movement showing the next generation of queer kids coming up in that (church) culture, that there is a hopeful, bright and wonderful future for you,” Lovegood told Religion News Service. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Lovegood’s religious roots were planted in rural North Carolina, where they were raised on the holy trifecta of home, church and Christian school. Their family belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, a Christian movement that doesn’t have clergy, but, according to Lovegood, does have a good dose of patriarchy.
“There’s no leadership, no paid staff for our church at all. It’s just, literally, if you have a penis, you get to lead the congregation,” Lovegood said. They described services as an hourlong lesson in shame — a topic Lovegood quickly grew well acquainted with when they began to realize they were queer around third or fourth grade.
“I caught on pretty quickly that my queerness was going to be a thing that disqualified me from the kingdom of heaven,” said Lovegood. “And so I worked extra hard to make up for it right and be the best Christian I could, live into all the expectations that were set out before me.”
Matthew Lovegood, top, plays the piano as a child. Photo courtesy of Lovegood
Around the same time, Lovegood got ahold of a collection of Amy Grant cassette tapes. Lovegood recalls that when their family finally got a home stereo, Lovegood would sit in front of it, listening to songs by the Christian musician-turned-pop-icon on repeat. Lovegood began to dream of a career singing about Jesus.
By the time Lovegood was in college in the early 2000s, they had learned guitar and co-founded a Christian band cal …

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