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A MAGA Preacher Condemned a Drag Queen. Then Her Album Topped the Christian Charts

It’s never a good thing, per se, to get called out on Elon Musk’s by a person with more than 100,000 followers and the descriptor “contributor TPUSAfaith” in their bio. But when it happened last week to drag queen Flamy Grant and singer-songwriter Derek Webb, the pair were more than eager to respond. 

“Artists like Flamy and I both wait for these moments,” Webb — a contemporary Christian music stalwart who’s had success as a solo artist and member of the band Caedmon’s Call — tells Rolling Stone. “Because there’s really no better press than somebody hating what you’re doing for the right reasons.”

Last Wednesday, Sean Feucht, a major figure on the religious right who (as Rolling Stone previously reported) stands at the intersection of far-right Christianity and Donald Trump’s MAGAworld, tweeted, “If you’re wondering the end goal of the deconstruction movement in the church, then look no further than former worship leader @derekwebb’s new collab with a drag queen. These are truly the last days.”

Feucht was specifically singling out coverage of Webb’s album release show in Nashville, which Grant opened. But the two have been close friends and collaborators for years. Webb’s new album, The Jesus Hypothesis, features the collaboration “Boys Will Be Girls,” and in the accompanying video, Flamy dresses Webb up in drag. Last year, Webb sang on Flamy’s own song, “Good Day,” off her debut album, Bible Belt Baby

After Feucht’s tweet, Flamy was determined to make the most of the situation and especially prove his follow-up assertion — that “hardly anyone listens or cares what you do” — wrong. So she headed to TikTok and encouraged fans to stream “Good Day.” If they could just crack the Apple Music Christian music charts, it’d be a success. They not only achieved that, but on July 27, “Good Day” and Bible Belt Baby both hit Number One on the Christian songs and albums charts, respectively. Bible Belt Baby even rose as high as Number 48 on Apple’s album chart for all genres last Thursday. (A rep for Feucht did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.)

“I interact with trolls and negative people all the time online, but never somebody who has 100,000 followers and is known for being aggressive with some of his stances,” says Flamy, whose offstage name is Matthew Blake (they/them). “I definitely had a moment of pause where I was like, OK, queer people are legitimately under attack — physically, our bodies are under attack in this country, there are fights breaking out outside of drag shows. But at the same time, it was just too good. Because his point was, no one cares, no one listens to you, you’re a non-entity, you’re not going to make an impact. And just knowing what I know about the queer community and allies, I rolled the dice and placed my bet on that being dramatically wrong. And I think I won.”

Blake acknowledges the Apple Music chart is a bit of a “relic,” but the victory is far from Pyrrhic. In the cloistered, close-minded world of contemporary Christian music, very little space is made for artists like Flamy Grant or Semler, who are trying to broaden that scope with music that contends with faith, identity, gender, spirituality, and sexuality. Even a tiny shake-up in a small corner of the CCM industry can feel like an earthquake. (Semler similarly organized their fans earlier this summer to get their song “Faith” to the top of the Apple Music Christian charts.)

As Webb puts it: “I bet there were a lot of Christian music industry executives who woke up Thursday morning and were demanding answers to how in the world a drag queen was at the top of their chart. How in the world a drag queen boxed out their artists, who they’ve been spending tens of thousands of dollars on marketing, out of the top spot.”

“Good Day” — which Blake wrote in 2016 — is an ideal song to build momentum around. When they wrote it, they weren’t yet performing as Flamy Grant, but they’d been writing and releasing music for years. They were also working as a worship leader at a progressive church in San Diego and grappling heavily with their Christian identity.

“Ask me on any random Tuesday, and I probably don’t feel the Christian label very much,” they say, “but at the time, I was particularly antagonistic. I was like, ‘This whole religion is fucked. I can’t associate with it anymore. I need to distance myself from that word.’”

One night, a friend dragged them to a small group for queer folks in the church, and the discussion began with a loaded icebreaker: “Everybody share how you reconcile your faith and your sexuality,” Blake recalls. Eager to make a point, they bluntly stated: “I don’t reconcile. I don’t have to, because I reject the term Christian, there’s nothing to reconcile. Next.”

Blake remembers feeling “proud” for a moment, before getting “progressively humbled” as more people shared their experiences and reasons for sticking with the church. “In so many words, it was, ‘I stay, because if I leave, there’s a void where I was, and it’s not going to be filled with queer-affirming theology. It’s going to be filled with people who are just glad to see me gone.’”

Blake wrote “Good Day” immediately after, the song coming in that otherworldly — dare we say “divine” — way songs sometimes do. “I just kind of blacked out and when I woke up, there were the lyrics in front of me,” they say.

“Good Day” began its life as a worship song: Blake taught it to the church’s congregants, and they sang it often during Sunday services. Years later, in 2022, after a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund Flamy Grant’s first studio project, Blake was looking for a few more songs to flesh out the album and returned to “Good Day.” Not only did the original message still resonate, it felt even more revelatory in light of the journey they’d embarked on since embracing drag during the pandemic. 

“I don’t always know what I believe. I can’t put my finger on a creed for you,” they say. “But this song is still that anthem of ‘I’m staying. I’m here. I belong here just as much as anybody else.’”

Getting Webb to sing on “Good Day” was equally monumental. While the pair met and struck up a friendship in 2018, Blake had been a fan of Webb’s music for years. “We all have those voices that we listen to in our teens that just transport us, and Derek always does that for me,” they say. “It’s magic to listen to that song now.” 

Webb wasn’t the only hero with whom Flamy Grant collaborated on Bible Belt Baby either. The other was Jennifer Knapp, a trailblazing contemporary of Webb and Caedmon’s Call, who reached similar heights in the contemporary Christian world during the late Nineties and early 2000s; Knapp also came out as a lesbian in 2010. As much as both she and Webb are progressive veterans lending their support to a new generation of artists, they also represent something of a bygone era in contemporary Christian music that artists like Flamy Grant and Semler harken back to.

During our interview, both Webb and Blake take a quick look at Billboard Christian charts and confirm pretty much everything on there right now qualifies as worship music. Meaning, it’s the kind of music you’d hear if you walked into an evangelical Christian church on any given Sunday — “big praise and worship choruses with big rock bands,” Webb explains.

He adds that contemporary Christian music has been trending this way for the past 10 years or so. “If you’re a Christian band and you don’t have a worship song — a song that literally could be used for a congregation to sing on a Sunday morning — then you don’t have a single.” (For those wondering, yes, this is the kind of music Feucht makes when he makes music.)

But back in the Nineties, when Blake was buying cassettes and CDs from the Christian bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina, worship music was, as they put it, “like the stepchild of Christian music.” The contemporary Christian music of that era — like Knapp, Caedmon’s Call, Jars of Clay, The O.C. Supertones, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant (Flamy Grant’s namesake) — wasn’t limited to particular genres. It could be rock, folk, ska, metal, vocal pop, whatever. And its perspective was more subjective, personal. 

“It was people writing about their experiences as Christians in the world,” Blake says.

Or as Webb puts it: “The joke used to be with your average Christian song, if you took the bridge out, where it brought it around to how the whole thing was about God, it could just be your typical, really good love song.” 

In contrast, Blake says, the focus of worship music is praising and glorifying God. “It’s like, ‘from me to you’ — most of the lyrics are second person and the ‘You’ is God. It creates an emotional connection that way.”

And while there’s always been a conservative streak in contemporary Christian music, it seems to have only gotten more pronounced with the shift to worship music.

“In the same way that history is typically told from the perspective of the conquerors,” Webb argues, “Christian music — and especially Christian worship music — really only represents an extremely narrow viewpoint in terms of the experience of people who are Christians in the world.”

It’s no surprise then that an artist like Flamy Grant makes music in that older CCM tradition, where individual experiences are explored in relation to a higher spiritual power or journey. “Good Day,” to bring it back, is a prime example of this — but what makes it unique is that it is a worship song, too. Congregants did sing it on Sunday mornings, with Blake leading the way. 

Though “Good Day” is sung in second person, to God, like most worship music, Blake notes that the voice “is a queer person singing to the church that’s rejected them … We’re taking that worship trope and turning it into an internal dialogue here in the church. Let’s talk about how you’ve treated us and why we are still going to celebrate the good day that God’s given us.”

Though the “Good Day” campaign was by all accounts a success, the barriers built up around the Christian music world are mighty. Again Blake cites Semler, who tried to get their music recognized by K-Love Radio, the dominant Christian station, and the Dove Awards, the gospel/CCM equivalent to the Grammys; so far, K-Love has ignored calls to play Semler’s music, and they only made it to the Dove Awards last year as somebody’s guest. Still, there’s room to plot and disrupt. Blake says they and Semler are considering ways to make a mark on the Dove Awards in October, maybe an “alt-show in Nashville the day before.” 


For now, though, Blake is preparing for a major life overhaul. They just quit their day job and are preparing to move back to Asheville and pursue music and drag full-time. New Flamy Grant music is on the way, including an EP and, possibly, a full-length album in 2024. There are live plans as well, with Flamy Grant taking her “Godless Sheathen” show on the road this fall and winter.

With all this on the horizon, even Blake has to admit how perfect it was that a far-right figure decided to call them out lat week. “Thank you, Sean Feucht, because this could not have happened for me at a better time,” Blake cracks. “I just quit my job and was nervous as hell.”

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