I am far from the only one to call this a must-read book, especially for Christians, wherever they stand on the left-right spectrum and however they regard same-sex attraction.
Publisher: William Collins
Most Christians know Vicky Beeching as a worship song writer, and by now most probably know that she came out as lesbian a few years ago, not least for reasons of health.
Having grown up in the Pentecostal / evangelical wing of the church, she struggled for years to come to terms with her sexuality, and because she knew it would be the end of her career to come out in such a potentially hostile arena, she kept quiet, even to her family.
The result was both over-work (to help her hide her lack of a partner at times like Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when almost everyone else was paired up) and immense stress, as coming out would mean being unable to use the gifts and passion for leading worship that God had given her.
That pressure led to her suffering from ME and developing scleroderma, an incurable condition by caused by the immune system attacking the connective tissue under the skin and around internal organs and blood vessels. It is stress-induced and can kill.
This book gives her space to tell her story properly. In it we understand her worldview as she grew up, and feel a little of what it was like to live her life. The story is simply stated and extremely readable.
Beeching takes us through her formative years – which are very easy for evangelicals to identify with – and onto her time studying Theology at Wycliffe Hall, a Church of England theological college and a Permanent Private Hall of Oxford University.
While there, her music began to get noticed and Vineyard Records flew her to Los Angeles to audition for a recording contract.
Simultaneously, she was discovering new depths and complexities to the bible, which she could now read in Hebrew and Greek. She takes the reader with her as she describes wrestling with the apparent contradictions between the body she was put into and evangelicals’ approach to the faith that means everything to her.
She also learned that many generations went through issues that seemed to split the Church, such as Galileo claiming that Earth revolved around the sun; the ethics of slavery; and the wider issues of racism and civil rights. Might gender equality be this generation’s issue?
After passing her degree and winning the recording contract, the stresses of life grew, not least due to the relentless touring schedule. Once she was diagnosed with the diseases that she could not outrun, she faced the new pressures of coming out, and she takes us with her through the reactions that this brought out in Church and society on both sides of the Atlantic.
Throughout this ordeal, she writes with grace and restraint as she deals with painful issues of suicidal feelings, rape threats, betrayal by the Church that loved her when it suited and then dumped her and hurled vitriolic abuse at her when she came out.
These are uncomfortable pages for Christians to read, but Beeching refuses to stoke flames, simply telling her story straight.
Wherever Christians stand on same-sex attraction, this story is an authentic look at how life feels for people who are in two minorities at once: Christian and gay. It is probably even more important for those who think they disagree with her to read the story.
She notes that this is, “not a theology book or academic essay; it’s a memoir.” She would probably wish to have the word count to go deeper, but this is as deep as it needs to be. Surely no one could read it and then claim to have learned nothing. I maintain that this is a book that deserves very wide readership.