The February edition of The New Yorker Magazine has an incredible profile on openly gay artist Tonex' penned by Kelefah Sanneh chronicling the rise and fall of gospel music's first artist to ever publicly admit his homosexuality.
Tonex's 2009 interview on The Lexi Show where he admitted that homosexuality wasn't a struggle for him and he'd indeed embraced his same-sex attraction sent ripples throughout the gospel music industry; Tonex' had done the unthinkable by addressing the elephant in the room occupied by hundreds of closeted gay gospel artists and without the veil of repentance.
From The New Yorker:
He is, within the church world, the first high-profile gospel singer in history to come out of the closet. Within hours, he started to realize what he had done. His relationship with the mainstream gospel industry was effectively over. Tonéx was brought up in the church. The Williams family belonged to the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (P.A.W.), and his father, A. C. Williams, founded Truth Apostolic Community Church. Mentions the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Nearly all the Pentecostal gospel stars were COGIC.
In the nineties, Tonéx was signed by a local Christian label called Rescue, and then by Jive Records. Tonéx sensed early on that he was attracted to other boys, and he spent the better part of three decades trying to figure out what that might mean for him. Along the way, he has honed a style of his own, a sly but ecstatic form of electronic pop. Early last year, he made a major-label comeback with “Unspoken,” but the album was largely ignored by the gospel industry. By going public, and by suggesting that a homosexual relationship can be as godly (or ungodly) as a heterosexual one, Tonéx went from being just another sinner to being a high-profile heretic.
There's audio of Kelefah Sanneh's interview experience with Tonex' here that should be required listening.
In an exclusive interview with loldarian.com Tonex' went into detail about his experience as a closeted same gender loving man, the homophobia of the black church, and the fallout from his decision to go public with his sexual orientation.
Tonex' is a friend of the blog and I love this brotha deeply. Our condolences go out to him after the loss of his mother and on a good note we send our congratulations on his recent Grammy nomination.
Read a PDF of the entire article here.