Update: According to the Ray Boltz website, the Christian musician is now retired and living in Florida with his husband. Read on to learn more about Ray Boltz, his music career, his family, and why he decided to come out. In 2010 his album True won Album of the Year at the OUTMusic Awards.

During the course of 15 years in the Contemporary Christian Music Industry, Ray Boltz acquired three Dove Awards, two gold albums, one gold video, 12 number one singles, and sold more than 4 million units of product. Then, he decided to let the world know he's gay.

Why now? Why, after 30 years of marriage, four children, and a career most Christian artists only dream about, would Boltz step boldly out of the closet?

Growing Up in Indiana

In order to understand his actions, it is important to understand Boltz’s background. He grew up in a small town in Indiana with his parents, an older brother, a younger sister, and a younger brother who passed away three months after being born.

He went to public schools and attended a small one-room Methodist church. But even during these young formative years, Boltz would find ways to express his musical ability aside from taking piano and guitar lessons and singing special music at church.

“I was always writing songs…even as a little kid," Boltz said. "I would lay around in the back yard, stare up at the sky and write songs. I loved doing that.”

“When I was young, I also knew who I was attracted to. But anytime I thought about it, it always came with a lot of guilt. I didn’t know any gay people where I lived and never saw it on television. So I listened to what the church told me about homosexuality. And that is, that it was wrong. But if I truly gave my heart to Christ, I could get victory over anything. I just needed to serve the Lord, and He would take care of it.”

That was the mindset that would affect every thought and every action Boltz would have.

Boltz attended college at Ball State University and graduated with a major in marketing and a minor in radio and television. While he was in college, he married Carol, who would be his wife for 30 years. During his college days, he began singing in a variety of churches and associations. This eventually led to him going full-time in contemporary Christian music in 1986.

But when Boltz stepped boldly out of the closet only a few months ago, some of his fans might have felt deceived. After all, Boltz has been blessed with a beautiful family and a successful career that put him on a national and international platform to proclaim the 'good news of Christ.' Yet all that time, Boltz was hiding the fact that he was gay.

I wish I could take people into where I was…to walk a mile in my shoes," Boltz said. "I set out to deceive no one. I believed with all my heart if I prayed enough, if I believed enough, if I read the Bible enough, if I sought counsel enough, if I fasted enough, then these feelings and thoughts would go away. I spent my entire adult life fighting and struggling that way. I don’t think that is deceptive at all. If anything, I was the one who was deceived…by well-meaning people who said it could be overcome.”

Deciding to Come Out

Boltz read every book he could find on the topic, and outside of a Christian counselor, told no one about his struggle.

"After 30 years of trying to overcome this, I finally realized this would never change," Boltz said. "Being gay is not something I do, it is who I am.”

Another counselor Ray was seeing felt he needed to be completely honest about who he is. So one night, Ray was sitting with his family. They knew he had been depressed for quite some time but had no idea what was going on.

His family asked, “Dad, what’s wrong?”

Finally, after years of devastating struggle, Boltz said, “I’m gay.”

“I had never said these words to anyone, outside of a counselor," he said. "But I felt if I couldn’t tell my family, the people closest to me, who could I tell?” It was an emotionally overwhelming time as a family, but a time that would strengthen them as a whole.

“Each member of my family, all four children, and my wife, came to me individually saying they loved me, they cared about me, they accepted me,” Boltz said.

Boltz and Carol separated and eventually divorced realizing that healing needed to occur on many levels for both of them.

“We still love each other," Boltz said. "We talk every day. But we both knew it would be healthier if we separated.”

Ray Boltz on His Faith, Sexuality, and Gay Marriage

And now, four years later, Boltz has made more of a public statement about his faith and sexuality. Why now? Why, after coming out to his family four years ago, would Boltz feel the need to come out in a public way?

Boltz said when he came out to his family, he inadvertently put them in the closet.

“I had a good marriage," Boltz said. "People never suspected there were any problems. So if my kids were asked why we separated, they couldn’t be honest. By coming out publicly, they could be honest and authentic.”

Since coming out to his family, Boltz spent much of his time visiting a variety of Metropolitan Community Churches and other gay-affirming churches.

“These churches were no different from the churches I had sung in for the past 30 years," Boltz said. "They were seeking to worship God in a way they see fit.” They eventually began asking him to sing.

“I knew if I was going to do that, then I had to be completely honest and authentic about my life," Boltz said.

Since coming out publicly, Boltz said his faith has deepened.

“I have come to a point in my faith where it is okay to question things…I don’t want to believe something just because culture says I should believe it," he said. "This is reflected in my songwriting as well. It isn’t wrong to express doubt. Our faith can grow through doubt.”

Though Boltz has overcome the barrier to authentic happiness, many in the Christian music industry are likely still hiding the fact that they are gay out of fear of losing their career, or simply not being able to reconcile their faith and sexuality.

“I can’t be a poster child for people to come out," Boltz said. "But I can say everyone needs people in their lives they can be honest with.”

Boltz said that he plans to continue writing and singing songs in the future. Now he'll be able to share fully who he is and what he believes.

"I think being partnered is a possibility, but what I’m learning is that before you can be happy with anybody else, you have to be happy with yourself and I’m finally coming to that place,” Boltz said.

Find out more about Ray Boltz's music by visiting his shopify site.

Photo courtesy of Erkin Athletics

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