Because Jesus is Better: An interview with spoken word artist Jackie Hill
Jackie Hill is a Christian poet whose spoken words have moved the hearts of listeners around the world. Ex-lesbian, her testimony of redemption and grace has been featured by in a variety of publications.
For those who might not be familiar with you, would you briefly share your testimony?
I was raised in St. Louis in a single parent household by my mother. I had a pretty regular childhood apart from being fatherless, (which is sadly normal to most African American children), being molested at five, and being introduced to porn around the age of seven. So it’s safe to say that my early influences consisted of some neglect when it came to my father and perversion when it came to what I saw on TV.
Besides that, I had an aunt in my life that took me to church consistently from a toddler to an early teen. This consistent exposure to the gospel affected me greatly even during my rebellion. To make a long story short, around high school I began to act out on the same sex desires that I had been having since as early as I could remember with a particular young lady. This ended up becoming a lifestyle that I was very open about. I entered into several sexual relationships with women, and frequented gay clubs and pride parades. But even in this midst of it all, I lacked peace. The knowledge I had about God as child “haunted” me in a way. I knew without a doubt that my life was not pleasing to him but I didn’t have the strength nor the desire to change.
That is until the age of 19, when God convicted me of my sin. And not just homosexuality but my entire life. All of my “head knowledge” became a reality to me. I saw that I deserved death but I also saw and believed that Jesus could not only give me eternal life, but that he could also give me the power to deny all that I love more than him. I repented of my sins that day in my bedroom, believing that Jesus was simply better. And I’ve been different ever since.
The “Same Love” performanace by Macklemore at the Grammy Awards made news. Why did you feel compelled to respond?
Though it grieved me, it did not shock me. I do not expect the world, or those that are in it to boast about God in a way that brings a true reverence and respect for him and his word. What happened at the Grammy Awards was simply an outward display of the inner workings of sinful hearts in my opinion. With that said, I was filled with compassion for those who saw it and could be led to believe that God cannot change the affections of someone struggling with same-sex desires. That performance was a well orchestrated lie. God in his word has shown that those who fling themselves onto the mercies of his son will change. It is not possible to know God and remain the same.
So I would encourage believers to boast about the power of Jesus wherever they are. No matter if they are teachers or construction workers. As the opportunity arises, boast on our Lord. Show them why he is better. Jesus prayed to the father in John 17 that we may not be taken out of the world. We are still here to point our fingers to the glorious face of Jesus so that men may see and bow down to the truth. We should count it a privilege to be here at such a time as this, to be used to draw many to himself.
It seems like the gay community can be tight knit. When you became a Christian, it would seem you are truly counting a cost and giving up not only a lifestyle but also a vocal and supportive community. With this in mind, how might the church be better equipped to serve Christians who once embraced the homosexual lifestyle?
That is very true. When I left my lifestyle, I had to leave the majority of my friends. I had to create new hobbies. It was a huge adjustment to say the least. For the church to serve those who were once in that environment, I would encourage them to simply be the church. Love in deed and in truth. Disciple new converts. Train older ones. Do the same things you would do for any person saved by the grace of God.
Sexual temptation affects many people. Even though the temptations are different, is there a common way to fight lust for those who struggle with same-sex attraction and those who struggle with opposite-sex attraction? How have you learned to fight these desires?
I do agree. I believe the difference is that, in our society, the culture has done a good job of making this particular affection an entire identity. So when someone comes to Christ and is tempted with same-sex desires, if their identity is not rooted in the truth of God’s word, their reasoning may be that “If I am still tempted with this, then I must still be gay.” This reasoning is dangerous because it can further tempt someone to stop fleeing from sin and to just “accept” it as who they are instead. Understanding that alone helped me fight my desires. It helped me to no longer be discouraged by my temptations. I began to read about what it means to be in Christ (Ephesians 1 is a good reference for this kind of study) and how that applies to my struggles.
What are you doing now? Are you still a spoken word artist?
Besides planning for my wedding, I still travel around doing spoken word poetry. Spoken word poetry is simply performing a written poem in an artistic way. I’m sure if David was around in our day and age, he might’ve been doing the same thing.
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage! Would you share more?
Yes indeed! I met Preston Perry at a spoken word event called Lyricist Lounge back in 2009 when I was 20. I was doing my testimony poem called “My life as a stud” for the first time and he was sharing a poem about his testimony as well. We connected and remained friends for about three years. We both finally confessed our feelings about each other about two years ago and began courting with very clear intentions that we would be getting married eventually. He proposed to me through a spoken word poem called “The Covenant” at the same event we met at in August and the rest is, or should I say, will be history.