Jackie Hill Perry, a hip-hop artist and poet and now author, from St. Louis, recently opened her heart, sharing some of her deepest secrets in her book, “Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been.” Freelance writer Maina Mwaura had the opportunity recently to sit down and talk to Jackie. Here is the video of that candid interview, followed by the transcript.

Maina:  I’m here with author Jackie Hill Perry. How are you doing?

Jackie: I’m good.

Maina: I got to tell you, it’s good to be here with you.

Jackie: Yeah. Thank you.

Maina: We’ve talked before, but I enjoyed the book.

Jackie: I’m glad.

Maina: A lot. I’ve marked it up here, as you can tell.

Jackie: That’s great. With some really, really bright Post-it notes.

Maina: Yeah, I’m sorry, but that’s all I had near me.

Jackie: I mean, I’m not mad at you.

Maina: Jackie, go ahead and call it out. It goes with the title, though, too.

Jackie: That’s true.

Maina: I see that there.

Jackie: It’s kind of in the same scheme.

Maina: Where did the title come from, Gay Girl, Good God?

Jackie: Well, when we were in the titling meeting, they preface it by saying that there is no such thing as a bad title, but there were a lot of bad titles being-

Maina: There are some bad titles, yes.

Jackie: … being thrown out, and a lot of them were very devotional-like, which I think is typical of Christian books. I think for me, I just thought … It was like someone said, “A lot of these titles don’t seem to match Jackie’s personality. She’s very bold. Very honest. Very edgy at times.” And I was like, “Oh, so I can just say what I want.” And they said, “Yeah. I said, “Oh. What about Gay Girl, Good God?” I just said it, you know? Of course, they had to go back to the powers that be, to see if that was all right.

Maina: I was wondering. I was like, “How did they get this one approved?”

Jackie: Yeah. But, but I feel like the world is so honest and abrasive in their beliefs. So to me, it was like, “Why not make this title as bold as it can possibly be to show that I’m not trying to be vague about what I think God has done, or what I Know God has done.”

Maina: Why’d you feel the need to be so open about your life in this book?

Jackie: Yeah. I always have been. I mean, I was like that before I had the Holy Spirit. I was just one of those people where it’s like, if your breath stink, I’m going to let you know, you know? What the Holy Spirit has done is reigned that in, but at the same time, if I believe that being honest or authentic is beneficial for another person, I’m willing to do that.

Maina: Why the title? And, can you tell us a little bit about your life before you found Christ?

Jackie: Yeah. Before Jesus, I just was, I think, the typical human. Just thinking that my own perceptions of goodness and that being autonomous was a joyful thing to do. I knew about Jesus just because my aunt, who was a believer, took me to church all the time. I saw how Jesus, you know, I guess governed how she lived her life, and how she thought, and the music she listened to, and the way she dressed, but to me it didn’t seem attractive. It was just kind of like, “You could love Jesus. That’s cool, but I don’t think He should be my Lord because he just changes too much. He has too much control.” I’m just-

Maina: You didn’t want any part of that, yeah. Yeah.

Jackie: … Yeah, I’m good. I want to be able to do me. So, if I could take Jesus and, I would’ve, but I knew, just from spending time in Sunday school, and from reading the scriptures, that Jesus would not be all right with that. And so, that was just kind of me. You know? It’s just Jesus is cool, but I’m going to do what I want to do.

Maina: Putting your life out there, especially if it comes to sexuality, where did that come from? Why did you decide to do that, when a lot of people would have maybe wrote a chapter on it? And said, “Hey, this is me.” Maybe a page or two. You decided to write a book on it, though?

Jackie: Right.

Maina: Why?

Jackie: One, I don’t think our testimonies are our own. I really think that God in His providence allows us to go through things, in that when He snatches us out, I’m able to point to people, point to Him and say, “Hey, look at what he did for me. I’m sure that He could do the same for you.” Even the woman at the well. So many people were converted to Jesus by her simply telling them what Jesus did for her. You know? She left the little thing of water and went back, and was like, “Hey, this man’s just talking about my business.”

Maina: Everything about me. Yeah.

Jackie: Yeah, and they started believing because of him, so I feel the same way. I feel compelled to talk about it, but also it’s what we talk about in the culture all the time. We’re always talking about gender identity or sexuality in the church and outside of the church. If I can add to the narrative, I feel like I have to do that. Yeah.

Maina: So in the book, where you talk about some pretty hard stuff. On page 29, you talk about, “My father loved me sometimes.” Can you explain that?

Jackie: Yeah. It literally is literal.

Maina: Very much so.

Jackie: Yeah. He would be in my life for maybe four months. Be active, be present, answer my phone calls, et cetera, and then it would disappear for a year or two years, where I wouldn’t hear from him, wouldn’t see him at birthday parties, he wouldn’t answer my calls. Stuff like that, and so it was just an inconsistent kind of love that I didn’t know what to do with.

Maina: Then on page 36, you go, and I’m going to read some of it here because I thought it was one of those kind of moments where I had to put the book down a little bit. Not a little bit, a lot. Skips my wife to go, “Can you explain this to me?” Because you’re pretty open about what happened in the basement. You go on to say, “To me, it was only something that happened to which I was too embarrassed to tell.” What you’re obviously talking about, and that’s what I was talking about, is you were sexually abused?

Jackie: Right.

Maina: Why put that in the book?

Jackie: Because most women were. Most boys are. Statistically-

Maina: And we don’t talk about it a lot.

Jackie: … we don’t talk about it. So, it’s damaged me. It’s damaged how I see men. It’s damaged how I see sex. It’s damaged how I see intimacy. So, I think that’s a part of my story, and that’s a part of the reason why I think I lived a life the way that I did. And, I think when you go to the latter chapters about my relationship with my husband, I have to talk about the molestation for you to have context for why it was so hard for me to receive his love because I had never received love from a man before in my life. You know?

Jackie: If my dad was inconsistent, and so it’s like, “Oh, you say you love me, but you don’t actively love me. That’s confusing.” And then the other man, where the only intimacy I received from a man was me being the object of his lust. So, my whole context for men, and intimacy, and sex was just damaged from the jump, and so I had to communicate that for you to really understand how powerful it is now for me to be able to walk free from that by the power of the Gospel.

Maina: Now, for a lot of people, they may say, “Okay, your father wasn’t there. You’ve been sexually abused, so that means that’s why you would be-

Jackie: Gay.

Maina: … gay?”

Jackie: Right.

Maina: And you’re quick to point out in the book, that is not-

Jackie: Exactly.

Maina: … the reason why.

Jackie: Because, one, I remember experiencing same-sex affections before all of that. I remember in kindergarten being attracted to little girls on the playground. That was before I was molested, and I think that was before I was cognizant of my father’s absence. But two, I don’t see scripture blaming trauma for our decisions. Do they affect our decisions? Sure. But I think the reason why I ultimately became a gay woman was because I’m a sinner, and I was acting out on a nature that I’ve inherited from Adam, not just because of my trauma. I think the trauma just allowed it to make more sense for me to choose the sins that I chose.

Maina: What a very interesting world. I was with some group of Generation Zers recently.

Jackie: Interesting.

Maina: It was very interesting on how they saw homosexuality. It seems like we’re in this, either it’s all or nothing almost. For a lot of believers they would say, “Man, I’m against it.” They see it as a sin. Then these Generation Zers who are just all accepting of it, in fact. How does someone handle if they want to minister in that culture, or they want to love their family member? Love their friends, but at the same time, they believe it’s a sin. How did they deal with that?

Jackie: Yeah. I think it’s a tension that Jesus did so well.

Maina: Very well.

Jackie: When, with the adulterous woman, or the woman caught in adultery when they brought her to him and said, “Hey. The law says that this woman should be stoned,” which was actually theologically correct. The wages of sin is death.

Maina: That’s what was going on.

Jackie: Yeah, He did two things. He says, “Hey, I don’t condemn you.” That’s grace, but he also says, “Go and sin no more.” And so, I think many of us are on one side where it’s like-

Maina: All of nothing, almost.

Jackie: … Yeah. It’s just go and sin no more. Just law. Or, “I don’t condemn you.” Where it’s just this fake grace. I think Jesus, you see him doing both, and so I think that’s really what we got to do. I think we’ve over-complicated how to love people while at the same time holding true to our convictions. I think it’s simply do what Jesus did. I think the same spirit that Jesus had is the same spirit that is in us, and so you simply ask Him to help you, and you follow in His footsteps as written about in the scriptures.

Maina: Yeah. You talk about a number of people who I would say loved you into Christ, basically. Your cousin was one of them.

Jackie: For sure.

Maina: What was that like? And, because you were very much an adult involved with-

Jackie: Sort of.

Maina: … sort of an adult maybe, but you were in a relationship?

Jackie: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Maina: A same-sex relationship. What was that like when, “Okay. I’ve got to deal with Jesus?”

Jackie: Yeah. Terrifying. I feel like that’s the best adjective.

Maina: Really?

Jackie: Yeah, because …

Maina: Because you have lived a life, for the most part, yeah.

Jackie: Yeah. When sin is all you know, and just doing you is all you know how to do, and Jesus is telling you to relinquish all of that to follow Him, that’s scary.

Maina: It’s very scary.

Jackie: It’s, “What will it be like on the other side of this? Will I actually be happy? Will I have joy?”

Maina: Because you don’t know.

Jackie: I have no idea. Even the Christians, I knew maybe two Christians that seemed happy, but most of them seemed like to obey God was such begrudging work. It was like they just-

Maina: Why are you doing this?

Jackie: Yeah. They just didn’t want to go to Hell, but it was like, “Is there no pleasure in knowing Him? Why do I seem happier than you do when I’m the one that’s an idolater?” So, I think I was just confused, and I was afraid, but I think that that’s what the Holy Spirit does, is that He allows us to have faith. I had the faith to believe that even if I’m not happier on the other side, even if it’s harder to do it, I’m willing to do it, because I believe that Jesus has to be a better alternative than what I’ve been doing before.

Maina: When you look at your life now, you’re a mom.

Jackie: Yes.

Maina: Mother of two. Not getting a lot of sleep.

Jackie: Right.

Maina: Married, speaker, author. A lot has changed.

Jackie: Yeah. Completely.

Maina: Yeah. Does it amaze you?

Jackie: Yeah. This word is so played out, but it is surreal, I think, when I consider who I used to be. I was talking to my husband. We had dinner the other night. He was like, “I forget that you used to be gay.” I was like, “You know I have a whole book about it, right?”

Maina: You have a whole book written about this, yeah.

Jackie: “You’re in it, by the way.” But as I told him, I was a completely different person.

Maina: Wow.

Jackie: A completely different person. The way I spoke was different. The way I walked was different. The way my face felt was different. How I interacted with people was different. But, that literally is conversion. How is it possible that a person could be filled with the spirit of the living God and remain the same? It’s not possible.

Maina: But what’s interesting, you talked about in the book the sense of like even your clothing. You talk about that. What do you say to someone who is struggling, wondering? They’re in the same sex lifestyle, and then one of them may be thinking, “Okay, I know I need to make a change,” but at the same time, that’s all they may know?”

Jackie: Well, I think the way change has been discussed historically hasn’t been clear enough.

Maina: Wow.

Jackie: Where I think change has been communicated is like you’re coming to Jesus to be straight. You’re coming to Jesus for Him to help you with your sexual lusts. That’s not Jesus’ aim. Jesus’ aim is for you to come to Him so that you can be made right with the Father. And, being made right with the Father doesn’t mean that you won’t ever experience same-sex temptations ever again, but it does mean that through the power of the spirit, with community, with prayer, you will be able to resist them. I think God cares about having all of you. I think that’s what’s honestly kept many people from coming to the faith, is that they think only one aspect of them needs to be repented of.

Maina: And he wants all.

Jackie: He wants all of it. Your whole heart is jacked up.

Maina: Yeah, everything.

Jackie: All of us is messed up. And so, I think that humbles the sinner to know, no, there’s not one part of you that Jesus wants to fix or stuff like that. It’s like, no, God wants the entire heart and then having the entire heart, you’re able to bear fruits of the spirit in more ways than one.

Maina: Two more questions. Page 72. I want to tell you, I’ve marked this book up a little too much, probably, because you were pointing out the highlighted marks here. You go on to say this. “Allowing my sexuality to rule me was a death sentence, but so was everything else.” Unpack that for a little bit.

Jackie: Yeah. I was holistically a sinner.

Maina: Say that one more time. Like we say in the black church. Say that one more time.

Jackie: I was holistically a sinner.

Maina: That’s everything.

Jackie: Yeah. The way I thought, the way I spoke, the way I communicated with people, it was all governed by my sin nature. I didn’t like authority. I was lustful. I watched pornography. I used to curse people out. Vengeance was mine, and not the Lord’s. It’s everything, and I think I had to realize that. Yeah, let’s say, hypothetically, I just put my homosexuality on the shelf. Is God still pleased with me?

Maina: No.

Jackie: Absolutely not.

Maina: There are other areas also.

Jackie: Absolutely not. I am still a wreck, and I am still in need of redemption and to be made new, and so yeah. There was a lot of me that needed to be made new. Yeah. There was a lot of me that needed to die. I think a lot of that kind of thinking has come out of how people have engaged with those in the gay community. We’ve only centered our evangelism around their sexuality, and not around their person. When we deal with the person, and the holistic nature of how sin spreads throughout our lives and our characters-

Maina: You’re more than just that one area?

Jackie: … Yeah. Then someone is able to actually see themselves rightly in light of the Gospel, and not just, “Oh, 80% of me is great. Just, that’s that 20% that God don’t have.”

Maina: Which we do very well within the American church.

Jackie: Yeah.

Maina: When God wants all?

Jackie: Yeah. All of it.

Maina: Did you say everything you want to say in the book?

Jackie: When I finished it, I did.

Maina: What was the process like? Because, I mean, I’ve read a lot of books obviously, but you lay out everything in here. There’s nothing in here that is unturned. What was that process like, laying it all out?”

Jackie: Normal. I’ve been doing that for a long time now, and so it was everything that I’ve been saying for the last decade, I’m just writing it on the page.

Maina: Wow.

Jackie: But I think if I were to add anything, I think I would’ve spent more time on the concept of orientation because it is a fairly new theory that I think it holds way too much weight in how we see people, how we [crosstalk 00:16:04].

Maina: Can you unpack that for me a little bit for me, because I want to make sure that we get that?

Jackie: Yeah.

Maina: The concept of orientation, explain that just a little bit.

Jackie: I’m still learning, but when you look at the scriptures, for example, you don’t see the term heterosexual. You see natural or unnatural. Even homosexuality in some cases is not a noun but a verb. But we’ve made it a noun. We’ve made it, “Oh, because you experience these affections, that’s who you are.” That might be why it’s so hard for people to understand conversion, and temptation, and sanctification.

Maina: I think it is, yeah.

Jackie: Because we’ve put our personhood in our affections instead of basing it on the fact that we are just image bearers of the living God, and how should that govern how we see everything. And so, I don’t know, I think we just have to change the way we view ourselves and view people, where there’s this hierarchy, I’m heterosexual, she’s homosexual. It’s like, no, all of our sexuality is messed up, if we want to be honest.

Maina: Be honest about it, yeah.

Jackie: Because me lusting after someone that’s not my spouse is just as perverted, and just as anti-the design of God as it is for someone who is same-sex attracted to lust after the same sex. So, I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out, but I think it’d be helpful for the church, and how we counsel people, to stop seeing people or labeling people, according to who they love and who they like, instead of seeing them as God has intended for them to be seen. Does that make sense?

Maina: It makes a lot of sense. That means there’s another book, then?

Jackie: One day. I have a lot of research, but one day.

Maina: I hope so. You did well in this.

Jackie: Thank you.

Maina: I got to tell you, I’ve read it a lot, from cover to cover, and I couldn’t put it down.

Jackie: Amen.

Maina: At times I had to put it down, I was still going, “I need to get back to this.” It’s a good book. Thank you. Good job.

Jackie: Thank you.

Maina Mwaura resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Zyan. He is a graduate of Liberty University and New Orleans Theological Seminary and has served on staff at several churches. You can find Maina‘s written work at mainaspeaks.com.