“It’s the stuff we love when we’re young that sticks with us the most,” said Amy Grant last night while she was in concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I think I had thought that sentiment before, but I’d never verbalized it. It’s something that I’ve thought about since her concert, which was amazing. I believe everyone has a singer or music group that resonates for them the way Amy Grant resonates for me. She is central to my adolescence and college and even early 20’s. For my entire life, friendships have been built over a shared love of this woman.
I experienced a wide range of emotions last night. When she walked out after a cursory introduction and started singing You’re not Alone in this World, I was ebullient to be at an Amy Grant concert again after a 22 year gap. When she sang, 1974, I remembered being in my Bible college dorm listening to her on my Sony Walkman. When she sang Hope Set High, I thought about my years as a youth minister and the kids that were in my youth group and how for years after leaving the ministry, I felt like I’d let them down. When she sang Sing Your Praise to the Lord, I thought about its songwriter, Rich Mullins, who sang at nearly every Christ in Youth conference I ever attended. When she sang a cover of Put a Little Love in Your Heart for her encore, I thought it was a perfect choice because, in my mind, Amy Grant has always been about love.
The crowd was very electic last night. My friend Richard and I were sandwiched between straight couples in their fifties. There were also young straight couples, girls night out groups, and of course, several members of the GLBT community. Richard and I became friends when we met through mutual friends at a Happy Hour in a Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake and one of us mentioned Amy Grant. I actually think that I gravitated to Amy Grant as a boy because I was gay. She’s Christian music’s Cher.
There was a lesbian couple sitting in the row in front of us. When Amy Grant started singing one of her new songs, Don’t Try So Hard, I saw them lean in and whisper something to each other. One of them reached out and rubbed the other woman’s back. The lyrics about the gift of God’s grace resonated with them and then I looked around at the audience, many of whom were having an emotional reaction. And I myself, absorbed the lyrics, I remembered my 17 or 18 or 19-year-old self who tried so hard to not be gay. When did I realize or will I ever fully realize that I’m lovely even with my scars?