Vicky Beeching announced that she is gay in an interview with the Independent yesterday.
The 35-year-old Christian commentator and former worship leader described an intense emotional struggle – and even illness – resulting from trying to hide her sexuality within the hostile environment of the evangelical church.
She has been attracted to women since she was a young teenager, but only came out to her parents at Easter this year.
She said at the age of 13 she felt like it was ripping her in half. "I knew I couldn't carry on. I was trying to align the loving God I knew and believed in with this horrendous reality of what was going on inside me," she said.
Beeching has come under attack in the last year for her support for same-sex marriage. Her stance has cost her financially, as her worship songs which were a major source of income have been boycotted by many conservative Christians, particularly in the US.
Having to keep her sexuality hidden eventually took its toll on her physical health. Her decision to come out was prompted by a degenerative auto-immune condition that caused scarring on her face, which she was told may have been triggered by stress.
She hopes that by sharing her own story she would be an encouragement to other young people who are struggling to reconcile their feelings with the Church's teaching.
"What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love," she said. "I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people."
"The Church's teaching was the reason that I lived in so much shame and isolation and pain for all those years. But rather than abandon it and say it's broken, I want to be part of the change," she added.