B Stigma-Free high school intern Andrew Burbank and his aide, Joe Ferraro, interviewed country music star Rachel Potter about her bold new song, Jesus and Jezebel and gay rights. Andrew provides the introduction, and Joe follows up about b’ing stigma-free.
Singer-songwriter Rachel Potter is off to a remarkable career! She has worked as a waitress at Hooters, in retail at the Gap, and she performed at Disney World and on Broadway. Now, she is a star country music artist and actor.
Rachel wrote her first song when she was just 12 years old; it was an emotional time for her, coping with her mother’s diabetes diagnosis. She said that her minister set her first song to music and helped her get a Christian record deal – initially all of her songs were about God. She competed on the TV show The X Factor, and came in 11th place. During the show she covered many eclectic artists from The Isley Brothers and Queen to Beyoncé.
Rachel Potter is Christian, a little bit country, and unafraid to mix traditional Nashville sounds with the squall of marriage equality.
“I don’t see Jesus and Jezebel as a challenge to the church,” said Potter of her single, an affirming ballad written on a friend who came out as gay. Potter released the song to openly declare her support for same-sex marriage, as well as disagree with the Christian church’s official stance on homosexuality. The video for Jesus and Jezebel features Potter – who refers to herself as a Jezebel in the song – alongside positive Christian images. At one point the music video shows a cardboard cutout of a same-sex couple visiting a church.
”I was told my whole life that gays would be going to hell, but I refuse to believe that people I love so much would have that fate,” said Potter. “If Jesus is who he says he is in the Bible, and if Jesus is the person everyone else says he is, then there really should be no issue here.”
Though Potter said she grew up in the Baptist religion, even attending preschool at her local church, working in theatre and the music industry has brought her into close contact with the LGBTQ community. To her, supporting marriage equality and fighting the stigma around it is a common sense decision.
While Potter thinks the stigma surrounding gay equality should be a non-issue, her fans don’t always agree with her.
“There used to be outright brawls on my Facebook page whenever I posted something on gay equality,” said Potter. “Someone said I was pushing the gay agenda once. I don’t even know what gay agenda means.”
Potter thinks the message of Jesus is clouded by dogma.
“If Jesus ran the Church, it’d be run like a hospital,” said Potter. “Church shouldn’t be like a group of privileged white people getting together to congratulate each other on being awesome, it’s a place where people who are hurting and are lost should come to find healing.”
Beyond gay equality, Potter is passionate about disability rights and the fight against transphobia. Potter cautions people in assuming that everyone in the trans community has received as much love and support as Caitlyn Jenner has. Acceptance is still out of reach for many, and one of her friends, a trans woman of color, died of an aneurism several years ago as a result of unsafe hormones bought on the black market.
”Not all transgender people are wealthy, former Olympians,” said Potter.
Potter, whose mother was a special education teacher, hopes to write songs in support of other marginalized groups in the future.
“The greatest stories ever told are of the underdog,” Potter concludes.
Andrew Burbank is a 19-year-old senior at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, in Fairfield, Connecticut. Andrew has a special interest in music, and enjoys a wide variety of musical genres. During his high school internship with B Stigma-Free he applied his talent with tunes to help the organization’s musical messaging. Andrew has cerebral palsy, a condition involving brain development and muscle coordination. He works hard and has a positive attitude, and he does not let his disability get in his way. After graduating he will begin post-secondary education, pursuing life skills and job training.
In addition to being a special education aide at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, Joe Ferraro is a freelance music reporter for the New Haven Register. Joe’s interests include LGBTQ activism, poetry, and music. Joe says that the latter takes up far too much of his time; he plays bass in a NYC-based post-punk band and loves dragging his eyes over minutiae like liner notes. Not one to limit himself to a single element of geek culture, Joe regularly binges on obscure film, anime, and video games when the guitar isn’t calling his name.