Jon Foreman, frontman of the Grammy Award winning Christian rock band Switchfoot, recently turned heads when he appeared to affirm people living an LGBTQ+ lifestyle in a video posted to the band’s TikTok page.
In the video, which has received over 22,000 views, Foreman replies to openly queer artist Grace Baldridge who goes by Semler on stage. Earlier this year, Semler independently released an album titled “Preacher’s Kid,” which reached the number one spot on the iTunes Christian album chart, overtaking Lauren Daigle’s “Look Up Child.”
Semler’s album comes with an “explicit warning” tag and condemns many aspects of her Christian upbringing. In the song “Bethlehem,” Baldridge questions the historicity of Jesus’ birth, talks about marrying another woman, says “[email protected]#k a saviour,” and accuses missions trips of being scams.
“Preacher’s Kid” drew praise from deconstructing exvangelical Kevin Max. The DC Talk member told Baldridge, “Excited for you and for this breakthrough @GraceBaldridge … it’s high time Christian music got a shake up with a message of reality & hope beyond the homogenized CCM…kinda historic, definitely amazing.”
Baldridge posted a video, viewed over 62,000 times, letting her followers know she is a “big” Switchfoot fan, recounting that the first song she shared with another girl was one of Switchfoot’s. But the “Preacher’s Kid” artist questioned if Switchfoot affirms the LGBTQ+ community.
“No one really knows if Switchfoot likes the gays or not. We don’t know. They’ve never said it,” Baldridge expressed. “I think it’s important for Christians to understand that the harm levied against LGBTQ+ people has been so specific, so the affirmation needs to be just as specific.”
Screaming ‘Gay Rights’ at a Switchfoot Concert
Last week, Baldridge set out on a mission to get her question answered by attending a Switchfoot concert. Her plan was to scream out “gay rights” after they played their song “Dare You to Move” to see what type of reaction it invoked.
The independent singer documented her social experiment on TikTok. When Baldridge and her friend pulled into the parking lot, she immediately said, “Everyone here. Everyone here looks like the person that hated me the most in youth [group].”
During the band’s set, Foreman said, “If we disagree, then chances are we’re human.” Baldridge saw this as her big moment. She belted out, “Gay Rights!” The chance that Switchfoot heard her is slim, given that the band was still playing music and members all have in-ear monitors that muffle crowd noise.
Baldridge had hoped that when she yelled “gay rights,” the crowd would have reacted and Foreman would have chimed in, affirming the band supports gay rights. This was, as she describes it, her “delusional dream scenario.”
When Baldridge’s friend asked why she needed to hear that, she responded, “Because in Christian spaces, Switchfoot’s music was the safe music. Jon Foreman was like that message of safety…then you learn about the bait-and-switch, and for so many of us it was like ‘Jon wouldn’t do that,’ because he was such a leader. The Christian community is so disproportionately harmful to LGBTQ+ people, so you can’t just be like lukewarm on it.”
In reference to Foreman’s statement, “We might disagree,” Baldridge made it clear that this isn’t an area in which she’s willing to agree to disagree.
Jon Foreman Answers Baldridge
Less than 24 hours later, Foreman posted a video thanking Baldridge for attending the show the night before, saying he had seen her previous video. “Yes,” Foreman said, “I support your rights to freedoms. I want you to feel loved and supported. I want you to feel treasured and valued and seen. I want all love and joy and beauty and truth for you.”
“Love and embrace has always been central to our story and our song,” Foreman continued. “We need our differences. I am so glad that you were there last night. In fact, it breaks my heart to think that you would not be accepted. Let me correct that. You and your journey and your story are welcome at a Switchfoot show.”
Recalling what he said the night before, the “Meant to Live” singer went on to say, “If you look different than me, if you vote different than me, if you believe different than me, if you love different than me, you are beloved. You are my sister. You are my brother. I need you like you need me…Our music has always been for anyone who’s open-minded enough to jump into the dialogue—agnostic, atheist, consumerist, Jewish, Muslim, doubters, believers, haters, lovers, LGBTQ+—and everyone else who’s brave enough to look for meaning and truly jump into that.”
“No one else is an expert on someone else’s experience, and I can’t pretend to know your pain,” Foreman told Baldridge. “I can only know my own. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit in.”
Foreman also shared that he knows what it’s like to struggle with depression and anxiety. Switchfoot’s frontman explained he has sometimes felt voiceless in a “hypocritical culture that feels deeply flawed.” Apologizing to Baldridge for the pain and hardships she has been made to endure, Foreman said that he hopes her “wounds heal,” and that they wouldn’t define her.
Encouraging her to continue writing songs and “creating beauty,” Foreman told Baldridge to be honest and chase “truth, light, and love.” He encouraged her to find the good in people, even the ones who are different than her.