OUT Magazine Features “The Gospel According To Levi”

Out Magazine, January 2007 issue.

Little did I know that three years later I would win a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical on Broadway and Out Magazine would honor me in their Out 100 for the year 2010.

In 2007, this felt so fancy to me. In my world, it was rare for a magazine to arrange a special photo shoot on a set with a crew. I was very proud of this feature.

No Fit Like Levi’s.

What happens when a Christian musician’s queer side hits below the Bible Belt?

“Lord God!” exclaims singer-songwriter and sometime-actor Levi Kreis. The earthy, handsome 32-year-old from Oliver Springs, Tenn., is not in the throes of a fiery sermon; he’s describing just how sexy Matthew McConaughey-his costar in the 2001 film Frailty— was in person.

Kreis, whose hook-driven, genre-bending new album, The Gospel According to Levi, is out at the end of this month, wasn’t always so forthcoming about his lust for hunky Texans. His folks groomed him for a career in a conservative Baptist denomination. “By the time I was 12,” he recalls, “I was singing and preaching at a different church every weekend.”

Afraid his burgeoning same-sex attraction would thwart his ministerial aspirations, a 15-year-old Kreis checked into “reparative therapy” at Exodus International. He later scored a scholarship to Belmont University in Nashville – and a lucrative record deal with a Christian label. But after six years of intense therapy, his attraction to men hadn’t disappeared; he began to believe that one could be gay and Christian. He confided this to a roommate and soon found himself kicked out of school and dropped by his record label.

Kreis’s new sound deftly combines traces of Ryan Adams and Rufus Wainwright with a sultrier, dance-pop appeal. Now living in L.A. with his “fi-ancé,” Craig, Kreis says he’s not bitter about his days in the Christian music closet.

“Even though the church put me through the wringer,” he admits, “it’s still a part of me even if I no longer adhere to the belief system. It’s this kind of strange love-hate relationship when you grow up in the Bible Belt; you get to the end of your journey, and you realize that you don’t buy it – you might even fight it, but you still love it.”