The Ministry of Jackie Hill Perry
Jackie Hill-Perry (née Jackie Hill, born June 21, 1989) is an American poet, writer, and hip-hop artist from St. Louis. Hill-Perry initially garnered popularity for her performances of spoken word pieces such as “My Life as a Stud”, “A Poem About Weed”, and “Jig-a-Boo” at the Passion 4 Christ Movement (P4CM). She has written for various Christian ministry organizations, such as The Resurgence and John Piper’s Desiring God, on the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. She signed to the Portland, Oregon-based Christian hip-hop label Humble Beast in January 2014, and released her debut album on November 4, 2014, available both commercially and for free. Hill married fellow spoken word artist Preston Perry in March 2014, and now has a baby girl.
An encounter with sexual abuse as a child contributed to the confusion over her gender identity she faced while growing up, and Hill-Perry at age seventeen discovered that she was a lesbian. She lived a life of sexual promiscuity and struggled with drug and pornography addiction, until her conversion to Christianity in 2008. Her self-proclaimed status as a former lesbian has sparked controversy, with many gay rights activists stating that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that Hill-Perry’s experience lends credence to the idea of conversion therapy. Hill-Perry, however, maintains her belief that God can transform lives and that He empowers believers to resist temptation.
Early life (birth to 2008)
Jackie Hill-Perry was born Jackie Hill on June 21, 1989, in St. Louis. She grew up in the fatherless household and experienced sexual abuse at the age of five. Hill’s upbringing instilled her with a knowledge of God, and she attended church until she was ten. However, her encounter with sexual abuse, combined with school bullying and a lack of attention from boys contributed to her struggle with gender dysphoria. Since the age of four, Hill felt as though she should have been born a boy, and at age six she started imitating male tendencies, such as standing up to use the toilet. At age 17, she discovered that she was a lesbian, and started pursuing multiple serial relationships with other women. Hill’s second girlfriend suggested that she be a stud, a woman who takes the masculine role in a lesbian relationship. Hill explains that
I was never the ‘cute chick’ but when I became a stud, it seemed like every girl wanted me. I would be in straight clubs and have girls throwing themselves at me. For a girl that’s insecure and craves to feel loved, that was like a drug for me.
Frequenting gay clubs and gay pride parades, Hill became caught up in a life of drug and pornography addiction, rebellion, and homosexual promiscuity. However, in October 2008, she converted to Christianity and turned away from her previous lifestyle.
Conversion and current activities (2008–present)
As recounted in her poem “My Life as a Stud”, Hill states that “one day, the Lord spoke to me. He said, ‘She will be the death of you.’ In that moment, the scripture for the wages of sin equal death finally clicked.” Hill left her girlfriend, returned to church, and started writing poetry. She performed her first spoken word piece at a P4CM poetry conference in 2010 and met Preston Perry, the man who would eventually become her husband. Over time, Hill gradually lost interest in women, and Preston proposed to her in August 2013 through the spoken word poem “The Covenant”. The couple married in March 2014, and Hill-Perry now has a one-year-old baby girl. Hill-Perry attributes that change in her sexuality to God’s transformation of her life. Record label Humble Beast announced on January 7, 2014, that it had signed Hill-Perry as an artist. She has appeared as a guest musician on several Christian hip-hop recordings, including Because You Asked by Swoope and Instruments of Mercy by Beautiful Eulogy. Her debut album, The Art of Joy, was produced by Beautiful Eulogy and released on November 4, 2014, Hill-Perry is also a staff member of the Legacy Movement ministry.
In 2016, she, alongside JGivens and John Givez, was featured on Lecrae’s “Misconceptions 3” from the album Church Clothes 3.
Stance on homosexuality
Jackie Hill-Perry maintains that she is an ex-lesbian and that her transition to heterosexuality is among the changes God worked in her life. On July 31, 2013, Christian hip hop radio show Wade-O Radio published an interview with Hill-Perry where she spoke out against the Macklemore song “Same Love”. Citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, she stated that
The word of God itself, apart from Jackie Hill, testifies that people can change. So if the word of God is the word of God, then we need to deal with that and believe that it’s true. I think we’ve made God very little if we believe that he cannot change people. If he can make a moon, stars and a galaxy that we have yet to fully comprehend, how can he not simply change my desires?
This stance has been criticized by many, particularly gay rights activists. According to The Washington Times, Hill-Perry’s experience “runs counter to pronouncements by gay rights groups that exclaim sexuality as an inherent, immutable characteristic”, and, even further, comes amid “wide-ranging reports about the psychological dangers of so-called ‘reparative therapy,’ which aims to change the orientation of homosexuals.” Hill-Perry estimates that about 40 percent of the messages she has received over social media has been negative. When Hill married Preston Perry in March 2014, one critic accused a couple of both being gay and marrying to “play God to a bunch of ignorant people.” However, Hill-Perry, in her 2013 interview with Wade-O Radio, clarified that she does not believe that every Christian with a homosexual disposition will lose those desires.
If God chooses not to change my desires, he has promised to give me his Holy Spirit that will help me flee from them. There are people who were alcoholics for 20 years, went through rehab and they don’t drink anymore, but sometimes they may be tested. If they see a bottle of whiskey, they’re going to want that whiskey, but they have a choice.
In an interview with The Gospel Coalition, Hill-Perry cited Mali Music, Propaganda, and Ebony Moore as “a few people who inspire me to be great at my craft.” Theologically, she names pastor John Piper as a major influence and even based Art of Joy on Piper’s book Desiring God, where Piper explains his concept of Christian hedonism. Hill-Perry states that
Aside from the doctrines of grace, it’s one concept that has really renewed my mind when it comes to faith and sin. Now, when I look at certain sins, it’s not, ‘Oh, I’m just doing this because I want to.’ No, what in this sin do you think will satisfy me that God can’t? It makes my processing of my issues a lot deeper, and it’s also expanded my view of God.