Christian rock star Vicky Beeching has come out as gay, discussed her evangelical upbringing and struggles with her sexuality.

The singer-songwriter came out as gay publicly for the first time in an interview by Patrick Strudwick for the Independent, and speaking to PinkNews said she hoped her coming out would help others to do the same.

Tweeting a link to the article, she wrote: “It’s taken all my courage, and all these years, for me to finally do this interview.”

In the interview, she talks about her background, growing up in Kent, first as part of the Pentecostal church, then the evangelical wing of the Church of England, but says she knew that she was attracted to women from the age of 12.

On living from a young age aware of her same-sex attraction, Beeching talks of her struggle, and one incident where an attempt to “exorcise” her same-sex attraction was made in front of a conference centre of 4,000 people at a bible camp in the UK.

The 35-year-old studied theology at Oxford before signing with EMI as a singer, and moving to Nashville, Tennessee.

Beeching says she also came out to some friends, including Katharine Welby-Roberts, the daughter of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Welby-Roberts tweeted her support for Beeching when her coming out story was published.

On meeting now CEO of Stonewall Ruth Hunt, newsreader Jane Hill and broadcasters Clare Balding and Alice Arnold, Beeching said she was told: “Be yourself and everything will follow.”

She goes on: “What Jesus taught was a radical message of welcome and inclusion and love. 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.”

Speaking to PInkNews on her decision to come out, Beeching said: “I felt like coming out was something I needed to do. The church has now voted to enable women to become bishops – literally almost a month ago today, on July 14th.

“The next big hurdle the church faces is the discussion around sexuality. So it felt important for me to add my voice to that debate as it will be the key topic for the decades to come. And my voice will make much more difference if I’m open about my sexuality, as I can share more honestly about what it’s like to be a gay Christian.”

On her relationship with the church, she said: “I am not angry with the church even though it’s been a painful journey. I still hold as tightly to my christian faith as ever. I have a lot of hope for the future of the church – that we can see a move towards inclusion, welcome and love for LGBT people. Even if everyone in the church cannot agree on theology, I hope we can dialogue with graciousness and kindness toward one another. That’s the kind of conversations I hope I can now be part of.

“Publishing an interview with the Independent has been incredibly nerve-wracking for me. I’m nervous about the ways in which social media will respond. And how my conservative community and friends will respond. But my hope is that there will be positivity as well as negativity from people of faith, and that it might encourage other Christians who feel unable to speak up about their sexuality to find the courage and freedom to do so. We need to break the silence around the taboo of sexuality in the church and enable one another to speak about it more openly. I’m hopeful we’ll see a shift toward this direction.”

In the Independent interview, Beeching continues to say she has now come out to her parents who have accepted her, and despite feeling damaged by the church’s teachings, she wants to keep her faith and change minds.

As well as her music career, she is a regular guest on a number of national radio and TV programmes, and has appeared as a commentator on a range of topics.

She came out in support of same-sex marriage a year ago.