Leslie Jordan Tells Shania Twain 'God Made Me' Gay, Why He 'Quit Going' to Church: 'I'm Not a Mistake'

Earlier this year, the actor released his album Company's Comin', which is filled with country songs and gospel hymns

Leslie Jordan is reflecting on his sexuality and his relationship with the church.

In an interview with Shania Twain on the first anniversary of her Home Now Radio show on Apple Music Hits, Jordan, 66, opened up about his childhood and what it was like to be gay growing up in a religious family, as he talked about his recently released Company's Comin'. (The episode airs at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.)

"I say this for myself, that music was always my savior. I wouldn't say the music was my religion, but it was a safe zone where I wasn't judged," Twain, 55, told Jordan. "I could express myself and it was escapism for me as well. Growing up in a family that believed very much that God was going to be there to help you through things and then also having the music, what an inspiring way to grow up."

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Exactly," Jordan responded. "When I'm being very dramatic, I say, 'Well, I grew up in the church, but I walked away,' because the whole gay thing came around. I firmly believe that God made me this way. I'm not a mistake."

"This is not my cross to bear. It's part of what I am and I want to celebrate that, but when you grow up and you're just so scared… But I never walked away from the church," he added. "I just quit going."

leslie jordan and shania twain
Getty (2)

Reflecting on his childhood, Jordan — who stars on Call Me Kat — spoke about how he faced bullies during his childhood: through comedy.

"I learned very early to be funny to keep the bullies at bay. The minute they started bullying me, I could make them laugh," he said. "That was my defense mechanism."

Jordan then told a story about when he told his parents he no longer wanted to go to Sunday school because other kids would laugh at him.

Actor Leslie Jordan attends FOX Host "The Cool Kids" Outdoor Screening Event at Roxbury Park on September 24, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
Leslie Jordan. Earl Gibson III/Getty

"[My dad] got down on one knee and he explained to me the difference between laughing at me and laughing with me. And he said, 'You've been given a gift. And that's the ability to make people laugh,'" Jordan said. "He recognized it even before I did, that I was this funny kid. I didn't know. So, I think over the years I've thought of that and... What a gift."

"What a gift to be able to make people laugh, to have a talent for that because you can tell a joke and somebody else can tell that same joke, and if they don't have the rhythm, whatever it is that comedians have... It's like music. We hear the music. It's the rhythm," he continued.

Talking about his album — which features several gospel songs and country hits — Jordan said the album featured songs he grew up with and has a connection to.

"I had no ax to grind. It used to be, I would say, 'Oh, well, the Baptist church, they did this and they did that to me.' That's not true," he said. "That's not true. You know what I mean?"

Jordan's album features collaborations with top-notch stars from Brothers Osborne's TJ, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder, Tanya Tucker and even Dolly Parton.

"I went and met Dolly and she was just adorable," Jordan said about meeting Parton. "We just hit it off. We're both Tennesseans. We were the same height exactly, eyeball to eyeball."

"Is that with our without her shoes?" asked Twain.

"Without her shoes, that's the first thing she said. I said, 'Dolly, if it wasn't for that hair and those shoes, you would be my height,'" Jordan explained. "But she said, 'I'll sing a hymn with you. I'll sing a hymn with you.' It's called, 'Where The Soul Never Dies.' She said, 'We sang this in church, growing up. I sing it all the time.'"

Parton then suggested featuring some of her family members on the song.

"I said, 'No, just you Dolly, not your family. Well, of course your family can sing!' So she brought in a lot of her family members," he explained. "When you hear the choir at the end of that, that's Dolly Parton's family... Oh my gosh, it was really something."

Fans can watch the full episode anytime on-demand or on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. ET on Apple Music Hits.

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