What a gay Christian rocker’s woes tell us about American Christianity


In August, it seemed that Trey Pearson of “Everyday Sunday” would become the first openly gay artist to grace the stage at a major Christian music festival. But when he publicly announced that he would be performing at Joshua Fest, not everyone was excited about the milestone. Eleven members of Joshua Fest’s production team threatened to quit if Pearson performed, so event leaders dropped him from their roster. But the story did not end there. Several bands who were also invited to play the festival were disturbed by the public snub of an LGBT person. In a surprise move, the band “Five Iron Frenzy” invited Pearson on stage to perform their last song at Joshua Fest with them. According to reports, attendees were crying at the show of solidarity.

Christians on both sides of the so-called gay debate can find something to love in this story. Conservatives can celebrate the backlash against Pearson’s invitation and event leaders’ decision to rescind it. Liberals will praise Joshua Fest for inviting him to begin with and the courage of “Five Iron Frenzy” to make space for Pearson anyway. But I think this festival saga is a snapshot of the wider debate happening among Christians.