Back in May, Christian rock star Trey Pearson of the band Everyday Sunday came out as gay, a brave move considering how his evangelical base might react.
That didn’t last long. Of the 14 members on the all-voluntary production team, 11 threatened to walk out if Pearson’s gay cooties appeared onstage. They were going to sabotage the event as a result. The festival organizers had no choice. They pulled Pearson from the lineup.
“… When it comes to production, we have a production manager who is given a shoestring budget. And the fact that this team works the event for cost really put us in a bind to find a knowledgeable team that was available, let alone affordable. The event is Labor Day weekend, so you can imagine how hard it would have been to find a team that was experienced and available.” [Joshua Fest owner Aaron] Diello describes the production members who threatened to walk as “a group of guys that are stagehands at many of Northern California’s Christian concerts. They’ve been really good to us over the years, and I’m not going to call them haters. They’re good guys that need more Jesus.”
He won’t, but I will. Those members of the production team are bigots who confirm every nasty stereotype people have of evangelical Christians.
Pearson, proving just how decent of a guy he is (unlike those 11 bigots on the production team), didn’t put up a fight about this. He knew that the festival would have to be canceled without those homophobes working the event, costing people like Diello a lot of money, and he genuinely wanted the festival to go on, with or without him.
But he had already booked his flight, and he wanted to be at the festival — as a fan if not a performer.
He didn’t stay a mere fan for long. When the band Five Iron Frenzy came up to perform, they asked Pearson to join them in singing their song “Every New Day” — and he obliged.
A gay man sang on the Christian festival’s stage after all.
It’s a happy ending to the story, but don’t forget why this is a story at all. The strain of anti-gay bigotry still runs strong within the evangelical world, and the people who accept LGBT people remain in the minority.
Allowing a great singer to perform at a music festival shouldn’t be an issue. It’s only an issue because evangelicals are graded on a curve, where acts of common decency that occur everywhere else are treated as acts of bravery and courage because Christians are involved.
It’s like when Pat Robertson says something sensible, or Donald Trump gets through a speech without saying something racist, and it becomes a big story. When the bar is that low, just treating others with kindness — or just without hostility — becomes a major story.