California Christian music festival banned gay singer when staff threatened to walk out
Organizers of a Northern California Christian music festival banned an appearance by the band Everyday Sunday — on the grounds that volunteers would walk off the job rather than work alongside a group with an openly gay member.
Billboard magazine reported this week that Joshua Fest, which took place over Labor Day weekend, dropped Everyday Sunday from the festival roster because 11 members of the production staff refused to do their jobs if the band were allowed to perform. Everyday Sunday’s lead singer Trey Pearson came out as gay in May.
Festival organizers are opening up weeks after the fact to explain the decision-making process. Faced with the prospect of Joshua Fest not happening at all, they removed the band from the bill. Pearson made a cameo during another band’s set at the festival, a last-minute concession granted by organizers.
Earlier in the summer, Pearson had enthused on social media about how excited he was to be “the first openly gay artist to ever play a major Christian music festival.” In the weeks leading up to Labor Day weekend, however, fans of contemporary Christian music began to speak out against the idea of a gay performer at Joshua Fest.
“Shame on you, Joshua Fest,” wrote a Disqus user name “Apieceofthat” in the comments of a Religious News Service article about Pearson. “Mr. Pearson is using a Christian music festival to further his own personal agenda. Sure, he’s not the only sinner to perform. But do you see other artists tweeting, ‘Yay! I’m an adulterer and I get to lead worship at a major Christian music festival!’ Now his performance has become about his sexual deviancy and not about Jesus. Joshua Fest should drop him… I do not want my kids hearing this degenerate on stage. No thanks. We’ll stay home this year. Ticket refund?”
Joshua Fest owner Aaron Diello told Billboard, “The information about the stage crew came from our production manager. There was a team of about 14, and he said that about 11 were going to back out. He was trying to get them to change their minds, but it really put our back against the wall. This was just under two weeks out from the event. All of our staff are volunteers, and none of us are paid. 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.”
The crew members who threatened to walk off the job, Diello said, are “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.”
Pink News reported that when Pearson came out, he said, “I grew up in a Christian home and church, where I was taught that God hated homosexuality, and I could choose to be straight. I tried for a really long time. I don’t think I was every trying to lie to anyone, I was trying to convince myself I could be something I wasn’t.”