Book: Gay on God’s Campus

My book Gay on God’s Campus examines LGBT activist groups at Christian colleges and universities in the United States. Interested readers can find a description of the book as well as online supplements below. For information on articles that I have published about LGBT issues at Christian colleges and universities, click here.

Coley, Jonathan. 2018. Gay on God’s Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities. The University of North Carolina Press. (order)

Winner, 2018 Stanford M. Lyman Distinguished Book Award, Mid-South Sociological Association.

Although the LGBT movement has made rapid gains in the United States, LGBT people continue to face discrimination in faith communities. In this book, sociologist Jonathan S. Coley documents why and how student activists mobilize for greater inclusion at Christian colleges and universities. Drawing on interviews with student activists at a range of Christian institutions of higher learning, Coley shows that students, initially drawn to activism because of their own political, religious, or LGBT identities, are forming direct action groups that transform university policies, educational groups that open up campus dialogue, and solidarity groups that facilitate their members’ personal growth. He also shows how these LGBT activists apply their skills and values after graduation in subsequent political campaigns, careers, and family lives, potentially serving as change agents in their faith communities for years to come. Coley’s findings shed light on a new frontier of LGBT activism and challenge prevailing wisdom about the characteristics of activists, the purpose of activist groups, and ultimately the nature of activism itself.

“[A] title like “Gay on God’s Campus” suggests the depressing old tale of gay people’s suffocation in the Bible-fog. In fact, nothing about this book is depressing, and it serves as something of a light in the fog…” — Alan Contreras for The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide.

“[P]rovides the most comprehensive historical accounting to date for the rise of LGBT activism at Christian colleges and universities… Gay on God’s Campus is for students of sociology, religious studies, gender and sexuality, and, surely, for the brave activists themselves.” – Philip Salim Francis for Reading Religion.

“A thoroughly researched rebuttal to the false-dichotomy portrayal of Christian groups as universally situated in opposition to LGBT culture. Coley’s emphasis on the intersection of religious identity and LGBT activism fills an important niche in the field of social movements.” — Tina Fetner, McMaster University. Author of How the Religious Right Shaped Lesbian and Gay Activism.

“A sophisticated, nuanced exploration of activism in an all-encompassing setting, Coley deftly paints a portrait of LGBT advocacy on Christian college campuses and clearly demonstrates how there are multiple ways to be an activist.” — Ziad Munson, Lehigh University. Author of The Making of Pro-Life Activists: How Social Movement Mobilization Works.

“Clear and concise…Coley presents us with a lucid and rigorous study that extends social movement scholarship to focus on numerous kinds of change people can work for and the numerous methods they can use to get there.” – Dawne Moon for Sociology of Religion.

“[H]as the potential to become a touchstone for others…challenging the stereotypical vision of activism that dominates social movement research.” — Ruth Braunstein for American Journal of Sociology.

Extremely impressive… Coley’s project will be cherished for its timely application and its resounding recognition of students as change agents.” – Ian Callahan for Sociological Inquiry.

“Masterfully…captures what C. Wright Mills describes as The Sociological Imagination: where biography and history meet… The book would make a great addition to undergraduate classes because of its many lessons—on social movements, sexual identity, and religion—and its timeliness for American culture and politics.” – Kelsy Burke for Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Online supplements (interview schedule, additional analyses, and literature review): 

Supplement A: Interview Schedule

Supplement B: Quantitative Analyses of LGBT Group Presence and Nondiscrimination Policy Adoption at Christian Colleges and Universities

Supplement C: Qualitative Comparative Analyses of Pathways to Participation

Supplement D: Multivariate Analyses of Activist Commitment

Supplement E: Social Movements and Cultural Change: What, Why, and How?

Interviews and Media Coverage:

Down the Research Rabbit Hole: Podcast Interview on Gay on God’s Campus

Inside Higher Ed: “‘Gay on God’s Campus’: Author Discusses His New Book about Gay Students and LGBT Activism at Christian Colleges”

INSIGHT Into Diversity: “Toeing the Line: Christian Colleges Send Mixed Signals to LGBTQ Students”

Mobilizing Ideas: Video on “How Can Movements Mobilize Inside of Christian Communities?”

Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education: Q&A on Gay on God’s Campus

New Books Network — The Academic Life: Podcast Interview on Gay on God’s Campus

New Books Network — New Books in Sociology: Podcast Interview on Gay on God’s Campus

Religion News Service: “Are LGBTQ Students at Christian Schools Discriminated Against? A Lawsuit, Scholarly Studies Say Yes.”