Gay on God's Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities


Today’s book is: Gay on God's Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities (UNC Press, 2018), by Jonathan Coley. 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, Dr. 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. Dr. 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. Gay on God’s Campus won the 2018 Stanford M. Lyman Distinguished Book Award, from the Mid-South Sociological Association. For more information about this project’s research methodology and theoretical grounding, please visit

Our guest is: Dr. Jonathan Coley, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Oklahoma State University and Deputy Editor of The Sociological Quarterly. His research focuses on social movements, politics, religion, education, gender and sexuality, and race and ethnicity. His current research projects examine LGBTQ activism at Christian colleges and universities; the presence of political, religious, and social activist groups at U.S. colleges and universities (with Dhruba Das, Gabby Gomez, Jericho McElroy, and Jessica Schachle); local-level church-state relations in the United States (with Gary Adler, Damon Mayrl, and Rebecca Sager); and LGBTQ faith leaders in the United States (with Joseph Anthony). His research has been published in American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Sociological Forum, Mobilization, Sociology of Religion, and Sociology of Education. He is the author of Gay on God's Campus: Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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