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Gay on God's Campus

Mobilizing for LGBT Equality at Christian Colleges and Universities

By Jonathan S. Coley

Includes online supplement

208 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 fig., 11 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3622-1
    Published: March 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3621-4
    Published: March 2018
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3623-8
    Published: February 2018

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Awards & distinctions

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. For more information about this project’s research methodology and theoretical grounding, please visit

About the Author

Jonathan S. Coley is assistant professor of sociology at Oklahoma State University.
For more information about Jonathan S. Coley, visit the Author Page.


“Through this book, Coley makes several important contributions to sociological understandings of campus activism.”--Teaching Sociology

“Provides the most comprehensive historical accounting to date for the rise of LGBT activism at Christian colleges and universities.”--Reading Religion

“Addresses the intersection of religious institutions and LGBT rights by exploring the experiences, successes, and failures of LGBT activists at four Christian schools . . . . Enjoyable and informative.”--Review of Religious Studies

“Pulls back the curtain on a ‘new frontier of LGBT activism’ on Christian college and university campuses in the United States . . . . Confounds several expectations about the relationship between religion and LGBT activism in the United States.”--American Journal of Sociology

“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.”--Sociology of 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

Multimedia & Links

For more information about this project's research methodology and theoretical grounding, please visit