Trey Pearson, lead singer of the Christian band Everyday Sunday, made headlines in June when he publicly announced that he was gay.
The fallout from Pearson's announcement was mixed, but seemed to die down until he tweeted on Aug. 8: "Overwhelmed & honored!! I will be the FIRST OPENLY GAY ARTIST TO EVER PLAY A MAJOR CHRISTIAN MUSIC FESTIVAL!"
Pearson was scheduled to perform at Joshua Fest in Quincy, California, during Labor Day weekend, but got dropped before the show because several production team members threatened to walk off if he performed, notes Billboard.
However, Pearson was quietly contacted by Five Iron Frenzy, a band that was performing at Joshua Fest, and ended up performing one song on stage with them.
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Five Iron Frenzy posted a picture of Pearson on their Instagram page and the caption: "Big thank you to @treypearson for joining us on stage for Every New Day photo by... A person with a camera who's name I do not know. If this is your photo, let me know and I will credit you."
Instagram users team.mackie and mashdiwest both claimed credit for the picture.
Aaron Diello, the owner of Joshua Fest, gave Billboard some details of the behind-the-scenes drama:
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.
According to Diello, the production members, who said they were going to walk out on the show, 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."
Diello recalled how he dreaded telling Pearson that he and his band were out of the show.
After being dumped, Pearson said that he was contacted by Five Iron Frenzy:
They were like, "Hey, what would you think about coming up and singing our last song with us" -- "Every New Day," which is one of their biggest songs. They were a band that I went to tons of their concerts in high school and looked up to, and so to have them ask me to do that was amazing. They checked with the owners first, and we all decided -- it’s not me doing my own set, but it’s still a way that I can go up there and be a part of the festival.
So it turned out to be a really beautiful thing. I think there were a couple of surprised looks that I was there by a couple of people who didn’t want me there, but everybody was friendly. Of course I wish I could have done my own set, but in some ways this almost felt more powerful, because it was this band that I looked up to growing up that a lot of the fans looked up to, and all these guys from the other bands, too, standing with me in love.
Reese Roper, the leader singer for Five Iron Frenzy, told Billboard:
We had all talked as a band about just dropping off of [the festival], just to make a statement, like if you’re not gonna let him play, then we’re not gonna play. We don’t like to deal with that kind of intolerance. Especially to me, if you’re espousing being full of the love of Christ, that’s just not how you do it.
I think it was very positive. I see on our Facebook page just a lot of people saying, "Thanks for doing that." I really wish we could do more. I feel like the church is just hemorrhaging over this issue, and it bothers me so much to know that what we choose to do with the love of Christ is to ostracize people. If you talk to the guys in my mind, I think there’s a gamut of feelings about homosexuality and whether or not it’s sinful, or what a sin is.
Personally, I feel like the Bible is not clear enough on it to say. But I do know that it is clear that we are to love each other as Christ loved us, and I don’t think the church is doing that.
Diello concluded: "I believe that everything happened the way it was supposed to happen. God took a bad situation and made it glorify him. Maybe not the way Trey and myself foresaw or wanted it to pan out, but if it didn't happen the way it did, then I think the result would have been different, maybe even manufactured or forced."