Trey Pearson, the lead vocalist for Everyday Sunday, was barred from performing at a popular Christian music festival they’d been playing at for almost a decade because of his decision to come out as gay last May.
Last month, Pearson shared his excitement over the fact that when he and his band Everyday Sunday took to the stage at this year’s Joshua Fest, he would become the first openly gay artist to ever perform at a Christian music festival.
Overwhelmed & honored!! I will be the FIRST OPENLY GAY ARTIST TO EVER PLAY A MAJOR CHRISTIAN MUSIC FESTIVAL! Share: https://t.co/LBe48uRkKG
— Trey Pearson (@treypearson) August 8, 2016
Unfortunately for Pearson, 11 members of the production team approached Joshua Fest organizers days before the Labor Day festival to say that they would drop out if Pearson performed.
“The information about the stage crew came from our production manager,” Joshua Fest owner Aaron Diello told Billboard.
“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,” he added. “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.”
Diello decided to kick Pearson and his band off the ticket.
“I was hurt,” he said. “I felt like I was powerless in the situation—like I was just punched in the gut. I was forced to let down a friend, someone that I really wanted to just love and support, the way Jesus tells us to. I was being denied that opportunity, at my own festival. It was a horrible situation.”
“The owners are awesome and their hearts are awesome and that’s why they were inviting me in the first place,” he said. “There was no way they would have been able to have the festival. If they keep me, I’m not going to perform anyway, because the festival is not even going to happen, and the festival owners are going to lose probably hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Just a few days before the festival kicked off, Pearson received a surprise call from Five Iron Frenzy, a famous ska-punk band that was scheduled to close out the event.
“They were like, ‘Hey, what would you think about coming up and singing our last song with us?,’” he said.
“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,” he continued. “They checked with the owners first, and we all decided…[that] it [was] a way that I [could] go up there and be a part of the festival.”
“It turned out to be a really beautiful thing,” he concluded. “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.”
— Trey Pearson (@treypearson) September 7, 2016
“I believe that everything happened the way it was supposed to happen,” he said. “Maybe [it wasn’t] 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.”
“We really got to see something raw and unique happen to the core of people’s souls,” he reflected. “I think there’s a lot of annihilated kids out there that need the politics and theological debates of the church shelved. Something bigger than us and our issues happened at that show.”