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The New Gay

D. Michael Lindsay is the author of Faith in The Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite and is a member of the sociology faculty at Rice University. Lindsay conducted interviews with a variety of prominent Evangelical Americans — including two former presidents, dozens of political and government leaders, more than 100 top business executives, plus Hollywood moguls, intellectuals, athletes and other powerful figures. His book shows who the real evangelical power brokers are, how they rose to prominence, and what they’re doing with their clout. In the post below he ruminates on the role Evangelicals play in popular culture. Read Lindsay’s other blog posts here.

Evangelicals have been making strides in all kinds of places over the last thirty years. We know about their gains in Washington, but they’ve also been quite active in Hollywood. As I conducted interviews with media moguls and artists—all of whom are evangelical—I was struck by the number of times they compared themselves to another group that has also been on the move, the gay and lesbian movement.

Barbara Nicolosi runs a program that trains some of evangelicalism’s most talented young people. She and a group of 9780195326666.jpgothers help them hone talent as aspiring writers, producers, and directors for both television and film. As we talked, she suggested that recently there has been “a trend where you had to have a gay character in every TV show; you had to have a gay theme.” She thought this had been crucial to making the larger culture more accepting of gays and lesbians. And she thought it was something evangelicals might imitate.

Nicolosi then told me the story of the time she was invited to appear on Inside Edition. She was there to talk about her program, Act One, and the rising prominence of Christians in Hollywood. She remarked to one of the show’s staffers, “I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be on Inside Edition.”

“Don’t you know?,” he responded, “‘Christian’ is the new ‘gay.’”

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  6. James

    Wasn’t the point more that Evangelical is the “new gay” (by which they presumably meant that they are the latest group to move from the fringe to the mainstream)? At any rate, the comparison is a difficult one, and reinforces the persecuted minority complex that Evangelicals tend to have, in spite of the key differences between Evangelicals as a group and gays as a group. Has practicing Evangelicalism been illegal at any point in the past century in the U.S.? Have people marched around with signs saying “God hates Evangelicals”? The comparison is certainly not a straightforward one.

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