Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

I have many people to thank for their support as I wrote this book. In many ways, this book is a biographical consequence of my time as an undergraduate student at Samford University, a Baptist university in Birmingham, Alabama. Beginning in 2009, other students, faculty members, and I worked together to form an unofficial support group for LGBT students and promote LGBT inclusion in a conservative religious environment. I would not be where I am today if it were not for Hugh Floyd and Theresa Davidson, two faculty members in Samford’s Department of Sociology, who showed...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-22

What do an anarchist, a former fundamentalist Christian, and a relatively apolitical and nonreligious student have in common? Conventional explanations of activist group participation, and perhaps human sociality more generally, would suggest very little. Common sense might suggest that these three people would occupy dif­ferent social spheres and advocate for dif­ferent causes—if they advocated for certain causes at all. But in a fledgling lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization at the Catholic...

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Chapter One: The Context of Change

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pp. 23-42

LGBT activists at Christian colleges and universities do not mobilize in a vacuum. Although they followed a variety of paths into LGBT activist groups, the students whom I profile in this book all mobilized at a similar historical moment and amidst common sets of structural conditions that made LGBT activism at Christian colleges and universities possible.
In this chapter, I examine the question of why LGBT activist groups began to emerge on Christian college and university campuses at least since...

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Chapter Two: Joining an Activist Group

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pp. 43-66

Why and how do people join activist groups? Traditional accounts of activist group participation emphasize a relatively smooth transition between activists’ childhood to their coming-of-age, as well as a close link between the current attitudes of activists and the stated beliefs of the activist groups they join. My initial visit to Belmont University in 2010, where I observed protests in favor of an inclusive nondiscrimination statement and talked to members of the then unofficial Bridge Builders group, seemed to confirm...

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Chapter Three: Committing to the Cause

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pp. 67-91

Why do students commit to activist groups? In other words, why do some students devote so much more time and energy to activist groups than others do? Whereas the previous chapter focused on the factors shaping students’ initial decisions to join activist groups, and whereas the next chapters will focus on the impacts of LGBT activist groups on their campuses and their participants, this chapter focuses on what happens between those beginning and later points—the process by which students decide to take on...

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Chapter Four: Creating Change

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pp. 92-118

Katie, a student at Belmont University, was a member of Bridge Builders during the time it organized protests against the school’s discriminatory policies toward LGBT people. As a core member of the organization, she had deep insight into the group’s strategies and tactics, and as she told me about the group’s approach to the protests, she repeatedly emphasized the group’s messaging to Christians: “I knew going into these protests [in 2010] that we weren’t likely to change many minds overnight. We didn’t necessarily...

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Chapter Five: Becoming an Activist

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pp. 119-142

Participants in LGBT activist groups come from a variety of backgrounds— some from highly politicized households, others from more conservative, religious families, and still others from relatively apolitical upbringings. Nevertheless, nearly all participants in LGBT activist groups share a remarkable willingness to accept risk, to reexamine old values and beliefs, and to face potential backlash from their families, friends, and universities. Given the remarkable journeys many of these participants take...

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Conclusion

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pp. 143-152

Growing up, Damon did not consider himself to be an activist. Having been raised in a traditional Catholic household, and having attended a Catholic high school, Damon had never been involved in an LGBT group, and he had certainly never participated in any protests. He attended Loyola University Chicago in part because of the allure of a big city and in part because of the school’s Catholic identity, but he never stepped foot on the campus before he moved there, and he knew very little about the campus climate...

Notes

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pp. 153-164

References

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pp. 165-184

Index

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pp. 185-194