Finding Big Gay Church: An Academic Congregation Exploring LGBTQ Intersections with Religion, Art, and Education


  • Mindi Rhoades The Ohio State University
  • James Sanders III The Ohio State University
  • Kim Cosier University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Courtnie Wolfgang Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Melanie Davenport Georgia State University



Big Gay Church, arts-based educational research, dramatic inquiry, performance pedagogy, LGBTQ, conservative Christianity and LGBT, artivism


Using the metaphor of mapping as an overarching metaphor, this article presents an amalgamated version of the first five years of Big Gay Church, an annual session at the National Art Education Association’s convention since 2009. Big Gay Church is a collaborative small group of queer art educators and allies coming together to explore the intersections of religion, education, the arts, culture, and LGBTQ identities. By using tools and constructs from dramatic inquiry and other performance pedagogies, as well as inviting attendees to fully participate as members of the congregation, we transform this conference session into an opportunity for scholarship, action, connection, and fellowship. Such arts-based academic interventions can provoke a re-imagining of ways forward, together, in education and research.

Author Biographies

Mindi Rhoades, The Ohio State University

Mindi Rhoades is an Assistant Professor of Teaching + Learning in the College of Education + Human Ecology at The Ohio State University.

James Sanders III, The Ohio State University

Associate Professor of Arts Administration, Education, and Policy in the College of the Arts + Sciences

Kim Cosier, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Associate Dean/Professor of Art Education in Peck School of the Arts

Courtnie Wolfgang, Virginia Commonwealth University

Assistant Professor of Art Education

Melanie Davenport, Georgia State University

Associate Professor of Art Education, School of Art + Design


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How to Cite

Rhoades, M., Sanders III, J., Cosier, K., Wolfgang, C., & Davenport, M. (2016). Finding Big Gay Church: An Academic Congregation Exploring LGBTQ Intersections with Religion, Art, and Education. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 1(1), 88–120.