It's not just Texas, the play's debut in New York in 1998 was almost canceled because of the same kind of threats of violence. Fanatics, homophobes, and religious zealots are found in all parts of the country. In NY, however, they decided not to back down, although they had to install metal detectors in the theater and provide greatly enhanced security. But, that was at a well financed theater, in a large city, where they could handle that sort of thing.
But a lot of things have changed in this country since 1998. And that does include generally greater acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality, to the point that we now have legal gay marriages in many places. We also recognize that attacks on gays, simply because of their homosexuality, are hate crimes, and can be prosecuted under federal law, something we didn't do in 1998. Even people who may not condone homosexuality, are more willing to adopt a "live and let live" attitude about other people's lifestyles. Homophobia is less acceptable within the general population now, although it clearly continues to exist. Within the Christian evangelical community, which includes part of Texas, it is obviously alive and well.
I don't doubt that some people might find a portrayal of Jesus as gay as being offensive. I also doubt that many of them have even seen or read McNally's play to know what they are actually getting worked up about. It is just a knee jerk reaction to any notion of Jesus being gay. But, just because a dramatic work offends some people, doesn't mean that other people shouldn't be allowed to view it. It doesn't give anyone the right to threaten such violence that a play cannot be put on.
Some people can't tolerate any notion of Jesus being sexual at all--straight or gay. Both the book, and the film, "The Last Temptation of Christ", provoked similar controversy, and, in the case of the film, similar violent reactions, partly because Jesus is shown as being sexually active with a woman.
That doesn't mean we have to muzzle artistic or creative efforts, by serious novelists, and playwrights, and film directors, because some people don't like to have their conception of Jesus tampered with. These works do not threaten or impede any one's religious beliefs or religious freedom. They are works of art, products of the human imagination, and it is fine if they challenge us to think or to debate or to question or to argue. It is not fine when people are willing to harm or kill, in the name of their religion, because they don't like the content of such creative work.
Lawful protest is fine, what just happened in Texas is not fine and it is not excusable. Particularly on university campuses, academic freedom must be preserved. That is the one place that ideas must be openly discussed and explored in as free, and rational, a manner as possible.
The university had to cancel the presentation if it presented a serious security problem. They could not risk anyone being harmed. But I find this entire incident rather sad. It is a sorry commentary on the current state of affairs in that part of Texas. I hope that the more enlightened and rational people in that state, and elsewhere, speak out loudly against these religious fanatics and their terrorist threats and tactics.