‘Abomination’—Life as a Bible Belt Gay

Department of Sociology, Social Work and Criminology, Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky, USA.
Journal of Homosexuality (Impact Factor: 0.78). 04/2010; 57(4):465-84. DOI: 10.1080/00918361003608558
Source: PubMed


Drawing on observation, autoethnography, and audio-taped interviews, this article explores the religious backgrounds and experiences of Bible Belt gays. In the Bible Belt, Christianity is not confined to Sunday worship. Christian crosses, messages, paraphernalia, music, news, and attitudes permeate everyday settings. Consequently, Christian fundamentalist dogma about homosexuality-that homosexuals are bad, diseased, perverse, sinful, other, and inferior-is cumulatively bolstered within a variety of other social institutions and environments in the Bible Belt. Of the 46 lesbians and gay men interviewed for this study (age 18-74 years), most describe living through spirit-crushing experiences of isolation, abuse, and self-loathing. This article argues that the geographic region of the Bible Belt intersects with religious-based homophobia. Informants explained that negative social attitudes about homosexuality caused a range of harmful consequences in their lives including the fear of going to hell, depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness.

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Available from: Bernadette Barton, Aug 16, 2015
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    • "A further societal influence on LGBT people that is frequently stigmatizing is religion (Barton, 2010; Sowe, Brown, & Taylor, 2014). The effects of religion contribute towards stigmatization in the wider society, and particularly for those who have some religious faith. "

    International Journal of Sexual Health 07/2015; DOI:10.1080/19317611.2015.1068902 · 0.36 Impact Factor
    • "On a microsystem level, investigations in the fields of psychology and social work indicate how places of worship (Bowers, Minichiello, & Plummer , 2010), fundamentalist sects (Barton, 2010; Woodford, Levy, & Walls, 2013) and faith-based educational institutions (Maher, 2013) promote rejection and discrimination against SGMY and adults. These studies invoke " spirit-crushing experiences of isolation, abuse, and self-loathing " (Barton, 2010, p. 477) that may require a " lifelong process of posttraumatic recovery " (Bowers et al., 2010, p. 70). A study of SGMY at Catholic high schools and Christian colleges identified widespread fears of suspension, discrimination , and physical violence, with " a disturbingly high percentage of males in Catholic schools express[ing] that violence against GLBTQ persons was acceptable " (Maher, 2013, p. 271). "
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    ABSTRACT: Homophobic bullying is pervasive and deleterious, and a source of extensive health and mental health disparities affecting sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY). Investigations conducted over the past two decades across the social ecology of SGMY indicate individual (e.g., gender), microsystem (e.g., schools), and exosystem level (e.g., community norms) factors associated with homophobic bullying. Emerging evidence at the macrosystem level demonstrates the powerful influence of laws, policies, and ideologies on the population health of sexual minority adults. Based on social ecological theory and emerging evidence at the macrosystem level, we advance a conceptualization of the religious social ecology of homophobic bullying and articulate the construct of conversion bullying, a form of bias-based bullying that may be unique to SGMY. Conversion bullying is manifested in the invocation of religious rhetoric and rationalizations in repeated acts of peer aggression against SGMY that cause harm, based on the premise that same-sex attractions and behaviors are immoral or unnatural and with implicit or explicit communication that one should change one's sexuality to conform to heteronormative ideals. We describe implications of conversion bullying for social work practice, education, social policy, and research.
    Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 02/2015; 27(1):46-63. DOI:10.1080/10538720.2015.988315
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    • "Some participants remained in the faith traditions of their upbringings , but altered the meanings or traditions , or reduced or modified their engage - ment . As has been found in previous studies , it seems helpful to identify where religious institu - tions may deviate from spiritual teachings , and / or distill a religion to core concepts or principles , such as love and compassion ( Barrow & Kuva - lanka , 2011 ; Barton , 2010 ; Brennan - Ing et al . , 2013 ; Levy & Lo , 2013 ; Murr , 2013 ; Schuck & Liddle , 2001 ; Siraj , 2012 ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper explores how individuals experienced transition regarding spiritual or religious occupations after acknowledging identities as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). Based on qualitative interviews with 35 self-identified LGBTQ people, it explores experiences of identity conflict and processes of transition, as well as meanings of spiritual or religious occupations. For some, transition occurred very young, for others not until adulthood. Some participants remained in the faith traditions of their upbringings, others adopted new faith traditions, many created personal relationships to spirituality, and a few abandoned anything spiritual. Those who left religions often lost faith, rituals, community, family connections, and specific religious occupational roles. Occupational adaptation took three forms: reducing participation and engagement; altering the meaning of engagement; or changing the occupation itself. The occupations participants identified as spiritual were both private and collective. While borrowing from diverse spiritual paths was common, so too was creating individualized spiritual practices. Spiritual occupations held a range of meanings for participants: enacting openness, truth, honesty, and authenticity; providing meaning; connecting with self and others; transcending the mundane; and ultimately, survival. Occupational transition is shown to entail exploration, competence and achievement, but also loss, abandonment, altered meanings, and revised or novel occupations.
    Journal of Occupational Science 01/2015; 9(2):92-117. DOI:10.1080/14427591.2014.953670
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