‘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

ABSTRACT 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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    • "Unfortunately, no gay or lesbian JWs could be recruited for this study to explore challenges experienced with the anti-homosexual sentiment in this religious community. Further research in this area may reveal problems similar to those reported by sexual minorities who are also members of conservative religious groups (Barton, 2010). It also seems that JW children may be predisposed to developing dependent personality traits, although further quantitative investigation is required to verify this hypothesis. "
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    • "Perhaps most importantly, what explains the selection and creation of Grace Church's particular goals and ideals, and how might they represent, draw from, and potentially help integrate Grace Church's competing cultural identities? While previous research has considered a number of aspects of gay-religious identity formation (e.g., Barton 2010; Lukenbill 1998; Mahaffy 1996; Moon 2004; Rodriguez 2010; Rodriguez and Ouellette 2000a, b; Rostosky et al. 2008; Thumma and Gray 2005; Wagner et al. 1994; Wilcox 2002, 2003; Wolkomir 2001, 2006; Yip 1997a, b, 2002), including a handful of studies that have specifically considered gay persons who are either evangelical, fundamentalist, or charismatic (e.g., McQueeney 2009; Pitt 2010a, b; Thumma 1991; Walton 2006), much if not most of this literature has focused on identity formation at the individual level. Our study thus proceeds in a somewhat new direction by not only considering the understudied phenomenon of gay evangelicals but also by considering the dynamics of gay-religious identity formation, as this formation takes place at the congregational level. "
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    • "For example, at a holiday dinner, knowing that Gabrielle and Megan were a couple, and while Gabrielle was at the table, Megan's mother queried aloud to Megan in front of the whole family, " When are you going to find a nice young man? " When I was writing on the " toxic closet " (Barton 2010), I remembered these stories, contacted Gabrielle and asked her if I could use them to illustrate my theory of the toxic closet as a " condition of inarticulation " in family environments (Barton forthcoming). Gabrielle gave me her verbal permission and then emailed me the following, " Here is a good example of Megan's mother not acknowledging our relationship and making me feel like I wasn't welcome. "
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    ABSTRACT: This article explores ethical issues of co-mingled data, demarcating the field and informed consent in a study researching the consequences of Christian fundamentalist ideology on the lives of “Bible Belt gays”. When what constitutes informed consent is ambiguous, how does the qualitative researcher justify her decision either to include or exclude meaningful data? To illustrate these ethical issues, I analyze four instances of co-mingled data, two featuring Christian fundamentalists and two Bible Belt gays, in which I gain theoretical insights under conditions of blurry consent, and weigh potential harm to subjects against the liberatory goals of the project. KeywordsEthics–Autoethnography–Consent–Fieldwork
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