‘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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    • "Numerous studies have documented the persistence of heterosexist attitudes and policies within diverse religious groups (e.g.,Buchanan et al., 2001). In such religious contexts, sexual minority people may be taught that their identities are unacceptable, immoral, or incompatible with their religious identities (Barton, 2010;Severson et al., 2014). Greater participation in these communities has been linked to a higher incidence of anxiety, internalized heterosexism, loneliness , and other adverse emotional outcomes for sexual minority people (Hamblin & Gross, 2013;Henrickson, 2007;Rowen & Malcolm, 2002;Severson et al., 2014;Sowe, Brown, & Taylor, 2014). "
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    • "For some, the process of identity integration means changing religions, reducing participation, or changing denominations or congregations, but it can also mean altering beliefs or relationship to beliefs (Brennan-Ing, Seidel, Larson, & Karpiak, 2013;Dahl & Galliher, 2012;García et al., 2008;Schuck & Liddle, 2001). Some distinguish between spirituality and religion, seeing the latter as political and fallible; some deepen their knowledge, identifying where doctrines may deviate from original spiritual teachings; some focus more on the core spiritual values of their faith tradition, such as love, compassion, and respect (Barrow & Kuvalanka, 2011;Barton, 2010;Brennan-Ing et al., 2013;Dahl & Galliher, 2009;Levy & Lo, 2013;Murr, 2013;Schnoor, 2006;Schuck & Liddle, 2001;Siraj, 2012;Westerfield, 2012). For counselors working with LGBTQ clients, obviously acknowledging that religion may have left lasting scars is critical, though it is important not to assume conflict (Rodriguez, 2009). "
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