"We are God's Children, Y'All:" Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Lesbian- and Gay-Affirming Congregations
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... ccess to Social Problems. This article examines how lesbian, gay, and straight-but-affirming members of lesbian-and gay-affirming churches in the South challenged a deep-rooted Christian belief in homosexual sin. Data are taken from 200 hours of participant observation and 25 in-depth interviews in two Protestant churches: one predominantly black, working class, lesbian, and evangelical, and the other mostly white, middle class, heterosexual, and liberal. I identify three strategies lesbian, gay, and straight-but-affirming church members used to accommodate-but not assimilate-to heteronormative conceptions of the "good Christian." First, some black lesbians minimized their sexuality as secondary to the Christian identity. Second, most lesbian and gay members-both black and white-normalized their sexuality by enacting Christian morals of monogamy, manhood, and motherhood. Third, a small group of black lesbian/gay and white, straight-but-affirming members moralized their sexuality as grounds for challenging homophobia in the church. Using these strategies, church members both resisted notions of homosexual sin and reproduced a "politics of respectability" (Warner 1999) among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Findings shed empirical light on two issues in the social problems literature: (1) the inseparability of race and gender from sexual identity; and (2) the importance of an intersectional analysis in assessing the possibilities of faith-based strategies for sexual equality.