Presentation Title

Church, Churches, and Being Gay: Finding Belonging for African American LGBTQ Individuals of Faith

Presenter Status

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky

Presentation Type

Oral presentation

Location

Buller Hall, Room 250

Start Date

23-5-2019 4:05 PM

Presentation Abstract

While congregations and church leaders struggle to conceptualize non-heteronormativity in the context of Christian faith, LGBTQ identifying individuals also strive to find and create places of belonging within their churches. Drawing from in-depth ethnographic research on belonging and cultural citizenship for African American LGBTQ youth in Birmingham, Alabama, this paper examines religious communities and services as sites of oppression and of belonging for LGBTQ identifying individuals. From Bible study groups in HIV outreach organizations and Sunday morning worship as part of Pride celebrations, to Sabbath School with extended family and potluck to follow, faith and belonging for LGBTQ identifying individuals are negotiated in real time with acceptance and rejection often occupying the same moment. This paper examines the ways African American LGBTQ individuals find and create belonging in a social and religious environment marked by their exclusion and marginalization. Doing so not only investigates belonging as a key site of intellectual inquiry for social scientists but is also of critical interest to scholars seeking to understand God’s purposes as revealed in human social organization and through the beliefs and practices of religious communities.

Biographical Sketch

Stacie Hatfield is a PhD Candidate in cultural anthropology at the University of Kentucky. She engages critical anthropological and feminist theory to further understand cultural citizenship, belonging, race, gender, and place in the lives of children and youth. She is currently writing her dissertation.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Dr. Kristin Monroe and my dissertation committee at the University of Kentucky. I am also deeply indebted to the individuals and organizations in Birmingham who welcomed me, answered my unending questions, and allowed me to be a part of their lives.

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May 23rd, 4:05 PM

Church, Churches, and Being Gay: Finding Belonging for African American LGBTQ Individuals of Faith

Buller Hall, Room 250

While congregations and church leaders struggle to conceptualize non-heteronormativity in the context of Christian faith, LGBTQ identifying individuals also strive to find and create places of belonging within their churches. Drawing from in-depth ethnographic research on belonging and cultural citizenship for African American LGBTQ youth in Birmingham, Alabama, this paper examines religious communities and services as sites of oppression and of belonging for LGBTQ identifying individuals. From Bible study groups in HIV outreach organizations and Sunday morning worship as part of Pride celebrations, to Sabbath School with extended family and potluck to follow, faith and belonging for LGBTQ identifying individuals are negotiated in real time with acceptance and rejection often occupying the same moment. This paper examines the ways African American LGBTQ individuals find and create belonging in a social and religious environment marked by their exclusion and marginalization. Doing so not only investigates belonging as a key site of intellectual inquiry for social scientists but is also of critical interest to scholars seeking to understand God’s purposes as revealed in human social organization and through the beliefs and practices of religious communities.