Special Issue Articles

Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 52-66

First online:

Sexuality discussions in santería: A case study of religion and sexuality negotiation

  • Salvador Vidal-OrtizAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, American University Email author 

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This article examines everyday discussions of sexuality among practitioners of Santería, an Afro-Cuban religious-cultural practice in the United States derived from Africa’s Yoruba tradition. Santería incorporates gay, lesbian, and bisexual identified (GLB) practitioners, who educate each other and other practitioners on sexuality and sexual orientation. I used a case study approach based on ethnographic methods with extended interviews to look at Santería’s religious structure, the interception of gender and sexuality with Santería’s hierarchical practice, and the sexual and religious knowledge used by the religion’s practitioners. The relationship between ethno-racial minorities and sexual minorities is elaborated in detail—theoretically, as well as in the specific scenario of Santería. GLB practitioners are inserted into the religious setting through a set of roles or perceived responsibilities within Santería. This research elucidates newer ways of thinking about religion that incorporate discussions of sexuality.

Key words

ethno-racial minorities sexuality sexual minorities Afro-Cuban Puerto Rican