Using an intersectional framework, this paper analyzes the behavioral and interactional responses to anti-gay religious teachings among young Black gay men. Drawing on 26 semi-structured interviews and 18 months of ethnographic observation data, I highlight the role non-religious youth development organizations play in the negotiation of contradictory religious and sexual identities among young Black gay men. My findings illuminate new patterns in the understanding of personal narrative reconciliation while simultaneously highlighting new directions for research in the roles that youth-led spaces play in socialization practices. While previous research on religion and sexuality has relied primarily on interview data, this study uses ethnographic data to supplement interviews with youth to further elucidate the community building and collective negotiations of religious teachings. Ultimately, I argue that these young Black gay men work collaboratively to repurpose religious messaging in order to justify their sexualities; to reinforce positive behaviors and explain everyday occurrences with religious exclamations (e.g., call and response, shouting); and to create new religious communities.
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All names of people and places have been changed to maintain participant confidentiality.
Shouting is a religious practice often found within Black churches that as been linked to African dances. In contemporary Black Christian churches, this dance is often linked to the Holy Spirit and one being taken over with the spirit, to the point joyous movement (see Holmes 2004).
Call and response is associated with the Black church and is a collective experience where the pastor or preacher is encouraged and his/her message reinforced through the vocal expressions of the congregants (see Costen 2010).
Associated with the LGBT African American House/Ballroom community, balls are a form of competitive performances where “houses” and individuals compete in a variety of categories (see Bailey 2013).
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This article would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of my participants, many of whom gave feedback on original drafts. I thank Stefan Timmermans for his helpful feedback throughout this entire project, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Qualitative Sociology and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful suggestions.
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Winder, T.J.A. “Shouting it Out”: Religion and the Development of Black Gay Identities. Qual Sociol 38, 375–394 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-015-9316-1
- Identity development