Complex Processes of Religion and Spirituality Among Midwestern LGBTQ Homeless Young Adults

Abstract

The role of religion and spirituality in young people’s lives is diverse and multifaceted. Little research has examined how religion shapes the experiences of socially marginalized groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) homeless young adults. This study illustrates how Midwestern LGBTQ homeless young people interpret the role of religion and spirituality in their lives. Drawing from a sample of 22 LGBTQ homeless young people between the ages of 19 and 26 years, we qualitatively explore how they distinctively frame religion, spirituality and religious identity through an intersectional lens of their life experiences. Our findings demonstrate the complex ways that young adults from multiple marginalized social groups can interpret religion in the unique context of their social environments. Many young people highlighted the positive impact of religion and spirituality in their lives by constructing them as sources of resilience. Other LGBTQ young adults also discussed how religion was often a source of stigma that interacted with participants’ highly vulnerable social environments and backgrounds. Implications for service providers and policy improvements are discussed.

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Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Joyce O. Hertzler Sociological Research Fund sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Sociology Department.

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Correspondence to Rachel M. Schmitz.

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Schmitz, R.M., Woodell, B. Complex Processes of Religion and Spirituality Among Midwestern LGBTQ Homeless Young Adults. Sexuality & Culture 22, 980–999 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-018-9504-8

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Keywords

  • LGBTQ young adults
  • Homeless
  • Religion
  • Resilience
  • Stigma
  • Coping