University of Winchester

ABSTRACTS /Dr. Andrew K. T. Yip

Changing Religion, Changing Faith: Reflections on the Transformative Efforts of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Christians and Muslims

This paper draws upon several quantitative and qualitative projects researching the lived experiences and life circumstances of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) Christians and Muslim in the UK. The paper focuses on the transformative efforts of LGB Christians and - to a smaller extent – LGB Muslims, to challenge heterosexist religious orthodoxy and practices, and make religions more accepting of sexual difference. These efforts take various forms, the most prominent of which are: (1) ‘Queering’ religious texts (e.g. critiquing traditional hermeneutics by highlighting its inaccuracy and socio-cultural specificity; and relocating interpretive authority from religious authority structures to the self/personal experience); (2) Construction of ‘real’/face-to-face and ‘virtual’ support networks, which are crucial to identity reinforcement and community building; and (3) Political mobilisation, in collaboration with secular LGB organisations (e.g. capitalising on progressive legal reform and social change in the secular spheres to press for similar change in the religious sphere). Collectively, these efforts generate significant theological, social, cultural, and political capital for their politics of difference, which is underpinned by the politics of spirituality/sexuality that emphasises the inseparability and compatibility of their sexuality and religious faith. This politics of difference is not without its challenges, however. Notwithstanding the continued resistance from certain quarters of the religious community, this politics has to grapple with other significant issues, for instance, the need to be more inclusive, recognising the diversity within its fold on the basis of religious faith, ethnicity, and differential access to the above-mentioned capital; and the incorporation of the secular discourse of LGB human rights and citizenship that often eclipses the religious dimension of LGB Christians’ and Muslims’ lived experiences.

Biographical Statement

Dr. Andrew K. T. Yip is Reader in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University (UK). He has published widely, among others, in the area of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Christian and Muslim identities and relationships. He is the author of Gay Male Christian Couples: Life Stories (Praeger, 1997), and co-author of Lesbian and Gay Lives Over 50 (York House Publishing, 2003). He is currently writing a book entitled Islam, Sexuality and Identity.

 

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