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Religion, Sexuality and Politics: Reflections on the Lived Experiences of Non-heterosexual Christians and Muslims Dr. Andrew Yip Reader in Sociology School of Social Sciences Nottingham Trent University Burton Street Nottingham NG1 4BU a.yip@ntu.ac.uk Introduction Research projects:

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Religion, Sexuality and Politics: Reflections on the Lived Experiences of Non-heterosexual Christians and Muslims

Dr. Andrew Yip

Reader in Sociology

School of Social Sciences

Nottingham Trent University

Burton Street

Nottingham NG1 4BU

a.yip@ntu.ac.uk

'Negotiating Religious Identity' Seminar Series, Lancaster University, 24 Jan 2007


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Introduction

  • Research projects:

    - Gay Male Christian Partnerships

    - National Survey of LGB Christians

    - A Minority within a Minority: LGB Muslims


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Why Bother with Religion?

  • LGB identity free from two primary heterosexist institutions - the family; religion

  • LGB identity - essentially secular

  • Tolerance of homosexuality (i) Inter-religious variation; (ii) Intra-religious variation; (iii) Discrepancy between official line and treatment at grassroots level


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Sexuality is Spiritual, Spirituality is Sexual

  • Sexuality and spirituality flip sides of each other

  • Exploration of fundamentals of spirituality and sexuality inseparable

  • ‘Coming out to oneself’ inextricably linked to ‘coming out to God’

  • ‘Ontogeneric argument’ – sexuality created, sustained, blessed by God

  • Validates and authenticates their humanity

  • Identity integration and personal integrity


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Politics of Spirituality/Sexuality

  • Ontogeneric argument offers ontological anchor

  • Also a political strategy – challenges heteronormative power structures and social practices

  • Politics – recognition of difference; emancipation from oppression; justice-seeking for broader social inclusion

  • Characterised by religious individualism, prioritising authority of the self

  • ‘Spirituality of justice’ underpinned by Christ’s example

  • Personally, socially and politically expressive and transformative


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The ‘Doing’ of the Politics of Spirituality/Sexuality

  • Various forms of engagement with institutional religion

    - ‘I’m leaving the Church to keep my faith’

    - Staying to effect positive change: claiming and transformation of space – physical, psychological and theological

    - Queering of religious texts

  • Alignment of counter religious discourse with secular discourse of human rights and citizenship

  • Convergence of politics of spirituality/sexuality with politics of sexual/intimate citizenship

  • Theological, cultural, social, and political capital


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Complexity of the Politics of Spirituality/Sexuality

  • A form of identity politics with sexuality as defining principle or ‘master status’

  • Often neglects interplay between sexual identity and other identities (e.g. cultural, ethnic)

  • LGB Muslims – sexual, ethnic, and religious minority

  • Salience of Islamophobia and racism, alongside homophobia

  • Challenges ‘individualisation’ and ‘de-traditionalisation’ theses that underpin LGB identity development


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References

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2007) Legal, Cultural, and Sexual Citizenship: The Case of Lesbian and Bisexual Muslim Women. Paper presented at the 8th Mediterranean Social & Political Research Meeting, Florence/Montecatini Terme, 21-25 March.

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2005) ‘Religion and the politics of spirituality/sexuality: Reflections on researching British lesbian, gay, and bisexual Christians and Muslims’ Fieldwork in Religion 1, 3: 271-289.

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2005) ‘Queering religious texts: An exploration of British non-heterosexual Christians’ and Muslims’ strategy of constructing sexuality-affirming hermeneutics’, Sociology 39, 1: 47-65.

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2004) ‘Negotiating space with family and kin in identity construction: The narratives of British non-heterosexual Muslims’, Sociological Review 52, 3: 336-350.

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2004) ‘Embracing Allah and Sexuality?: South Asian Non-heterosexual Muslims in Britain’, in: P. Kumar & K. Jacobsen (eds.) South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions. Leiden: EJ Brill.

  • Yip, A. K. T. & Keenan, M. (2004) ‘By name united, by sex divided: A brief analysis of the current crisis facing the Anglican Communion’, Sociological Research Online 9, 1. http://www.socresonline.org.uk/9/1/yip.html

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2003) ‘Spirituality and sexuality: The religious beliefs of non-heterosexual Christians in Great Britain’, Theology and Sexuality 9, 2: 137-154.

  • Yip, A. K. T. (2002) ‘The persistence of faith among non-heterosexual Christians: Evidence for the neosecularisation thesis of religious transformation’ Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 41, 2: 199-212.


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