Religion and Non-Heterosexual Identity: An evaluation of cognitive dissonance for religious lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. presented at the University of California, Irvine To Social Ecology Honors Research Colleagues By Jeanette Veatch Wayland May 14, 2005. Introduction.
Religion and Non-Heterosexual Identity:
An evaluation of cognitive dissonance for religious
lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.
presented at the
University of California, Irvine
Honors Research Colleagues
Jeanette Veatch Wayland
May 14, 2005
Homophobia and heterosexism
are liturgical threads intricately woven into
the doctrine of traditional world religions.
Non-heterosexual relationships for members are
never condoned; in some religions, participants in lesbian, gay or bisexual relationships are condemned.
Impact of Religious Homophobia on Society
Impact of Religious Heterosexism on Society
Heterosexism is the belief that
heterosexuality is the only
natural, normal and acceptable
This is rarely asserted directly and usually manifests itself subtly within the institutions of society and the attitudes of heterosexuals.
Examples: setting aside certain societal benefits for heterosexuals
(right to marry, right to worship, right to adopt children,
right to file joint tax returns with partner, etc.)
We have seen the effects of religious heterosexism and homophobia on SOCIETY.
But, what effect does heterosexist and homophobic religious liturgy have on religious lesbian, gay and bisexual INDIVIDUALS?
We have never taken the time to ask...
virtually no research
religious lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
but I am not heterosexual...how can I be both?
I’m a Catholic.
…is the psychological discomfort that results when one’s public behavior conflicts with his/her private beliefs. The longer this conflict is unresolved, the more likely we are to suffer emotionally.
A majority of religious lesbian, gay and
bisexual individuals will experience
cognitive dissonance attributable to their exposure to heterosexist religious liturgy throughout their childhood.
This religious-sexual orientation dissonance may be correlated with mental health issues for religious lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals.
Methodology – Self Report Survey
Gender of participant
Participant's Self-reported Sexual Orientation
Participant's childhood religion
Assembly of God
H1: Did the incompatibility between religion and sexual orientation cause you emotional discomfort?
These findings lend support to H1
Extreme Emotional Discomfort
No Emotional Discomfort
These findings lend support to H2
H2: Did you experience any mental health issues as a result of this
religion-sexual orientation dissonance?
Of the 60% reporting mental health issues…
58 % - Anxiety
50 % - Depression
40 % - Isolation
36 % - Low Self-Esteem
32 % - Thoughts of Suicide
21 % - Problems with Authority Figures
19 % - Sexual Behavior that you Later Regretted
13 % - Eating Disorders
11 % - Substance Abuse
11 % - Suicide Attempts
* % add up to greater than 100% – this question was a multiple response item
Where do we go from here?
If orthodox religion expects to remain relevant in society, it must seek to serve all members of humanity – not just a select few.
Eventually, even those who benefit from heterosexism may tire of this hypocrisy.
Non-traditional Religious Denominations that are open and affirming to lesbian, gay and bisexual congregants:
Assembly of God* – Grace Assembly; www.umaffirm.org
Buddhist – dharma friends; www.web.net/~qdharma/home.htm
Christian* – Gay Christian Network;www.gaychristian.net
Catholic* – Dignity USA; www.dignityusa.org
Episcopal* –Integrity; www.integrityusa.org
Hindu – Gay Hindu;www.gayhindu.com
Islam – Queer Jihad; www.well.com/user/queerjhd
Judaism – Frum Gay Jews; www.OrthoGays.com
Lutheran* –Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (LLGM); www.llgm.org
Methodist* – Affirm; www.umaffirm.org
Funding provided by:
UROP – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
Jeanette Veatch Wayland