Living in the Tension: What the Conservative Protestant LGBT+ Movement Teaches Us About Toxic Shame, Love, and Justice

“When we center the voices of LGBTQ+ people of color, our qualitative research into the conservative Protestant LGBTQ+ movement reveals how rigid, complementarian Christian teachings systematically reproduce racism and harm LGBTQ+ people. It also allows us to see how LGBTQ+ Christians find and promote personal healing, navigate the tensions that shape their lives, and promote justice rooted in Christian love. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Dawne Moon Marquette University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This project draws from a qualitative study of the conservative Protestant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and similarly “queer” (LGBTQ+) movement. In a popular press book coming from this seven-year study, we will draw from previous historical scholarship to identify the deeply racialized source of complementarian teachings about gender and sexuality. We will then draw from participants’ stories to highlight the harmful dynamic these teachings promote for LGBTQ+ people, which we call sacramental shame. We will center the experiences of LGBTQ+ people of color in order to show how this dynamic elevates heterosexuality and cisgenderness (i.e. not being transgender), along with whiteness and other positions of social privilege, as seemingly unmarked and closer to God. We will explore the dynamics of humility and love involved in overcoming those harms, as well as how heterosexual/cisgender people come to prioritize relationship and become allies, and how participants navigate competing necessities as they promote justice and healing. Ultimately, this study explores the concrete effects of love, its withdrawal, and its restoration in human, and Christian, life.