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Essay on Gay and Lesbian Spirituality

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I began investigating gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) representations of the sacred during my late adolescence. In college, my knowledge of same-sex desiring and gender-variant deities evolved into a study of the spiritual roles and legacies of GLBTQ people. Such legacies are abundantly evident in parts of the world where indigenous and pluralist religion have remained unhindered, such as on the Indian subcontinent where hijra (male-bodied female-identified individuals) are seen as harbingers of good fortune and curses and perform ceremonies at weddings and births. Early written accounts of traditional same-sex desiring and gender-variant roles in the Western hemisphere can be found in the diaries of the first colonizers as well as an engraving memorializing Vasco Núňez de Balboa’s massacre of third-gender American Indians in what is now Panama. Pejoratively referred to as berdache by early anthropologists (from the Arabic, meaning ‘slave boy’), many modern GLBTQ First Nations people have adopted the term Two-Spirit as a pan-tribal identity that reclaims their traditional spiritual and social roles while transcending labels denoting mere sexual orientation. The term affirms them as unique whole human beings.
So what is the spiritual legacy of GLBTQ people in Diaspora traditions? The answer is as interesting as the diverse strands of conjure throughout the “New World.” Due to the overwhelming forsaking of West African practices by African-Americans in the United States as well as white anthropologists’ tendency to overlook gender-variance in spiritual traditions borne out of Africa, few mentions of this legacy exist. Within the predominantly Protestant context of the Southern United States during the 18th ...


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...h, Sharon. love conjure/blues. Available through New Dramatists Script Library.
Conner, Randy P. Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Lore. London: Cassell, 1997.
Conner, Randy P., and David Hatfield Sparks. Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Participation in African-inspired Traditions in the Americas. New York: Harrington Park, 2004.
Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston: Beacon, 1996.
Hoff, Bert H. "Gays: Guardians of the Gate – An Interview with Malidoma Somé." MenWeb - Men's Issues: Men's Voices Magazine. 1993. Web. 08 Feb. 2011. .
Murray, Stephen O. Boy Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities. Basingstoke [u.a.]: Macmillan, 1998.


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