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Gay Religion

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0759103269
ISBN-10: 0759103267
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In their introduction, Gray and Thumma express a desire to steer away from "highlighting debates over the place of gay and lesbian believers in American religious life," preferring to examine "new and inventive forms of religious expression created in support of the diverse gay spiritual life in America." The mostly ethnographic research reported by this volume's contributors sometimes succeeds in this mission. René Drumm's fascinating piece about gay Seventh-Day Adventists chronicles the success of a national support group and the surprisingly accepting response many of them have gotten from the SDA community. And Jay Hasbrouk's essay about Radical Faeries explicates the little-known and even less understood communities of gay men who practice a mix of pagan and animistic rituals. Thumma and Gray separate the book's 21 essays into three categories, "Denominational Heritage Expressions," "Subaltern/Sectarian Expressions" and "Popular Expressions," and include an essay by Marie Griffith that challenges this taxonomy. While the sectioning of the book will probably work for most readers, the use of disappointingly dated research may not. In the first section, for example, Thumma's essay about gay evangelicals and Moshe Shokeid's essay about a gay synagogue both feature field work done between 15 and 25 years ago. In an anthology that does not purport to be a history, the absence of more recent investigations is frustrating.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


This collection of essays can inform an issue that has too much divided religious folk in recent decades. Perhaps if we knew more about the subject we seem determined to debate so fiercely we might make some progress toward actually hearing one another. Thumma and Gray have given us a source of information which has heretofore been entirely missing. Now, if we will use it the church might return to its more ancient work. (Rev. Michael S. Piazza, Dean of the Cathedral of Hope, Dallas)

Gay Religion, with its valuable and insightful array of articles, maps an uncharted terrain of translesbigay spirituality in contemporary American religious culture. The authors provide insight into the diverse strategies that translesbigays use to negotiate between institutional religion and their sexual orientation identities. It also highlights creative, innovative forms of rainbow spirituality, from queer appropriation of Catholic saints, to reconciling congregations to the spiritual experiences of leather spirituality, evangelical gospel drag, and circuit parties. The volume testifies to the vibrant spirituality of a community, often oppressed by religion. (Robert Goss, MCC Pastor/Theologian and author of Jesus ACTED UP and Queering Christ.)

Gay Religion provides a valuable resource, both as a text and a typology, to continue studying and documenting the relationship between homosexuality and religion in the United States in the twenty-first century. It will be a valuable resource in the classroom to enable students to see the complexity of the LGBT lifestyle both in American religion and society. Furthermore, Gay Religion will spur current students to become scholars of the emerging field of gay religion. (Craig This Journal Of Men, Masculinities and Spirituality)

Putting a human face on what is too often contested as an abstract concept, Thumma and Gray and their contributors do not so much debate the possibility of gay religion as portray its reality. In vivid accounts of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Santeria, neo-Pagan and other LGBT communities, readers will encounter much that is comfortingly familiar alongside that which is new and startling. The collection and the realities it depicts testify to the inexhaustible adaptability and diversity of American religion. This is an important and timely book. (R Stephen Warner, professor of sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press (November 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759103267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759103269
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Aaron R. Spiegel on February 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for any religious leader regardless their opinion on gay and lesbian issues. Thumma and Gray have assembled ethnographies that cover the gamut of the American religious spectrum. The chapters are interesting and often compelling. The editors appear not to espouse an opinion or judgment on the individual reports letting each stand on its own merit. This is particular refreshing. It's important to note these chapters are ethnographies. The tone is generally academic often based on field studies and reporting.

I disagree with Publishers Weekly about the timeliness of several of the reports. While they may be older reports, I found them still relevant. I'm sure if there were more recent reports the editors would have included them.
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Gay Religion is not only a must read for theologians, but also for the student, the professional, and the layperson. Thumma and Gray did a great job including various aspects of Gay Religion in the current American culture - from circuit parties and Faeries, to evangelicals and everything in-between. The presentation of these various religious practices is enlightening, even if one questions the practice as a legitimate "religion or religious practice"- but isn't that the beauty of living in the United States (at least in theory). I recommend Gay Religion as a great introduction to the landscape of current religion and religious practices of American gay men and women.
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