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.
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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)