Date of this Version
Woodell, Brandi, Emily Kazyak, and D’Lane Compton. 2015. “Reconciling LGB and Christian Identities in the Rural South.” Social Sciences 4: 859-878.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with rural Christians living in the South who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB), this study analyzes how they negotiate their religious, geographic, and sexual identities. We find that most interviewees employed two strategies to reconcile their Christian and gay identities: emphasizing a personal connection to an accepting God and finding a local church in their rural community in which they felt accepted. We argue that rural contexts influenced interviewees’ reliance on these strategies and show how individuals can construct multiple interpretations about themselves, which do not always align with existing cultural assumptions. In addition, we argue that gender differences exist with regard to participants’ residential choices and the importance they place on “community”. We find that, in general, women value the privacy and freedom afforded to them in rural areas, a sentiment that is echoed in their religious choices while many of the men value the close knit community they find in their small towns.