Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Social Problems

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

This article examines how lesbian, gay, and straight-but-affirming members of lesbian- and gay-affirming churches in the South challenged a deep-rooted Christian belief in homosexual sin. Data are taken from 200 hours of participant observation and 25 in-depth interviews in two Protestant churches: one predominantly black, working class, lesbian, and evangelical, and the other mostly white, middle class, heterosexual, and liberal. I identify three strategies lesbian, gay, and straight-but-affirming church members used to accommodate—but not assimilate—to heteronormative conceptions of the “good Christian.” First, some black lesbians minimized their sexuality as secondary to the Christian identity. Second, most lesbian and gay members—both black and white—normalized their sexuality by enacting Christian morals of monogamy, manhood, and motherhood. Third, a small group of black lesbian/gay and white, straight-but-affirming members moralized their sexuality as grounds for challenging homophobia in the church. Using these strategies, church members both resisted notions of homosexual sin and reproduced a “politics of respectability” (Warner 1999) among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Findings shed empirical light on two issues in the social problems literature: (1) the inseparability of race and gender from sexual identity; and (2) the importance of an intersectional analysis in assessing the possibilities of faith-based strategies for sexual equality. Keywords: identity, intersectionality, religion, sexuality, heteronormativity.

Publisher Statement

Published as ["We are God's Children, Y'All:" Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Lesbian- and Gay-Affirming Congregations. Krista McQueeney. Social Problems, Vol. 56, No. 1 (February 2009), pp. 151-173. © 2009 by the University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by University of California Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social Problems for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on JSTOR ( or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,