Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

A double-edged sword: religious discourses and LGBTQIA+ inclusion

The role of religion in the identity construction of LGBTQIA+ folks

2023 - 2024
Eduardo Alves Vieira

Religion influences the lives of many people worldwide. More specifically, it affects the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals who cannot conciliate their dissident sexualities and non-hegemonic gender identities with their religious affiliations.

Queer scholarship has focused on how exclusionary religious discourses compromise LGBTQIA+ self-assertion and identity construction. However, studies on the intersection of gender, sexuality, language, and religion have not sufficiently analyzed a phenomenon that deserves more attention due to its novelty and growth in Latin America, particularly in Brazil: the role of inclusive churches in shaping LGBTQIA+ identities.

Although inclusive churches welcome LGBTQIA+ people, they nevertheless tend to follow cis-heterosexual norms, influencing their followers’ queerness, behavior, sexual practices, and identities. Such contradiction raises fascinating new questions that this project aims to tackle. For example, how do inclusive religions influence LGBTQIA identity construction and self-assertion in Brazil, one of the most homophobic countries worldwide?

This project has three main objectives: 1) to shed light on how different religious discourses of desire and same-sex sexual practices influence LGBTQIA+ identities; 2) to understand how and why inclusive religious churches are relevant to LGBTQIA+ people in Brazil and beyond; and 3) to fill gaps within the fields of Queer Linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis that lack studies on counterdiscourses that propagate and encourage tolerance toward socially marginalized minority groups.

Relevance of online discourses to understand LGBTQIA+ religious agency

Different studies on the role of religion in LGBTQIA+ lives use the internet as a source for data collection, emphasizing the relevance of (social) media in understanding LGTBQIA+ agency or stigmatization vis-à-vis religious discourses. In addition, some Brazilian inclusive churches start(ed) their ecclesiastic activities online due to the lack of a proper venue, using the web as a primary space to establish and promote their presence and recruit members. Therefore, to answer this project’s overarching research question(s), and given the importance of the online space to Brazilian inclusive churches’ growth, I examine the online discourse of one of the most welcoming religious spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community in Brazil, the Contemporary Christian Church.

All in all, researching inclusive religious discourses and how they affect the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals are critical issues that I address in this project. In sum, this project contributes to a social debate showing that religion has proved to be a double-edged sword capable of enriching or compromising the quality of life of LGBTQIA+ people worldwide.

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