Sandra L. Barnes

Christianity as a Spiritual Sidepiece: How Young Black People with Diverse Sexual Identities Navigate Religion

  • Religious studies

AbstractResearch about the experiences of young black members of the LGBTQIA community often centers HIV‐related themes. Fewer studies consider more emotive aspects of their lives such as their attitudes and behavior around religion and/or spirituality. This study is a response to this dynamic. Informed by the Structure versus Agency discourse, this qualitative analysis examines dimensions of the religious and spiritual lives of 76 young black members of the LGBTQIA community aged 18–30 years old. Given the continued influence of the Black Church in the black community as well as concerns about the relevance of religion in general, findings here may illumine how a cadre of young black people understand and respond to religion today. Results illustrate the tendency to espouse spirituality over religion; syncretism; and, continued use of Christian practices such as prayer, while compartmentalizing and secularizing this faith tradition. This study introduces the concept of the “spiritual sidepiece” as an exemplar that sheds light on how some young black sexual minorities today are re‐imagining religion, Christianity, the Black Church, and spirituality in their lives.

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