Title: “Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays”
Speaker: Dr. Bernadette Barton, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Morehead State University
Thursday, January 17, 2013, 2-3:30pm—*WGSS-sponsored
Location: Tangeman University Center 400B
What is it like to grow up gay and live in the Bible Belt? While discussions of gay rights are increasingly prevalent in American media, the thoughts and experiences of gay people, especially those from Bible Belt states, remain background noise in the conversation. Legally, Bible Belt gays are still second-class citizens.
Living in the Bible Belt, a region highly saturated with conservative Christian beliefs and practices, socializes gay men and lesbians to suppress their same-sex attractions, hide them and try to pray the gay away. In this powerful multi-media presentation – including original interview data from lesbians and gay men living in the Bible Belt, video clips and photographs – Dr. Barton illustrates the effects of religious-based homophobia on individual lives.
She concludes the lecture noting that although the institutional voices condemning homosexuality are loud, there is much evidence that acceptance of homosexuality is rapidly increasing among a range of social groups, even in the Bible Belt. Lesbians, gay men and their allies, indeed all those committed to social justice, have reasons to feel hopeful about the future of gay rights in the region.
Dr. Barton is the author of two books, Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays (New York University Press, 2012), and Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers (New York University Press, 2006). Her research on gender, sexuality, feminism, work, and religion has appeared in Feminist Formations, Gender & Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Journal of Homosexuality, Qualitative Sociology, Sexuality & Culture, and Symbolic Interaction.