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The Importance Of Homosexuality In The Bible Belt

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The southeastern and south-central area of the United States known as the Bible Belt, continues to serve as the most prominent intersection between small-town life and conservative evangelical values. A small-town conservative mentality as depicted throughout the novel justifies the exclusion of an entire group strictly on the basis of sexual orientation. By utilizing the strict interpretation of homosexuality as an “abomination” to society, key social institutions like the workplace, education and healthcare attempt to extinguish all forms of existing or potential homoeroticism. While struggling to make sense of an emerging gay identity, Bible Belt homosexuals experience exposure to a wide variety of Christian symbols and ideas that seep its…show more content…
Those that have to juggle same-sex attractions and conflicts with their own religious beliefs struggle to form an identity that pleases both sides. Churches in the Bible Belt stress that one cannot simultaneously be both gay and Christian, which then force questioning individuals to pick one and ignore the other. One of the most common ways in which religiously devout gay and lesbians deal with their conflicting homosexuality and faith is through praying to ask for forgiveness and cure them of their abnormality. As Derek explains, “[the Preacher] would group us with perverts…I needed to go to the altar and just pray and ask God to forgive me every Sunday” (Barton 2012: 66). Not only are individuals expected to turn to their faith in times of great peril, but they are also inclined to beg for a miracle. Religious officials continue to depict homosexuality as a personal choice and something that can be reversed, which in turn creates the impression that their sexuality can be cured. Another, more extreme method of coping with clashing identities includes ex-gay reparative therapy, which was taken a last-resort alternative by interviewee Jennifer. Partaking in gay reparative therapy marks the beginning of a downward spiral where self-loathing is at its peak and desperation for a “quick fix” is imminent. In most…show more content…
Upset about his sexuality and failed attempts to alter it, Thomas went to drastic means involving substance abuse and addiction to manage his identity crisis. While on the verge of a suicidal mission, a near death encounter inspired a new spiritual experience that gave Thomas “the ability to manage his addiction… [and also] gave him a new clarity in his perception of God” (Barton 70). Even though Thomas did not follow through with his intent to kill himself, he still went by destructive means in order to achieve a sense of comfort with his identity. Because of the way this scenario was brought about, it is classified as a dysfunctional technique of coping since it nearly cost him his own life. On the contrary, Joshua went about his predicament in a more harmless fashion, by surrounding himself with a positive environment that helped educate and enlighten his view of homosexuality. He quickly occupied himself by joining the “Bulldog Christian Fellowship, quickly surrounded [himself] with a collection of Christian friends…began reading gay literature on Christianity in order to nurture a positive gay Christian identity” (Barton 2012: 74-75). In comparison to Thomas, Joshua utilized the plethora of student services available that helped expand his support system as well as new
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