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Open Access ‘I can now thank God when I come’

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Dynamics of belonging and exclusion and the notion of being ‘in-between’ are common in dominant discourse regarding sexuality and Christianity in Dutch society. Homosexuality and Christianity are considered as incompatible, with religious homosexuals moving in between religiosity and sexuality. This dominant discourse in both media and academia mainly focuses on homosexual men. As a consequence, the lives and narratives of religious non-heterosexual women are silenced and made invisible ‐ an exclusion which this article seeks to address. Based on in-depth interviews with non-heterosexual Protestant women, this article foregrounds the stories, practices, and experiences of these women. It explores different strategies these women use to move beyond the dominant discourse of incompatibility. Instead of positioning Christianity and non-normative sexuality as opposites, these women show how religion and religiosity can affirm love and desire for women. This article argues that the faith of these women enables them to express love and desire in other parts of their life, such as in relations with women. At the same time sexuality, especially same-sex sexuality and female sexuality, is largely unspoken or even condemned within the Churches that these women attend. These women use various strategies to establish a sense of community by questioning established boundaries through an experience of sex as positive and empowering. Through these negotiations of God, sex, love, and the Church, these stories emphasise the agency and creativity of these women by showing the diverse ways in which religion and sexuality intersect and are embodied. As such religion and sexuality are co-constructed and embodied by these women as empowering modes of negotiation.
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Keywords: embodiment; gender; lesbian; lived religion; protestantism; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lieke Schrijvers (1991) has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and recently graduated cum laude from the researchmaster in gender and ethnicity at Utrecht University - during which she spent an extensive period at the University of Toronto - with a thesis on religion and sexuality among non-heterosexual Protestant women in the Netherlands.

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
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