Presentation Time: 9:25-9:45
Home University: UNC-Chapel Hill
Research Mentor: Sharon P. Holland, American Studies
Research Title: God Loves Women, and I Do Too: Black Queer North Carolinian Women’s and Nonbinary Folks Engagement with Religion and Spirituality
As a Black queer woman, Mahogany Mckoy was averse to the preachings she experienced as a child that being queer and certainly transgender was a sin. As a child, she didn’t understand why this was a factor and walked away from Christianity throughout high school. Mckoy’s story is similar to the story of other Southern Black queer women and nonbinary people that experienced heterosexism, transphobia, and rigid gender roles in the church. Through oral history interviews, I’ve found that Mckoy and 5 other young North Carolinian Black queer women and nonbinary people have moved away from Christianity and organized religions toward practices that are rooted in other forms of spirituality. This shift also coincides with their coming out stories, self-exploration, and interrogation of their gender and sexual identities. Most of the participants found that spirituality separate from organized religion has allowed them to have more freedom in the practice and expression of their spiritualities and identities. How are North Carolinian Black queer women and nonbinary people interacting with religion and forms of spirituality? How do their identities affect these interactions? This narrative paper illustrates the similarities and key differences among vastly different North Carolinian Black queer women and nonbinary people to see how their gender, race, and sexuality have played key roles in influencing their spiritual and religious journeys.