Conforming for Comfort: Religion’s Effect on Sexuality Portrayal

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Time and time again, people are judged on things that are out of their control. An ethnicity, a name, or a sexual preference are just a few of the targeted details that are unchangeable. Within my research, there are many people who face these prejudices everyday just for loving who they truly want. In today’s world especially, more often than not, being anything other than heteronormative is often looked down upon by those who have a strong religious background, even if the person who is not heteronormative and the religious person are one in the same, meaning that a religious person who does not fall within the category of heteronormativity will still identify and portray themselves as normative because of their religious background. People of color have it even worse off than those who are of European descent. My current research focuses on that exact idea: religion’s effect on people of color and their portrayal of sexuality to self, family and friends. My findings show that the majority of people who experience this are people of color, while the primary population of currently existing research is on white men only. During data collection, I had to make sure that my participant consistently felt comfortable and safe enough to speak on such sensitive matters and I more than successfully did so with all 10 of my interview participants. Conclusively, I found that religion plays a larger part on sexuality portrayal than I previously thought possible, meaning that those who are born into religious families or are deeply involved in religion still find it much more difficult to be anything but heterosexual and come out as such because of what their religion says about homosexuality and other non heterosexual identifications, but these findings were still consistent with my hypothesis. Religion is not a bad thing, but it can lead to a struggle to understand one’s self. Sexuality is something that cannot be truly changed by choice, but the way it is shown to the public eye may be altered. The connection between religion and sexuality is simply that the presence of the prior, can cause an individual to change the portrayal of the latter to that of a heterosexual, something that is seen as the societal norm.


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