Longitudinal Study of LDS Men Reconciling Conflicting Religious and Sexual Identities

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Virginia Tech

This qualitative study is an exploration of the ways individuals experience and reconcile seemingly incompatible sexual and religious identities. The experience of espousing a religious identity which prohibits homosexuality while simultaneously being attracted to others of the same gender is not uncommon. This phenomenon and how individuals navigate it is poorly understood. Though it is often mentioned in existing literature, few if any studies highlight conflicting identities as the core conflict for this population. No existing studies apply identity theories to the phenomenon. For this study data were taken from two points in time, over nearly four years, from four participants. Results from survey 1 and survey 2 were compared for insights into the process of reconciliation. Results were also compared to two strains of identity theory (Stryker and Burke, 2000) to identify applicability of said theory to this phenomenon. Participants all report a conflict between sexual and religious identities. Relatively minor shifts in how they conceptualize and make meaning of their experiences are observed. All experienced a deepening of their understanding and relationship with self and God. Some report aspects of therapy that were helpful/unhelpful to them in this process. Also included are strengths and limitations of this study, implications for future research, and application of findings to a clinical setting.

religious, gay, conflicting identities, identity, sexual identity, religious identity