“Such were some of you”: crisis and healing in the lives of same-sex attracted Christian men
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Using person-centred ethnography and narrative analysis, this work provides an account of how 16 same-sex attracted Christian men retrospectively constructed experiences of sexual-moral crisis and healing. The first of its kind to explore such experiences in their entirety and reflect on the relationships between various successes, failures, events, and encounters therein, it outlines a shared narrative structure composed of: 1) early experiences of anomie and difference, 2) the unmaking of self and world with the emergence of same-sex attraction, 3) a phase of personal disintegration and ineffective coping, 4) the quest for new possibilities and engagement with various remedial institutions, 5) personal commitment to particular redressive strategies, 6) experiences of healing; and 7) the call to performance and service in the wake of crisis. The author argues that sexual-moral crisis cannot be solely attributed to religiosity nor resolved through evasive strategies of self-bifurcation and denial. Rather, overcoming this conflict requires a reconstruction of self and world capable of restoring personal integrity and bringing the spiritual, moral, and sexual selves into harmonious alignment. This task is primarily social and entails the appropriation of public symbolic devices – explanatory models, plots, and metaphors - to reconfigure one’s experience of self and world. The author outlines three distinct figures that emerge from this transformative process: the sexual ascetic, the ex-gay man, and the gay survivor. Each is associated with a distinct understanding of self and embodies a unique sexual, moral, social, and spiritual existence. Drawing on theories of reading, the author argues that these divergent approaches reflect four considerations: the persuasiveness of the remedial discourse, its relevance to subjective experience, its socio-political acceptability, and its perceived therapeutic efficacy. Ultimately, participants in all three groups described remarkably similar experiences of healing and characterize their current lives as highly satisfying despite complex experiences of growth, loss, and continued struggle. The work effectively eschews binary approaches to sexual orientation and encourages the reader to recognize a diverse array of sexualities, spiritualties, moralities, and selves present in contemporary North American society. Implications for policy development, ethical debate, and psychological practice are discussed.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
ProgramCulture and Human Development
CommitteeAbonyi, Sylvia; Lawson, Karen; Morrison, Todd; Waldram, James
Copyright DateDecember 2015
sexual crisis and healing