Queer Women and Religious Individualism

Queer Women and Religious Individualism

Melissa M. Wilcox
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Format: Paperback 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-22116-2
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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2010

Melissa M. Wilcox explores the complex spiritual lives of queer women in the Los Angeles area. She takes the reader on a tour of a colorful array of religious and secular groups that serve as spiritual resources for these women—from the well-known Metropolitan Community Churches to Wiccan covens, from the Gay and Lesbian Sierrans to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Arguing that these women's stories are exemplary cases of postmodern patterns of religious identity, belief, and practice, Wilcox offers a nuanced analysis of contemporary Western spirituality and selfhood, and a detailed exploration of the history of queer religious organizing in Los Angeles. Queer Women and Religious Individualism is important reading for scholars in religious studies, sociology, women's studies, and LGBT studies.

Author Bio

Melissa M. Wilcox is Associate Professor of Religion and Gender Studies at Whitman College and author of Coming Out in Christianity: Religion, Identity, and Community (IUP, 2003) and editor (with David Wayne Machacek) of Sexuality and the World's Religions.


“Exploring spiritual, queer, and community identity in 21st-century America, this book is important reading for scholars in religious studies, sociology, women's studies, and LGBT studies alike.”

“Original research into areas that have not been much investigated or written about. . . . A rather masterful user of [theory], Wilcox is especially interested in taking the idea of 'intersectionality' . . . and using it as a theoretical reminder that one must represent women in their clearest life contexts of race, gender, community, economics, physical and emotional resources, etc., as well as the individual power they muster to create their own religious lives.”
 — Leonard Primiano, Cabrini College

“[This book] approaches the dialogue [of women and religion] with a timely case study that explores the intersection of religious experience and queer identities.”
 — JAAR / Jrnl American Academy of Religion

“In this volume Wilcox explores her findings of a survey of women conducted in the Los Angeles area, investigating female sexual variations in relation to religion and spirituality....The volume usefully concludes with biographical summaries and methodological considerations.”
 — Stephen Hunt, Religion and Gender

“A remarkably fine study in the sociology of religion. [Wilcox] proves herself the equal of Robert Bellah et al., in their landmark community studies Habits of the Heart (1985) and The Good Society, by combining the skills of an adept urban historian, social geographer, gender philosopher, and empathetic observer. [The result is] a close description of contemporary styles of spiritual seeking and alternative strategies of human identity formation. Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Map of Los Angeles

1. Beyond the Congregation
2. Setting the Stage: Historical Contexts
3. Queering the Spiritual Marketplace
4. Negotiating Religion: Continuity, Conversion, Innovation
5. Tiles in the Mosaic: Organizations as Resources
6. Building a Mosaic: The Sacred (and the) Self
7. Queer Women, Religion, and Postmodernity

Appendix A. Biographical Summaries
Appendix B. Methods and Methodological Considerations
Appendix C. Interview Schedules
Selected Bibliography

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