Journal Article

When Sheila's a Lesbian: Religious Individualism among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christians

Melissa M. Wilcox

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 63, issue 4, pages 497-513
Published in print January 2002 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2002 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3712304
When Sheila's a Lesbian: Religious Individualism among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Christians

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The pseudonymous Sheila Larson is well known among sociologists of religion for having coined the term “Sheilaism” to refer to her personal belief system — an individualistic religiosity that has concerned many social commentators. Recently, however, authors such as Wuthnow (1998) and Roof (1999) have suggested that the various forms of religious individualism may be advantageous for some. Working from interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians and former Christians, this article contributes two new angles to such discussions by 1) arguing for a more nuanced understanding of individualism as a tool or tactic rather than as the diametric opposite of religious communalism and 2) exploring the role of such individualism in the lives of those who are forced into it.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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