Virtually Invisible: The Representations of Homosexuality in Black Theology, African American Cultural Criticism, and Black Gay Men's Literature
Sneed, Roger Alex
RELIGION VIRTUALLY INVISIBLE: THE REPRESENTATIONS OF HOMOSEXUALITY IN BLACK THEOLOGY, AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL CRITICISM, AND BLACK GAY MEN’S LITERATURE ROGER ALEX SNEED Dissertation under the direction of Professor Victor Anderson This dissertation is an exploration of black gay visibility in Black Liberation theology and African American cultural criticism. This work begins with an examination of the controlling themes in black theology and black cultural studies. Themes such as experience, black culture and black religion are examined as to how they apply or do not apply to sexual difference in black communities. Further, this is an interpretive study. This dissertation follows the method of black theologians and cultural critics and turns to the literary expressions of black gay men. Three questions are critical to this interpretive study. What are black gay writers saying about their experiences? How do they construct their self-understandings vis-à-vis black culture and black religion? What can we glean from black gay literature and how may we use this literature in revising our theological understandings of black life in America and our descriptions of black culture? Using queer theory, I argue that the term “gay” in both black liberation theology and black cultural criticism represents a particular conception of sexual difference that is static and rigidly dichotomous. However, queer is suggestive of a sexual politics of difference and an ethics of openness. This dissertation examines how black queer writers construe black queer identity in experience, culture and in black religion. The goal of this study is to suggest an ethical reorientation of these critical discourses towards an ethics of openness. This ethics of openness is not predicated upon a perpetual crisis. Rather, an ethics of openness is oriented towards acceptance and appreciation of sexual difference in African American life rather than appropriating such difference in order to combat white supremacy.