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Abstract

In dominant LGBTQ+ U.S. discourse, the term “closet” refers to a space from which a covert sexual identification and/or orientation emerges. Yet, this definition becomes increasingly complicated when set in the context of evangelical Christianity. Indeed, within the U.S., dominant evangelical discourse is primarily viewed as antagonistic to LGBTQ+ peoples, due to its homophobic stances and denials of LGBTQ+ identities and rights. This opposition raises a key question: what do closet constructions situated at the intersection of gay/Christian identity look like? In this article, I explore and queer several Christian closets as structured by both gay and straight Christian writers. For these writers, faith and gayness play different roles of hiding, reinforcing, and liberating gay and Christian identities within and out of Christian closets. By scrutinizing these Christian closets within a queer framework provided by Eve Sedgwick and Judith Butler, I argue that these closets can be—often simultaneously—representative of the hegemonic demands of evangelical Christianity while espousing queer reimaginings of survival within this demanding ideology itself. Ultimately, I propose that Christian closets provide a unique venue through which overlaps, dissonances, and similarities between LGBTQ+/Christian ideologies and discourses can be affirmed, blurred, and queered. Such work is vital in the context of the present U.S., where these two ostensibly antithetical ideologies are continually thrown in the spotlight—both in expected quarrels or unusual displays of collaboration.

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