Publishers are giving voice to those whose belief and dedication are too often marginalized in traditional faith communities and in the media. New books centering on the experiences of LGBTQ people call on readers to learn from and embrace those who have been at the margins of their faith communities for far too long.
Out now from Rowman & Littlefield, Religious Trauma: Queer Stories in Estrangement and Return explores the psychological, spiritual, and ritual dimensions of religious trauma among queer people. Through the stories of eight participants, author Brooke N. Peterson, a pastoral theology lecturer at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, “makes a case for religious trauma as an important frame to understand the experiences of queer people in nonaccepting faith communities,” according to the publisher.
Megan White, associate editor for religion at Rowman & Littlfield, says, “We published this title because it is so important to share real stories of both accepting and nonaccepting religious communities, especially when the latter tend to dominate the modern rhetoric and paint an incomplete picture of powerlessness.”
White adds the book is relevant regardless of whether readers identify as LGBTQ. It “allows nonqueer readers a deeper understanding of these individuals, and queer readers a sense of kinship in knowing that others have gone through the same troubles as them.”
And perhaps most importantly, White says the book “offers a hopeful look at life beyond religious trauma. We hope readers are able to walk away with more empathy and are comforted by the knowledge that there is indeed an ‘after’ when it comes to trauma—religious or otherwise.”
The Other Evangelicals: A Story of Liberal, Black, Progressive, Feminist, and Gay Christians—and the Movement That Pushed Them Out, due out from Eerdmans in April 2023, by Union Theological Seminary visiting assistant professor Isaac B. Sharp, is an attempt to redefine what first comes to readers’ minds when they hear the word evangelical.
White, patriarchal, and conservative don’t come close to telling the full story, according to the publisher. Highlighting the voices of Black, feminist, progressive, and gay Christians from the 20th century, Sharp argues that evangelicalism has historically been more inclusive than most people think.
“Definitions of ‘evangelical’ are in flux,” says James Ernest, v-p and editor-in-chief at Eerdmans. “Isaac is pointing out that some who claim to own the label are failing to remember others to whom it has also belonged.”
Another book rejecting stereotypes associated with specific religious communities is Muslims on the Margins: Creating Queer Religious Community in North America, due from NYU Press in April 2023. In it, Katrina Daly Thompson, professor of African cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offers “important insights into the diversity of American Islam,” says Jennifer Hammer, senior editor at NYU.
The title draws on five years’ worth of research into what the publisher calls “nonconformist Muslims” in an unprecedented ethnographic study. Thompson helps “extend the study of gender in Islam to include not only women, but also queer, trans, and nonbinary Muslims in North America,” Hammer adds.