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Diversity Dialogue 1/27: LGBT Affirming Black Churches and HIV/AIDS Crisis in Black America

On Friday, January 27, from noon until 1:30 pm, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction will host the first Diversity Dialogue event of the year, featuring Terrence O. Lewis, Ph.D., MSW, LICSW from Augsburg College who will talk about the Phenomenon of LGBT Affirming Black Churches and their response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis in Black America.

There is a psychosexual health crisis in the African American community, with disproportionate rates of HIV / AIDS infections and poorer medical treatment outcomes for Black men and women (Fullilove, 2006; CDC, 2010). In contrast to the homophobic responses of most Black Churches, some Black Churches are offering an affirmative ministry for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) individuals. Lewis's dissertation examined how these ministries developed and what strategies they employ in response to the HIV/AIDS health crisis. Building on Stigmatization theory, Queer theory, and previous research on Black Churches, Lewis constructs a conceptual framework for interpreting this phenomenon and explores the historical, theological, and practical dimensions of four LGBT-affirming African American ministries.

Using narrative analysis and grounded theory, Lewis analyzed interviews with pastors, church documents, and observational field notes for evidence of the LGBT affirmative ministry. All four pastors credited formal theological education and personal experiences with the LGBT community as sources of their theologies. Two of the pastors self-identified as members of the LGBT community; LGBT inclusion was the central focus of their ministries. The other two pastors integrated LGBT inclusion into a broad-based social justice ministry that focused on multiple oppressions, including racism and sexism. All four pastors seek to provide a ministry that heals the psychological, spiritual, and physical harm that homophobic Black churches inflict on LGBT Black folk. All four pastors seek to discourage behaviors that contribute to the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. Each pastor offered LGBT affirmative strategies for decreasing LGBT stigmatization and HIV infections in the Black community.

Please join us in Peik Hall, Room 40, for some pizza and great conversation.

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