Course: Queering the Spirit

This course by Elizabeth Peréz is winner of the LGBTQ Religious Archive Network’s Educational Resource Prize in 2022.

LGBT Religious History: Queering the Spirit


This course offers the opportunity to examine religion as experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people. It adopts a comparative historical perspective in considering the multiplicity of LGBTQIA+ religious identities that have existed and continue to thrive around the world. It also traces the emergence of gender categories and norms in a range of different societies (beginning with our own, in the unit “Inventing Sexuality”). Course readings include autobiographical, anthropological, sociological, and theological sources so as to paint most vibrant picture possible of LGBTQIA+ religious life. Special analytical attention is paid to traditions in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual people have been privileged as ritual specialists (such as healers and trance mediums) and community leaders.


By the end of the class, I hope that you will have gained some appreciation for 1) the diversity of LGBTQIA+ peoples’ religious commitments and practices; 2) the dynamic relationship between scriptural texts and their human interpreters; 3) the role that ritual plays in mediating between sexual minorities and the institutions to which they belong; 4) the way that authoritative religious narratives and performances combine to naturalize gendered behavior; and 5) the significance of sacred spaces as sites of resistance. I also hope that you will have had fun, and found a space for intellectual exploration in our classroom.


Course Syllabus

A view of the course as it appears in UCSB's online system.

Discussion Slides: