Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

Committee Chair

Lindsey J Thomas


The Catholic Church is one of the oldest and most widespread religious organizations in the world. Most people are familiar with the Church in some way, but very few know what it is like to be a sexual or gender minority while being raised in a religion as conservative and set in its ways as the Catholic Church. We know that queer people do not stop existing just because one is religious, but not much is known about the sense-making that goes into performing both queer and Catholic identities. Narratives are particularly important tools of both sense-making and performance for individuals, and so these narratives were examined to better understand their experiences. Through interviews and surveys, I listened to queer former Catholics tell their stories and then examined how these participants made sense of their experiences with the Catholic Church as a sexual/gender minority. Results showed a variety of ways the Church teaches and enforces the gender binary and [hetero]sexuality, along with a variety of core shared experiences for queer former Catholics. For participants themselves, results revealed how difficult the queer Catholic identity can be to hold, the inherent burden that comes from being queer, and four thematic stages of ideological integration/deconstruction. These results indicate a lack of support for minority members in the Catholic Church of America, an inherent ideological difference between Hispanic Catholicism and American Catholicism, and a greater need for spaces for queer folks who were raised Catholic to have spaces to share these stories and to find others with similar backgrounds.


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