Journeys of Heterosexual-Identified Individuals With an Evangelical Christian Background From Anti-Gay to Pro-Gay, Terry Howard Hildebrandt
A qualitative research study was conducted using semi-structured interviews with 12 heterosexuals with an evangelical Christian background who had changed from anti-gay to pro-gay in their beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors regarding same-sex sexuality (also known as homosexuality) and lesbian and gay people. Interviews were analyzed using categorical content analysis to reveal 10 key themes along with 11 additional subthemes. In addition, holistic form narrative analysis was done to reveal two primary patterns with multiple process steps defining the structure of the journeys from anti-gay to pro-gay. Primary findings included that a personal crisis, typically unrelated to same-sex sexuality, preceded the changes in beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The crisis created critical reflection on their previously held beliefs and assumptions regarding what they had been taught by their prior evangelical churches. The crisis and subsequent growth also created openness later in their journeys for participants to rethink their moral positions on same-sex sexuality and challenge their previously held assumptions about lesbian and gay people. Sociocultural context played an important role in shaping beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors concerning same-sex sexuality and lesbian and gay people. Contact experiences with lesbian and gay people both at work and at church played an important role in their journeys. The journeys from anti-gay to pro-gay are theorized as conversion processes with transformative learning. Two primary patterns emerged in the journeys depending upon whether the participants accepted evangelicalism in childhood or later converted to evangelicalism as adults. Process models for the journeys from anti-gay to pro-gay are proposed for both patterns.
Key Words: homosexuality, homosexuality (attitudes toward), same-sex sexuality, conversion, gay and lesbian, transformative learning, anti-gay, pro-gay, religion-based bigotry, prejudice, homophobia, heterosexism, evangelical, Christian, heterosexual, heterosexual allies, advocacy, LGBT, GLBT, holistic form, narrative inquiry, qualitative study, biblical hermeneutics