The Intersectionality Identified within Cognitive Dissonance with a Concentration on the Interactions between Religiosity and the LGBTQ+ Community.

AuthorTillman, Luke
PositionArticle 3

The LGBTQ+ Community's Status Quo

The LGBTQ community's relationship with religion is an interesting and constantly shifting one. This relationship is abstract in its nature, meaning that there is no one definition as the word "religion" cannot stand for any single principle or essence. (1) However, in concrete terms, it can be stated that the LGBTQ+ identity has been impacted by geographic location and religious involvement. Hence, research in the South may provide new insights into the role of religion in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people. (2) Drs. Brenda Beagen and Brenda Hattie noted from one of their studies on LGBTQ experiences with religion that many of their participants who were raised Christian described deep shame as they struggled to come to terms with their sexual orientation. (3) Stuart Roe found that many LGBTQ children felt a lack of support from parents or parent figures, and that they felt that the church or religion acted as a barrier to support from their parents at best--and at worst, [religion] was a source of pain. (4) One major problem that was seen was the presence of religious-based exclusion and internalized religious-based homophobia. Religious-based exclusion is often described as being excluded by churches once [individuals] could no longer hide their gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender identities. (5) A study by Ruard Ganzevoort, Mark van der Laan, and Erik Olsman sought to see how individuals growing up in religious communities while experiencing sexuality/gender identity confusion navigate the information being taught to them. They found that churches teach four fundamental values that undermine sexual identity exploration: holiness, subjectivity, obedience, and responsibility. (6) They identified the four negotiation tactics used by LGBTQ individuals: recognizing the Christian lifestyle, identifying with a gay lifestyle, compartmentalization, and social integration. In another study, the researchers examined the ways in which students used religion to determine and facilitate aspects of their identity. They found that identity was linked to seeking out both belief-confirming consultation (BCC) and belief-threatening consultation (BTC) for religious doubts. (7) Another way that people aligned their sexual identity and their religion is to participate in religious groups or churches that, "gave lesbian women and gay men a space to redefine their stigmatized sexuality by constructing and performing identities as lesbian/gay and Christian." (8) This identified a method of normalizing sexuality and religious texts in order to create unity. One common alternative to these two possible options, is completely removing yourself from religion.

The Goal of this Research

The goal of this study is to examine LGBTQ+ individuals who have either left religion or who are still active in a religious practice. For the individuals still active in religion, this study aimed to identify sub-groups based on the coping mechanisms used by those participants to resolve the potential dissonance they feel between the two facets of their personality. Then these subgroups are compared to those who had left religion (which comprises its own dissonance reduction strategy) in order to examine which coping mechanism promotes the best mental health outcomes in terms of self-esteem, authenticity, and meaning in life. The current study represents an exploratory study of what dissonance reduction mechanism are most common and most effective in terms of mental health.


Participants were contacted via a variety of different methods. The three recruitment methods were flyers, listserv emails, and Sona. The listserv emails were sent to all the students, staff, and employees of Texas A&M that are enrolled in the campus-wide email chain. Sona is a subject pool used by the university to attract and organize students who are interested in participating in research and this study used the psychology Sona subject pool. There were three requirements to participate in this study. The first two were parameters regarding age and accessibility. Each participant had to be between eighteen and twenty-seven years old. Twenty-one point three four years old was the average age of all participants who completed this study. They had to be connected to the university; this ensured that they had access to a university recognized Zoom account. The final requirement served as the prescreen for this study. Every participant had to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community and had to have experience in an organized religion. Thirty-nine participants register to participate but only twenty-nine students completed the study. There were thirteen male participants, twelve female participants, and four non-gender conforming participants. To differentiate the participants by sexuality: there were ten gay participants, three lesbian participants, one transgender participant, nine bi-sexual participants, four pansexual participants, and two queer participants. This was followed by the distinction between past or current religious involvement; one Jehovah's Witness participant, seven Catholics, four Lutherans, one Seventh Day Adventist, two Pagans, and fourteen Christians. Each participant was grouped based on their personal identification. It is essential in research conducted on personal identity that the participants are grouped via their personal experiences rather than the social or group belief. Each participant was sent a Google form that logged their information, availability, and answers to prescreening question. After completing this, they were contacted to set up an interview.

The groups that participants were assigned to Group A and Group B served as the independent variable, whereas the questionnaires served as a dependent variable since it was composed of a variety of measures for authenticity and well-being.

This study is dependent upon the use of a variety of questionnaires. The questionnaires were given to every participant after the completion of their interview. The purpose of these questionnaires was to gain a holistic perspective on the mental health of the participants. Each participant completed the following measures.

Multidimensional Meaning in Life

Meaning, Coherence, Purpose, Mattering were tested via the Meaning in Life scale. Participants completed the Multidimensional Meaning in Life Scale at both time points. The scale is composed of separate subscales to gauge Meaning in Life Judgments, Cosmic Mattering, Coherence, and Purpose. (9) Meaning in Life Judgments is composed of four items (ex: "My life as a whole has meaning," and "My existence is empty of meaning.") Cosmic Mattering is composed of four items (e.x. "Even considering how big the universe is, I can see that my life matters;" "My existence is not significant in the grand scheme of things.") Coherence is composed of four items (e.x. "Looking at my life as whole, things seem clear to me;" "I can't make sense of events in my life.") Purpose is composed of four items (e. x. "I have a good sense of what I am trying to accomplish in life;" "I don't have compelling life goals that keep me going.") In each subscale, participants rate their agreement with each item on a scale from one ("Strongly...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT