Islam and Homosexuality: Identity, Threat and Sexual Wellbeing among Muslim Gay Men

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For decades, social scientists have conducted research into identity processes among gay men of religious faith (Coyle & Rafalin, 2000; Harris et al., 2020; Jaspal & Cinnirella, 2010, 2012; Maatouk & Jaspal, 2022). In this work, it has become clear that contemplating the relationship between sexuality and religion can be a source of psychological distress. In many religious traditions, there is an emphasis on heterosexual marriage – the sacred, spiritual, and physical union of a man and a woman. Homosexuality is often represented as a contravention of this religious expectation. This chapter focuses on the relations between religion and sexuality – two facets of identity that are often inter-connected – among Muslim gay men in particular. It examines some of social and psychological challenges to sexual wellbeing that have been observed in previous research into Muslim gay men. The chapter considers sexual wellbeing in the broadest sense, focusing not only on physical sexual health outcomes but also those relating to one’s emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. The application of tenets of Identity Process Theory and Social Representations Theory from social psychology can enhance our understanding of the inter-relations between religion and sexuality among Muslim gay men and enable us to understand the implications for their overall sexual wellbeing. Crucially, the synthesis of existing theory and research constitutes an important step toward developing measures to enhance wellbeing in this population.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSexuality in the Middle East and North Africa
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary issues and challenges
EditorsJ. Michael Ryan, Helen Rizzo
Place of PublicationSyracuse, NY
PublisherSyracuse University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

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