Beyond Surviving: From Religious Oppression to Queer Activism is now on sale. Joshua’s new book openly discusses how sexuality and religion collide in the lives of students. This internal and external conflict greatly affects the lives of many, yet it is rarely discussed.
Beyond Surviving: From Religious Oppression to Queer Activism vividly brings voice to the stories of Christian students in same-sex relationships as they encountered oppression, adolescence, first-love, and then a passion for social justice. Each of the students had early experiences related to family, religious, and educational socialization, which framed the ways in which they experienced their same-sex relationships as high school and college students. Although there were many positive outcomes of being in a same-sex relationship as a youth, all of the participants described internal and external conflicts that they had to manage and overcome. These stories are filled with attempts of suicide, physical and verbal abuse, isolation, loneliness, depression, and hospitalizations; moreover, they are also filled with triumph, self-realizations, community building, and the development of powerful queer leaders. These students turned their oppressive experiences into fuel for queer activism. Each student’s story is unique, heart breaking, and charged with unrelenting perseverance. The conflicts described related to seeking family support, having to hide relationships, seeking community acceptance, deconstructing socialization, and doubting the morality of the relationship.
Readers will quickly be captivated by the students’ vulnerability, hope, and passion to help others. Tyler forgiving his mom after she violently attacked him and institutionalized him will bring tears of sadness and hope. Donald’s decision to not take his life in order to be an example for his nephew demonstrates his selfless commitment to serving others. He Jooni’s persistence in finding a church community that does not condemn her will allow readers to understand the complications of finding a religious community. Mark’s story brings light to the challenges people face as they attempt to figure out how their African-American heritage, Christian religion, and sexuality fit in their lives. Eric describes his transition from getting an exorcism, to protesting Christian colleges, and then an Ivy League religious studies program. Readers will close this book with new understandings of the diverse struggles people face resolving how their religion, spirituality, and sexuality fit within their lives. Moreover, readers will be inspired to embrace challenges and fight to change the society they live in rather than change themselves to fit society.
As each student struggled to overcome internal and external conflicts they relied on a variety of institutional and individual resources, which provided support to them as they attempted to resolve challenges with their religious, spiritual, and sexual identities. Some institutional support systems included university lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) campus centers and student organizations, supportive and well-informed counselors, and openly affirming churches. Some of the individual support systems included university student affairs staff members, close friends, wellness and stress management events, and media venues that positively portrayed non-heterosexual people. These students did more than just wait for it to get better or just survive the oppression they faced from families, schools, the LGBT community, and religious institutions; they thrived as community and educational leaders. Through their pain they triumphed to inspire others to overcome obstacles and create change in their communities.