“Wading in troubled waters: LGBTI Christian service in disaster recovery”

Authors: Patricia Stukes*, Texas Woman's University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Sexuality, Religion
Keywords: Sexuality, Disaster Research, Place attachment, Sustainability, Hurricane Katrina
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Napoleon B3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As the current administration withdraws participation from The Paris Climate Accord, the US continues to witness an increase in the severity of catastrophic disasters, both natural and manmade. The resultant role of faith-based organizations (especially as first responders) continues to expand in local communities. While many larger churches of varying denominations enjoy prominence and shared access to resources distributed by federal and non-profit disaster recovery agencies, there is a mostly invisible LGBTI faith-based presence that operates on the fringes of society. Despite the scapegoating of many LGBTI peoples in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, some LGBTI faith-based entities insist upon mobilizing disaster responses for those who are often marginalized by mainstream disaster ministries in the community. This paper explores questions of faith, conflict, and caring by LGBTI members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) after Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. For the pastors and parishioners (many of whom sustained damages themselves), that participated in the response dubbed the “Caravan of Hope,” Christian service is emphasized as an important and integral aspect of identity, especially at it pertains to rebuilding and sustaining a geographical and spiritual safe space for LGBTI worship, and the community-at-large. The self-mobilization of MCC members and their allies in disaster environments represents a means through which LGBTI Christians may navigate some adversity and vulnerability, but also maintain a strong sense of place-attachment, and negotiate capacity-building in hopes of more integration into a larger community of mainstream disaster ministries, and the local community as a whole.

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