I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made - Dutch queer Christians’ narratives and experiences of the self, love, God, and ‘the Institute’
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This ethnographic study, conducted over four months, delves into how Dutch queer Christians in The Netherlands construct and (re)negotiate their identities and corporeality through individual narratives and lived experiences. Focused on listening to participants’ individual stories, the research aims to go beyond the imposed and framed societal narrative of queer Christian identity as ‘dichotomous’, nuancing the importance of fluidity and intersectionality regarding the process of identity construction. In this mosaic of experiences, ‘the Institute’ emerges as a negative signifier in identity construction and corporeality, entangled with power dynamics rooted in early experiences of a ‘punishing almighty God’. Queer Christians navigate and manoeuvre boundary making processes, engaging in a performative dance to grapple with their identities within the complexities of ‘the Institute’, heteronormativity, judgments from the queer community, and the gender binary. Another central theme in this study is the focus on the conditional marker of tolerance, focussing on the paradox of tolerance in relation to liberal secularism in Dutch society. Within this manoeuvring, reframing the narrative of God and faith becomes crucial, leading to self-love and acceptance. Despite imposed ‘versusses’, and the feeling of being caught in the power of the versus, queer Christians demonstrate strength and agency: resulting in the reconciliation of queer Christian identity. The research advocates for attentive listening, highlighting the significance of positionality and integrity in engaging in research regarding sensitivities and vulnerabilities. Here, the individuality of queer Christians is underscored within their collectivity, portraying them not as ‘victims’ of power structures, but as individuals engaged in a continual (re)negotiated road to self-acceptance and (self)love.