Pride Month Reading

Some Suggested Titles from AAR's Reading Religion

Reading Religion is an open book review website published by the American Academy of Religion. The site provides up-to-date coverage of scholarly publishing in religious studies, reviewed by scholars with special interest and/or expertise in the relevant subfields. Reviews aim to be concise, comprehensive, and timely.

Below, the editors of Reading Religion have selected some books and reviews from the site and have shared some titles available to review. If you’re interested in reviewing books for Reading Religion, take a look at the guidelines. If there are any books missing from the Reading Religion site that you think should be there, email [email protected].

Available to Review

The Shape of Sex: Nonbinary Gender from Genesis to the Renaissance

ByLeah DeVun

From the publisher:
"The Shape of Sex is a pathbreaking history of nonbinary sex, focusing on ideas and individuals who allegedly combined or crossed sex or gender categories from 200–1400 C.E. Ranging widely across premodern European thought and culture, Leah DeVun reveals how and why efforts to define “the human” so often hinged on ideas about nonbinary sex.

The Shape of Sex examines a host of thinkers—theologians, cartographers, natural philosophers, lawyers, poets, surgeons, and alchemists—who used ideas about nonbinary sex as conceptual tools to order their political, cultural, and natural worlds. DeVun reconstructs the cultural landscape navigated by individuals whose sex or gender did not fit the binary alongside debates about animality, sexuality, race, religion, and human nature. The Shape of Sex charts an embrace of nonbinary sex in early Christianity, its brutal erasure at the turn of the thirteenth century, and a new enthusiasm for nonbinary transformations at the dawn of the Renaissance. Along the way, DeVun explores beliefs that Adam and Jesus were nonbinary-sexed; images of “monstrous races” in encyclopedias, maps, and illuminated manuscripts; justifications for violence against purportedly nonbinary outsiders such as Jews and Muslims; and the surgical “correction” of bodies that seemed to flout binary divisions.

Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature

By Max K. Strassfeld

From the publisher:
"Trans Talmud places eunuchs and androgynes at the center of rabbinic literature and asks what we can learn from them about Judaism and the project of transgender history. Rather than treating these figures as anomalies to be justified or explained away, Max K. Strassfeld argues that they profoundly shaped ideas about law, as the rabbis constructed intricate taxonomies of gender across dozens of texts to understand an array of cultural tensions. Showing how rabbis employed eunuchs and androgynes to define proper forms of masculinity, Strassfeld emphasizes the unique potential of these figures to not only establish the boundary of law but exceed and transform it. Trans Talmud challenges how we understand gender in Judaism and demonstrates that acknowledging nonbinary gender prompts a reassessment of Jewish literature and law.”

Gay, Catholic, and American: My Legal Battle for Marriage Equality and Inclusion

By Greg Bourke

From the publisher:
"In this compelling and deeply affecting memoir, Greg Bourke recounts growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, and living as a gay Catholic. The book describes Bourke’s early struggles for acceptance as an out gay man living in the South during the 1980s and ’90s, his unplanned transformation into an outspoken gay rights activist after being dismissed as a troop leader from the Boy Scouts of America in 2012, and his historic role as one of the named defendants in the landmark United States Supreme Court decision Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015. After being ousted by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), former Scoutmaster Bourke became a leader in the movement to amend antigay BSA membership policies. The Archdiocese of Louisville, because of its vigorous opposition to marriage equality, blocked Bourke’s return to leadership despite his impeccable long-term record as a distinguished boy scout leader.”

Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism

By Taylor G. Petrey

From the publisher:
“Taylor G. Petrey’s trenchant history takes a landmark step forward in documenting and theorizing about Latter-day Saints (LDS) teachings on gender, sexual difference, and marriage. Drawing on deep archival research, Petrey situates LDS doctrines in gender theory and American religious history since World War II. His challenging conclusion is that Mormonism is conflicted between ontologies of gender essentialism and gender fluidity, illustrating a broader tension in the history of sexuality in modernity itself. As Petrey details, LDS leaders have embraced the idea of fixed identities representing a natural and divine order, but their teachings also acknowledge that sexual difference is persistently contingent and unstable. While queer theorists have built an ethics and politics based on celebrating such sexual fluidity, LDS leaders view it as a source of anxiety and a tool for the shaping of a heterosexual social order.”

Queer Soul and Queer Theology: Ethics and Redemption in Real Life

By Laurel C. Schneider and Thelathia Nikki Young

From the publisher:
“This book takes up the question of Christian queer theology and ethics through the contested lens of "redemption." Starting from the root infinitive "to deem," the authors argue that queer lives and struggles can illuminate and re-value the richness of embodied experience that is implied in Christian incarnational theology and ethics. Offering a set of virtues gleaned from contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and asexual (LGBTIQA) lives and communities, this book introduces a new framework of ethical reasoning. Battered and wrongly condemned by life-denying theologies of redemption and dessicating ethics of virtue, this book asserts that the resilience, creativity, and epistemology manifesting in queer lives and communities are essential to a more generous and liberative Christian theology.”

Flaming?: The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance

By Alisha Lola Jones

From the publisher:
“Male-centered theology, a dearth of men in the pews, and an overrepresentation of queer males in music ministry: these elements coexist within the spaces of historically black Protestant churches, creating an atmosphere where simultaneous heteropatriarchy and ‘real’ masculinity anxieties, archetypes of the ‘alpha-male preacher’, the ‘effeminate choir director’ and homo-antagonism, are all in play. The ‘flamboyant’ male vocalists formed in the black Pentecostal music ministry tradition, through their vocal styles, gestures, and attire in church services, display a spectrum of gender performances - from ‘hyper-masculine’ to feminine masculine - to their fellow worshippers, subtly protesting and critiquing the otherwise heteronormative theology in which the service is entrenched. And while the performativity of these men is characterized by cynics as ‘flaming,’ a similar musicalized ‘fire’—that of the Holy Spirit—moves through the bodies of Pentecostal worshippers, endowing them religio-culturally, physically, and spiritually like ‘fire shut up in their bones’.”

Reviews to Read

Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders

By Omise′eke Natasha Tinsley 

From the review:
“After I became familiar with the three voices in Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley’s Ezili’s Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders, I began to anticipate their varied timbres: distinct scholarly, spiritual, and ancestral utterances, signified through different fonts. Ezili’s Mirrors is a collage of atemporal, black, and queer lives interpreted through a Haitian Vodou pantheon within a much wider, Vodou-adjacent diaspora.” - Meredith Coleman-Tobias



Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism, and Arts of Resistance in Africa

By Adriaan Van Klinken

From the review:
“In a fascinating dynamic that speaks to the passion and intimacy of the book, the author weaves his story with the stories of those whose lives he narrates. Thus, the author tells us about his connection to the communities he studied and how he is even assigned the position of an ambassador and advocate for these communities.”  – David Ngong


Queer Religiosities: An Introduction to Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion

By Melissa M. Wilcox

From the review:
“[In] an intersectional manner, the author deals with overarching, interconnected topics: stories, conversations, practices, identities, communities, and politics and power. And this approach is refreshing[...] Wilcox continuously engages the readers and asks us thought-provoking questions.” – Cora Gaebel 



Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer: The Church and the Famine of Grace

By Jarel Robinson-Brown 

From the review:
“[This book] is an indictment of the Christian church, particularly in Great Britain, but also on a far wider scale. The book details the church’s neglect of Black LGBTQ+ Christians, its refusal to embrace the intersections of Black and queer identity, and its failure to ensure that Black LGBTQ+ Christians have representation and opportunity within ecclesial settings.” - Benjamin Hollenbach



Dying to be Normal: Gay Martyrs and the Transformation of American Sexual Politics

By Brett Krutzsch

From the review:
“Readers will find Krutzsch’s book a thought-provoking, accessible, and expansive read. Where the author excels is his succinct yet full engagement with a broad and complex history of LGBT violence in America. The figures (Milk, Shepard, Clementi, Teena, Martinez, and the New Jersey Four) he chooses are multifaceted and offer rich opportunity for revision of prior media narratives.” – Jimmy Hamill


The Lonely Letters

By Ashon T. Crawley 

From the review:
“You’re no longer reading; you’re relating. You’re no longer dispassionate and distanced; you’re enraptured. The epistolary structure of the text dispossesses you of your analytic—perhaps philosophical—capacities. The style of the prose—as intimate as it is vulnerable, as theoretical as it is impassioned—has gotten you caught up. This book is changing you. You can’t feel the neutrinos passing through you, but you know they’re there.

This isn’t a book anymore; it’s something else. By the time you’re finished, you’re listening to your breathing like A does. You’re making art; you’re finding your joy.

You now know; you can’t review this book.

Because you haven’t just read a book. You’ve had an encounter. A beautiful, blackqueer, encounter.” - Biko Gray