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].

Reviews to Read

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

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

By Laurel C. Schneider and Thelathia Nikki Young

From the review:

“This book exhibits the sort of theological reflection that occurs when actual Christian lives, rather than abstract theological or philosophical concepts, are central to the project. In addition to being theologically sophisticated, the book contains beautiful, theologically rigorous writing. . . . Young and Schneider share their own stories of queer struggles and queer joy—inviting others to find God’s presence in their own lives. As such, the book offers a brilliant rethinking of Christian doctrine and a moving testimony of queer Christian creativity, persistence, and faith.”- Aaron Klink

Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism

By Taylor G. Petrey

From the review:

“One might call Petrey’s hypothesis a queering of modern Mormon history of gender and sexuality. It entails an exploration of ambivalences in the conservative teachings of church leaders responding to the social changes that led to the civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, feminism, and gay, lesbian, and trans rights movements. . . . His work enriches the current scholarship from multiple perspectives[.]” - Diana Lunkwitz

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

By Leah DeVun

From the review:

“One of the highest accomplishments, in my humble opinion, is when we can make the stories of our ancient and medieval subjects resonate with modern experiences and issues. DeVun’s book accomplishes this in a stunning manner. Though DeVun brings the history of science, theology, art history, queer, feminist, and trans* theory to bear on their sources, they manage to write in a manner that is not only nuanced but accessible, complex but understandable. This book is, to put it simply, a revelation.” - Jeannie Sellick

Queer Companions: Religion, Public Intimacy, and Saintly Affects in Pakistan

By Omar Kasmani

From the review:

“By engaging with the ways in which fakirs in Sehwan encounter and experience affective bonds with the more-than-human and more-than-living, Kasmani ingeniously illustrates a form of queer world-making in unexpected places. For those who ruminate on questions pertaining to queerness, Islam, affective encounters with more-than-human entities, and/or religion-state relations, Queer Companions is an essential book and it will truly bloom as a companion in the time to come.” - Febi R. Ramadhan

Available for Review

Hidden Histories: Faith and Black Lesbian Leadership

By Monique Moultrie

From the publisher:
"In Hidden Histories, Monique Moultrie collects oral histories of Black lesbian religious leaders in the United States to show how their authenticity, social justice awareness, spirituality, and collaborative leadership make them models of womanist ethical leadership. By examining their life histories, Moultrie frames queer storytelling as an ethical act of resistance to the racism, sexism, and heterosexism these women experience. She outlines these women’s collaborative, intergenerational, and leadership styles, and their concerns for the greater good and holistic well-being of humanity and the earth. She also demonstrates how their ethos of social justice activism extends beyond LGBTQ and racialized communities and provides other models of religious and community leadership. Addressing the invisibility of Black lesbian religious leaders in scholarship and public discourse, Moultrie revises modern understandings of how race, gender, and sexual identities interact with religious practice and organization in the twenty-first century.”


Kids on the Street: Queer Kinship and Religion in San Francisco's Tenderloin

By Joseph Plaster

From the publisher:
“In Kids on the Street Joseph Plaster explores the informal support networks that enabled abandoned and runaway queer youth to survive in tenderloin districts across the United States. Tracing the history of the downtown lodging house districts where marginally housed youth regularly lived beginning in the late 1800s, Plaster focuses on San Francisco’s Tenderloin from the 1950s to the present. He draws on archival, ethnographic, oral history, and public humanities research to outline the queer kinship networks, religious practices, performative storytelling, and migratory patterns that allowed these kids to foster social support and mutual aid. He shows how they collectively and creatively managed the social trauma they experienced, in part by building relationships with johns, bartenders, hotel managers, bouncers, and other vice district denizens. By highlighting a politics where the marginal position of street kids is the basis for a moral economy of reciprocity, Plaster excavates a history of queer life that has been overshadowed by major narratives of gay progress and pride.”


German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus

By Marc David Baer

From the publisher:
“Hugo Marcus (1880–1966) was a man of many names and many identities. Born a German Jew, he converted to Islam and took the name Hamid, becoming one of the most prominent Muslims in Germany prior to World War II. He was renamed Israel by the Nazis and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp before escaping to Switzerland. He was a gay man who never called himself gay but fought for homosexual rights and wrote queer fiction under the pen name Hans Alienus during his decades of exile.

In German, Jew, Muslim, Gay, Marc David Baer uses Marcus’s life and work to shed new light on a striking range of subjects, including German Jewish history and anti-Semitism, Islam in Europe, Muslim-Jewish relations, and the history of the gay rights struggle. Baer explores how Marcus created a unique synthesis of German, gay, and Muslim identity that positioned Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as an intellectual and spiritual model. Marcus’s life offers a new perspective on sexuality and on competing conceptions of gay identity in the multilayered world of interwar and postwar Europe. His unconventional story reveals new aspects of the interconnected histories of Jewish and Muslim individuals and communities, including Muslim responses to Nazism and Muslim experiences of the Holocaust. An intellectual biography of an exceptional yet little-known figure, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay illuminates the complexities of twentieth-century Europe’s religious, sexual, and cultural politics.”


Circuits of the Sacred: A Faggotology in the Black Latinx Caribbean

By Carlos Ulises Decena

From the publisher:
“In Circuits of the Sacred Carlos Ulises Decena examines transnational black Latinx Caribbean immigrant queer life and spirit. Decena models what he calls a faggotology—the erotic in the divine as found in the disreputable and the excessive—as foundational to queer black critical and expressive praxis of the future. Drawing on theoretical analysis, memoir, creative writing, and ethnography of Santería/Lucumí in Santo Domingo, Havana, and New Jersey, Decena moves between languages, locations, pronouns, and genres to map the itineraries of blackness as a “circuit,” a multipronged and multisensorial field. A feminist pilgrimage and extended conversation with the dead, Decena’s study is a provocative work that transforms the academic monograph into a gathering of stories, theoretical innovation, and expressive praxis to channel voices, ancestors, deities, theorists, artists, and spirits from the vantage point of radical feminism and queer-of-color thinking.”


Come Now, Let Us Argue It Out: Counter-Conduct and LGBTQ Evangelical Activism

By Jon Burrow-Branine

From the publisher:
Come Now, Let Us Argue It Out provides a look into a community that challenges common narratives about what it means to be LGBTQ and Christian in the contemporary United States. Based on his participant-observation fieldwork with a faith-based organization called the Reformation Project, Jon Burrow-Branine provides an ethnography of how some LGBTQ and LGBTQ-supportive Christians negotiate identity and difference and work to create change in evangelicalism.

Come Now, Let Us Argue It Out tells the story of how this activism can be understood as a community of counter-conduct. Drawing on a concept proposed by the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, Burrow-Branine documents everyday moments of agency and resistance that have the potential to form new politics, ethics, and ways of being as individuals in this community navigate the exclusionary politics of mainstream evangelical institutions, culture, and theology.

More broadly, Burrow-Branine considers the community’s ongoing conversation about what it means to be LGBTQ and a Christian, grappling with the politics of inclusion and representation in LGBTQ evangelical activism itself.”