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NWO Open Competition for research on inclusive religion and identity: 'Impact on LGBTQIA+ community still underexplored'

What is the impact of religion and its discourse on the lives of queer people in countries where LGBTQIA+ individuals are not accepted? University Lecturer Eduardo Alves Vieira wants to know just that. With an NWO-grant, he will take a closer look at the inclusive religion movement in Brazil.

Religion plays an important role in the life of many around the world, and Brazil is no exception. The vast majority of the population in the country identifies as Christian, and most of Brazilian churches are not queer-friendly. ‘When it comes to gender and sexual diversity, there's a discourse of prejudice, bigotry, and hatred. For example, on television, Evangelical pastors speak openly about their LGBTQIA+ phobia, labeling gay men as pedophiles or possessed by the devil,’ explains Alves Vieira.  

Online sphere

So which religious services do LGBTQIA+ Christians attend? Supposedly, one of the most inclusive religious places is the Contemporary Christian Church of Brazil. The church's use of language differs from more mainstream religious denominations in the country. For instance, LGBTQIA+ individuals are not vilified because of their gender or sexuality. Although previous research has looked at the Brazilian inclusive religious movement, the impact it has on LGBTQIA+ people's identity is still underexplored.

The church also has a large online following as they stream their religious services on social media platforms such as YouTube. ‘The church's followers watch the videos of the pastors preaching and then comment on them,’ says Alves Vieira. This allows him to research a group of people on the other side of the world from his office in the Netherlands. There's also another reason why he chose to research the online sphere. ‘Given religion is a sensitive topic to study in offline life, conducting such research in the digital space will facilitate things.' 

Amplify voices

By studying the online presence of the Contemporary Christian Church and its followers, Alves Vieira wants to contribute to the expanding literature on queer linguistics in the Global South. ‘My main goal is to amplify the voices of religious LGBTQIA+ people. Religion influences the lives of many people around the world – in good and bad ways,’ he says. ‘I want to help change the bad perception of LGBTQIA+ individuals in religion.’

With his research, he also hopes to shine a light on a new perspective within queer linguistics. As of right now, most of the knowledge in the field is focused on Anglophone communities. ‘There's a huge gap in the field concerning non-anglophone communities, especially those from the Global South. I want to help close it,’ he says. 

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