AAR SBL rainbow flag
Dozens of LGBTQ events are planned for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Nov. 18-21 in Boston, Massachusetts. Here is a guide to the highlights.

Scholars will cover everything from queering Martin Luther and homoerotic intimacy in John’s gospel to “fashion choices of gender non-conforming black folk in the pulpit” and an astonishing assortment of other LGBTQ topics. The joint annual meeting is the largest gathering of biblical and religion scholars in the world with some 10,000 attendees.

Books that are up for major LGBTQ discussion this year include:

Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights” by Heather White

Black Pentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility” by Ashon Crawley

Conference-goers will discuss liberating new ideas about the Bible, the church, sexual ethics and the impact of Christianity on individuals. Scholars will also take a queer look at every major world religion from various racial, ethnic and cultural perspectives.

There is so much LGBTQ content at AAR/SBL in 2017 that I gave up trying to make a complete list. This is not a comprehensive listing, but a guide to highlights with an emphasis on Christianity.

Paradoxically LGBTQ content is both more common and harder to find this year because now it is integrated with other topics and no longer always clearly labeled. In addition, terminology continues to expand, with new phrases such as “gender instability” and “differently gendered” replacing more familiar terms.

Reading the schedule provides a sneak-preview of the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer religious scholarship, even for those who can’t be there.

It’s possible to do LGBTQ religious events almost non-stop for five days. Sometimes multiple events even overlap.

Best wishes to the many friends of Q Spirit and Jesus in Love who will be attending, presiding and presenting at AAR-SBL!

Note: Session numbers begin with “A” for AAR, “S” for SBL and “M” for additional meetings. These events are subject to change.

Sat., Nov. 18, 2017

A18 – 121 / S18-134LGBTI:  Author Meets Critics: The Relevance of Lee Edelman’s Work for the Study of Religion, Theology, and Sacred Texts
9:00 AM-11:30 AM
Scholars discuss the impact of influential queer theorist Lee Edelman on theology, religion and Bible studies. Three books by Edelman will be considered: “No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive,” “Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory” and “Transmemberment of Song: Hart Crane’s Anatomies of Rhetoric and Desire.”
Brandy Daniels, Vanderbilt University, Presiding
Kent Brintnall, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, co-editor of “Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies
Rhiannon Graybill, Rhodes College
Jacqueline Hidalgo, Williams College
Justin Crisp, Yale University
Erin Runions, Pomona College
Linn Tonstad, Yale University, author of  “God and Difference: The Trinity, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Finitude
Lee Edelman, Tufts University
Joseph Marchal, Ball State University, co-editor of “Sexual Disorientations: Queer Temporalities, Affects, Theologies”, Presiding

A18 – 142: Theme: Rethinking Resistance and Resilience
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Robert Drake, Princeton Theological Seminary
David Smith, Princeton Theological Seminary
“Reinhold Niebuhr and the Queer Ethic of Pride”

A18 – 201: Equal Protection of the Law? Religious Freedom and LGBTIQ Lives
1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Roger A. Sneed, Furman University, Presiding
Finbarr Curtis, Georgia Southern University
Keri Day, Princeton Theological Seminary
Janet R. Jakobsen, Barnard College
Ann Pellegrini, New York University
Alex McNeill, More Light Presbyterians, Minnetonka, MN

S18-324LGBTI: Queer Hermeneutics
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Laurel Koepf Taylor, Eden Theological Seminary, Presiding
Jared Beverly, Chicago Theological Seminary
Qoheleth’s Queer Negativity
Dong Sung Kim, Drew University
Queering the King’s Wisdom: Queer Temporality and Solomon’s (A)Sexuality
Teresa J. Hornsby, Drury University, author of “Transgender, Intersex, and Biblical Interpretation
Queerer Things: Lee Edelman’s No Future and the Queer Death of Eleven
James N. Hoke, Luther College
Homo Urbanus or Urban Homos? Philo, the Therapeuts, and Queer Space
Peter Anthony Mena, University of San Diego
Cruising the Desert: Queer Collectives and Christian Futurity

S18-339: Accusations of Deception and Incompetence
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Includes Amy Clanfield, University of Ottawa
Cheers, Fears, and (Lying?) Queers: A Critical Reading of the Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

A18 – 301: Plenary session: Protecting the Vulnerable on Campus
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Needs and strategies of LGBTQ+ people on campus will be included.
Includes Cameron Partridge, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church,
San Francisco

A18 – 313: Book Panel with Heather White, “Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Marco Derks, Utrecht University, Presiding
Scholars discuss “Reforming Sodom” by Heather White. The book challenges the assumed secular narrative of the LGBT rights movement by recovering lost history of liberal Protestant on both sides of the debate.  It was one of the Top 25 LGBTQ Christian Books of 2015.
Brett Krutzsch, Haverford College
David Bos, University of Amsterdam
William Boyce, University of Virginia
Heather White, University of Puget Sound

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A19 – 120: The Lesbian as a Space for Revolution in Communities, Organizations and Politics
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Amy Milligan, Old Dominion University, Presiding
Laulie Eckeberger, University of Winchester
Andrea Glass, Pennsylvania State University
Anjeanette LeBoeuf, Claremont Graduate University
Michelle Wolff, Duke University

A19 – 125: Conflict and Creativity: The Reimagining of Urban Space
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Heather White, University of Puget Sound, author of “Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights
“This Disco Used to Be a Cute Cathedral”: Queer Genealogies of Secularism at the Limelight Nightclub

A19 – 225: Author Meets Critics: A Discussion of Ashon Crawley’s “Black Pentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Scholars discuss “Black Pentecostal Breath,” an innovative interdisciplinary book that brings together queer theology, black studies, womanist theory and performance studies to examine alternative or “otherwise” ways of being. For example, Blackpentecostal music and worship styles create an aesthetics that makes it possible to resist and critique of normative, repressive culture. It was one of the Top 35 LGBTQ Christian Books of 2016.
Thelathia Young, Bucknell University, author of “Black Queer Ethics, Family, and Philosophical Imagination,” Presiding
Ashon Crawley, University of California, Riverside
Biko Gray, Syracuse University Department of Religion
Keri Day, Princeton Theological Seminary
Judith Casselberry, Bowdoin College

A19 – 321: Queer Gathering: Engaging the Intersections Between Religion, Bodies, and Sexualities
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, Methodist Theological School, Ohio, Presiding
Adriaan van Klinken, University of Leeds
Lai-Shan Yip, Graduate Theological Union
Gilbert Chen, Washington University, St. Louis
Stephanie Budwey, Kirchliche Hochschule, Wuppertal

Monday, November 20, 2017

A20 – 102: Toilet Justice: Peeing and the Politics of Marginalized Bodies
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Bathroom access and contemporary political debates over trans toilet activism will be highlighted.
Julia Watts Belser, Georgetown University, Presiding
Neomi De Anda, University of Dayton
Leo Guardado, University of Notre Dame
Preston Parsons, University of Cambridge
Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College
Santiago H. Slabodsky, Hofstra University
Max Strassfeld, University of Arizona
Max Thornton, Drew University
Shani Tzoref, University of Potsdam

S20-103: Experimental Methods, New Meanings, and New Voices
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Eric A. Thomas, Drew University
On the PULSE of Mo(u)rning: Reading Hebrews 11:29-12:2 Between Orlando and Charleston

A20 – 210: Spinning Survival with the Word and Methodolatry: Reflections and Critiques on the Legacy of Mary Daly
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
This discussion of lesbian feminist philosopher coincides with the publication of “The Mary Daly Reader,” edited by Jennifer Rycenga and Linda Barufaldi. The book contains highlights from Daly’s books and articles over a 40-year period, including “Beyond God the Father,” with new introductions that put her work in context.
Marie Cartier, California State University, Northridge, author of “Baby, You are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall,” Presiding
Zachary Settle, Vanderbilt University
Sheila Briggs, University of Southern California
Katy Guillen, University of Houston, Downtown
Jennifer Rycenga, San Jose State University
Linda Barufaldi, San Diego, CA

S20-216: Gender, Sexuality, and the Bible
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Abby Kulisz, Indiana University (Bloomington)
(Trans)gressing Temporality: Queer Formations in the Life of Saint Pelagia of Antioch

A20 – 216: Protest and Accommodation: Latinx Responses to the Protestant Reformations
1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
This round-table discussion includes consideration of an ethic of “indecent queer grace.”

A20-228: The Felt Life of Vulnerability
Monday – 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Includes Jonathan Burrow-Branine, University of Kansas,
“Affect and Vulnerability in LGBT Social Justice Work in Evangelicalism”
(study of The Reformation Project)

A20 – 323: New Research in Queer Religious Studies
4:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Jared Vazquez, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding
Andrea Allen, Western University, Canada
“A House of Prayer for All People”: LGBT Evangelicals in Brazil
Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Princeton University
Sacred Dissent: For Queers’ Sake and on Queer Stakes in Black Religious Studies
Jennifer Buck, Azusa Pacific University
Bad and Boujee — Towards a Trap Feminist Theology
Joshua Warfield, Graduate Theological Union
Resistance and the Freedom to Live Authentically: Queering Martin Luther’s View of Vocation
Michelle Mueller, Santa Clara University
Sisterhood, Patriarchy, and “Bromance”: Gender Norms in Reality TV Polygamy/Polyamory

A20 – 324: Constructive Approaches to Religion and Ecology
3:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Matthew Eaton, St. John’s University
Of Religious Ecologies and Their “Queer Little Gods”: On the Way to an Animist Trinitarianism

Jacob Erickson, Trinity College Dublin
Promiscuous Vines: On the Queer Emergence of a Theological Botany

S20-306: Gender Instability in Biblical Art
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Christine Joynes, University of Oxford, Presiding
Ela Nutu, University of Sheffield
John the Baptist as L’Homme Fatale? Artistic Interpretations of a Biblical Narrative
Peter French, The University of Melbourne
A female Christ crucified: scandal for some or savior of all?
Jeff Jay, University of Chicago
Two to a Couch: Visualizing Homoerotic Intimacy in John 13:23–25 and 21:20 in Light of Ancient Art
Volker Kuester, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Intercultural Gender Trouble and Queer Bodies in Christian Art from Africa and Asia
Yohana Junker, Graduate Theological Union
The Painted Bathsheba: Unsettling the Gaze

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A21 – 118: Sartorial Transgressions: Reflections on Fashion, Religion, and Resistance
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Thelathia Young, Bucknell University, Presiding
Benae Beamon, Boston University
Fashioning the Subject: Black Queerness, Identity, and an Ethic of Honor

Whitney Bond, Chicago Theological Seminary
You Gone Wear That?! Fashion, Self-Expression, and Resistance for Queer Black Women and Gender Non-conforming Black Folk in the Pulpit

A21 -131: Differently Gendered Esotericisms: Modern Esoteric Negotiations of Gender Polarity
10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Cathy N. Gutierrez, New York, NY, Presiding
Erin Prophet, Rice University
Manon Hedenborg White, Uppsala University

Had enough? Enjoy some humor by playing “SBL-AAR Bingo,” courtesy of Facebook:

Readers asked if the AAR-SBL presentations available in any way to people who can’t attend?

The panels are usually not recorded or available in printed form, but abstracts of some papers may be online. Visit the AAR and SLB links below, go to the online program books and start searching. You can also try contacting the speakers directly.

For more info, visit:

American Academy of Religion

Society of Biblical Literature

Here’s another resource for those who want to follow the latest research and scholarship of various LGBTq theologians (and others).

See what happened in previous years:

2016 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

2015 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

2014 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

2012 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

2011 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

2010 LGBTQ guide to AAR and SBL Annual Meetings

Kittredge Cherry

Kittredge Cherry

Founder at Q Spirit
Kittredge Cherry is a lesbian Christian author who writes regularly about LGBTQ spirituality.She holds degrees in religion, journalism and art history.She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer, advocating for LGBTQ rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches.
Kittredge Cherry