Faculty Research at Morehead State University


1CROSS + 3NAILS = 4GVN: Compulsory Christianity and Homosexuality in the Bible Belt Panopticon

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


While some areas of the United States have made progress in securing rights for gay people, Bible Belt states lag behind. Not only do these states lack domestic-partner benefits, but also lesbians and gay men can still be fired from places of employment in many regions of the Bible Belt for being a homosexual. The article argues that regional social mores for small-town life, rules that govern southern manners, and expectations of submission to Christian institutions function as a "Bible Belt panopticon" to perpetuate both passive and active homophobia. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and excerpts from in-depth audiotaped interviews with lesbians and gay men from the region, the article explores the intersections among religiosity, region, and sexual identity to theorize how the Bible Belt panopticon operates to create an environment of compulsory Christianity.