Protestant urban ministry and the “homosexual ghetto” in the 1960s

Authored by: Heather R. White

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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During the 1960s, many mainline Protestant urban ministers in the United States found themselves at the doorsteps of a national trend, the visible emergence of so-called “homosexual ghettos.” This chapter tells about the activist involvement of a group of clergy serving churches within and adjacent to these neighborhood districts, whose response was to join and support the 1960s “homophile movement,” an early network of gay and lesbian organizations, by founding Councils on Religion and the Homosexual. These clergy activists challenged medical models of homosexual pathology, advocated “Christian concern” for gays and lesbians as victims of political injustice, and, in some places, officiated over same-sex wedding ceremonies. These clergy provided instrumental support for the early movement for LGBTQ rights and helped to lay the foundations for the later welcoming movement in Protestant denominations.

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