The National Endowment for the Humanities is spending $25,200 to study the experiences of black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members of Pentecostal churches.
A college professor in Iowa working on a book on predominately LGBT churches received funding from the grants announced this week.
The project is entitled "Traditional Spiritual Practices and the LGBT Community in a Black Pentecostal Church Coalition Project."
The project will involve an "ethnographic study on the experiences of black LGBT Pentecostals who belong to the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries," according to the grant’s description.
Ellen Lewin, whose research interests at the University of Iowa include feminist anthropology, lesbian and gay anthropology, and gender, sexuality, and reproduction, received the funding.
"Over the course of her career, she has completed studies that focus on low-income Latina immigrants in San Francisco, lesbian mothers, lesbian and gay commitment ceremonies in the US, and gay fathers," according to her university website.
Lewin’s work for the National Endowment for the Humanities is for an upcoming book on how a person can be spiritual while keeping with their gender identity.
"Her current research focuses on a coalition of predominantly LGBT, African American, Pentecostal churches," the website said. "In her forthcoming book, Filled With the Spirit, she examines how church congregants and leaders achieve spiritual transformation while also reaffirming their individual identities and their bonds with a larger racial community and history."
Research will be conducted on members of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, an affiliation of churches across the country.
The Fellowship’s website is RadicallyInclusive.com, and they say they are a "trans-denominational fellowship."
"Our mission is to become a catalytic resource agent for the unity and support of churches and ministries who desire to celebrate and proclaim the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ," according to the website. "Our key concern is that every member be provided with the necessary tools to mature the individual call and the vision of inclusivity as understood by each member."
The Fellowship sent "An Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Sexual and Gender Diversity" back in 2008.
"As religious leaders, we affirm sexual and gender diversity as gifts people offer to their congregations and communities," they said. "We urgently call for faith-based approaches that embrace this diversity and advocate justice."
The letter called for churches to "publicly advocate for the civil rights of LGBT persons, including anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and access to health care."
The study of black LGBT churchgoers is not the only project focusing on the LGBT community funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities this year.
The Ohio Historical Society received $12,000 to digitize letters, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks to "deepen the historical record documenting Ohio's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community."
The Gerber Hart Library and Archives in Chicago received $5,860 to preserve writings, photographs, and films from LGBT activists, writers, teachers, doctors, and politicians.
Part of $11,719 to the University of Central Florida will go towards digitizing works from Orlando's LGBT community.
Finally, Princeton University received $50,400 for a "book-length study on the employment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual people in the U.S.'s late 20th-century work force."