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A House of Prayer for All People

Contesting Citizenship in a Queer Church

2017

David K. Seitz

A House of Prayer for All People

Revealing the underappreciated progressive contributions of a liberal LGBT church

David K. Seitz maps the affective dimensions of the politics of citizenship at one large LGBT church, focusing on debates on race and gender in religious leadership, activism around police–minority relations, outreach to LGBT Christians transnationally, and advocacy for asylum seekers. Through cultural geography, queer of color critique, psychoanalysis, and affect theory, he stages reparative encounters with citizenship and religion.

Perhaps an unlikely subject for an ethnographic case study, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto in Canada is a large predominantly LGBT church with a robust, and at times fraught, history of advocacy. While the church is often riddled with fault lines and contradictions, its queer and faith-based emphasis on shared vulnerability leads it to engage in radical solidarity with asylum-seekers, pointing to the work of affect in radical, coalition politics.

A House of Prayer for All People maps the affective dimensions of the politics of citizenship at this church. For nearly three years, David K. Seitz regularly attended services at MCCT. He paid special attention to how community and citizenship are formed in a primarily queer Christian organization, focusing on four contemporary struggles: debates on race and gender in religious leadership, activism around police–minority relations, outreach to LGBT Christians transnationally, and advocacy for asylum seekers. Engaging in debates in cultural geography, queer of color critique, psychoanalysis, and affect theory, A House of Prayer for All People stages innovative, reparative encounters with citizenship and religion.

Building on queer theory’s rich history of “subjectless” critique, Seitz calls for an “improper” queer citizenship—one that refuses liberal identity politics or national territory as the ethical horizon for sympathy, solidarity, rights, redistribution, or intimacy. Improper queer citizenship, he suggests, depends not only on “good politics” but also on people’s capacity for empathy, integration, and repair.

A House of Prayer for All People

David K. Seitz is visiting scholar at the Centre for Feminist Research at York University.

A House of Prayer for All People

Contents
Introduction. Repairing Bad Objects: Improper Citizenship in Queer Church
1. Too Diverse? Race, Gender, and Affect in Church
2. Pastor–Diva–Citizen: Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes, Homonormative Melancholia, and the Limits of Celebrity
3. “Why Are You Doing This?” Desiring Queer Global Citizenship
4. From Identity to Precarity: Asylum, State Violence, and Alternative Horizons for Improper Citizenship
Conclusion: Loving an Unfinished World
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index