Disruptive or merely alternative? A case study of a South African gay church.
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The main aim of this article is to engage with how a South African church through its discursive practices, continues to live out the conviction set out in Germond and de Gruchy's 1997 book "Aliens in the Household of God" that homosexuals are indeed not aliens in the household of God. The first part of the article briefly overviews the legal construction of homosexuality in South Africa during the 20th century and challenges the claim that homosexuality is "un-African". The latter positioning will foreground our case study of the South African Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church (GHMCC), which has its origins abroad and is attended by gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (LBGT) congregants. The study provides a discursive analysis of the online written materials of GHMCC and the dominant discourses which emerged out of this analysis were: Liberation and equality discourse; Discourse of natural and normal: disrupting gender?; Discourse challenging conservative Christian hegemony; Discourse of heteropatriarchal Christian sex; Missing feminist discourses: tensions and silences; and Discourse of religious colonialism. Silent and less dominant discourses regarding race, gender and homophobia in relation to identity and religion are explored and interpreted within a feminist social constructionist paradigm. Concluding remarks talk to further research and to the danger of the (GHMCC) continued silence on issues such as poverty, racism and sexism within South African society.