Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Levy, Michele Dr.


The dominant beliefs of a society determine what it finds acceptable and socially constructed theories generally valorize only heterosexism. Thus, global society has viewed homosexuality as a repudiation of the norm—an aberration, a disease, or a “lifestyle”—all of which carry negative social connotations. While this particularly characterizes churches within the African American community, identical issues occur within other denominations of Christianity. This study will explore literary texts that display how the Christian church, more specifically the Baptist and Pentecostal denominations, obstruct homosexuals' identity by implementing a limited, rigid morality that rejects all who do not fit within its code, a dynamic that impedes the individual's search for authenticity (here taken to mean one's full being). After first examining the general beliefs of the church, with a particular emphasis on the black church, I will then juxtapose the semi-autobiographical texts of Randall Kenan and Jeanette Winterson, A Visitation of Spirits and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. For Kenan, an African-American gay male, and Winterson, a White British lesbian, personalize complex societal issues while explicitly describing their protagonists’ journey towards an authentic life.