Project Director

Guo, Zibin

Department Examiner

Workinger, Andrew


Dept. of Sociology, Anthropology, and Geography


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The intersection of religion, legalism, institutionalism, and sexuality is historically one of controversy. Consequential discord often leads to the marginalization of certain members of a community, which creates lasting psychological and social effects that shape how these individuals define themselves within their culture. This study identifies shared experiences between two groups of non-heterosexual adult males near Coleraine, Northern Ireland, where same-sex marriage is illegal, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the practice is federally accepted. The samples provide a look into the effects of religiously-motivated, discriminatory legislation on the personal lives of the subsequent population. Specifically, participants are asked to reflect on the roles of religion and sexuality in shaping their character to determine whether or not the legalization of same-sex marriage (or lack thereof) affects their lives. Respondents report mostly positive experiences in both communities and few recall instances of direct abuse, whether verbal or physical. Religious practices are more common among respondents from Northern Ireland, who also tend to mention slightly more negative interactions and feelings. Marriage continues to be important to most participants, regardless of religious affiliation or location. Overall, the lack of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation seems to contribute to a more positive experience for those potentially affected, however difficulties persist. Participants remain concerned about bureaucratic and legal protections, including the right to a same-sex divorce in Tennessee and the ability to marry in Northern Ireland, as well as social acceptance and education on sexuality.


I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Dr. Zibin Guo, for guiding me throughout this process, along with my department examiner Dr. Andrew Workinger. Greg O'Dea and Linda Frost of the UTC Brock Scholars Program and Honors College have been vital in the completion of this project. I wouldn't have been able to complete this study without the help of the ten participants, along with those that helped me reach out to them.


B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.




Same-sex marriage -- Tennessee; Same-sex marriage -- Northern Ireland


Sexuality; Religion; Legalism; Institutionalism; Same-sex marriage



Document Type



72 leaves




Under copyright.


Included in

Anthropology Commons