It was my last interview for the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project. I was a senior in college, and I was about to complete my tenth interview focused on the intersections of Christian religion and queer identity. I was slated to conduct an oral history interview with Rachel Replogle, a nonbinary lesbian who runs Indiana’s only queer-affirming wedding videography business. I had expected to explore elements of her work in churches and religious spaces—and I had encountered experiences of trauma, both familial and religious, through the project—but Replogle’s story touched a nerve about my own experiences and made my question the project’s impact on the people conducting it.
Since 2018, the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project has been collecting the stories of queer people who grew up in and around Muncie. I worked with the project for over a year as a research associate, conducting ten long-form oral history interviews with members of the Muncie LGBTQ+ community about their experiences growing up in Muncie, a small town in East-Central Indiana in the heart of the Rust Belt. Spearheaded by Dr. Emily Johnson  the project seeks to uplift and celebrate queer experience in the Midwest. I entered the project with an interest in how queer individuals engage with religious identity, especially in spaces that deny their personhood and/or invalidate their relationships.Continue reading ““For I know the plans I have for you:” The coming out story of a queer Catholic raised in the Purity Culture Movement part 1 by Emma Cieslik”