This article foregrounds the complex self-making of Black Jamaican women living with HIV to explore the political and religious significance of their queer intimacies. Jolly argues that women's embodied pleasures and spiritual consciousness present a form of divine intimacy that exposes the complex relationship between queer studies, Black religious thought, and the sexual desires of Black queers in general, and Black queer women in particular. Furthermore, she asserts that the embodied knowledge of queer HIV-positive Black Caribbean women shifts the geography of reason around female sexuality and Blackness in studies of queerness and religion. This article considers how lived experiences of religion play a central role in the construction of personhood and how Black queer women's spirituality requires resisting denominational assumptions and distinctions between the sacred and secular that have no salience in their interpretations of everyday life. HIV-positive Jamaican women have revealed the ways women's spirituality thrives outside the dichotomy of “indecent” subject and “redeemed” victim and beyond the grips of institutionalized sexism, misogynoir, and homophobia within and beyond the church.
Divine Intimacies: Tracing Gender, Sexuality, and Queerness in HIV-Positive Jamaican Women's Religious Experience
Jallicia Jolly is an assistant professor in American studies and Black studies at Amherst College. A 2022 Ford Postdoctoral Fellow based at Yale University, Jolly researches and teaches on Black women's health, grassroots activism, reproductive justice, and feminist social movements; the transnational politics of gender, structural racism, sexuality, class, and health in the United States and Caribbean; and intersectionality, HIV/AIDS, and Black queer diaspora studies. Jolly's first book manuscript, Ill Erotics: Black Caribbean Women and Self-Making in the Time of HIV/AIDS, is forthcoming. Jolly connects her research to tailored community interventions that advance equity, systemic change, and community building within and beyond US borders. She is a visiting research faculty at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at the Yale School of Public Health to the Research Education Institute for Diverse Scholars.
Jallicia Jolly; Divine Intimacies: Tracing Gender, Sexuality, and Queerness in HIV-Positive Jamaican Women's Religious Experience. GLQ 1 January 2024; 30 (1): 31–57. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10642684-10920624
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