Spiritual dimensions of self-transformation in Sydney's gay bathhouses

Publisher:
Taylor and Francis Group
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Homosexuality, 2010, 57 (1), pp. 71 - 97
Issue Date:
2010-01
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Interview-based research among patrons and proprietors of Sydney's gay bathhouses, asking about experiences of homosexual being from the 1960s to the early 1980s generated intriguing findings. Despite the apparent disconnect between traditional religious affiliation and the outlaw gay lifestyle of the bathhouses, a majority of interviewees asserted that spirituality and self-transformation was as important to them as sexual exploration and liberation from societal restraints (both as motivations for and outcomes of the bathhouse experience). Some of those interviewed adhered to mainstream religion (including Christianity and Judaism), but a significant number expressed a commitment to eclectic, personalized spiritual paths. Interestingly, both groups described the bathhouses as churches and temples, the activities that took place there as both collective and individual rituals, and attributed their spiritual growth and development to their experiences in the bathhouses.
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