Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 48, November 2022

Emotions towards God of Select LGBTQs in the Philippines and the Experience of Shame

Michael Sepidoza Campos, Clarence Darro del Castillo, Gregory Ching and Fides del Castillo


In a recent study by Jacob Poushter and Nicholas Kent, increased economic development along with shifts in religious and political attitudes have increased the acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and non-binary people (LGBTQs).[1] In the Philippines, where almost 80 per cent of the population is affiliated with the Roman Catholic religion, 73 per cent of Filipinos believe that homosexuality should be accepted.[2] Despite such developments, however, individuals who identify as LGBTQ continue to endure harassment and discrimination.[3] Stigma and the denial of civil rights and legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity contribute to mental disorders.[4] LGBTQs who suffer biased-based bullying (i.e., bullying or victimisation due to one's perceived or actual identities) report higher levels of depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, substance use, and truancy.[5] As a result, LGBTQs are prone to experience depressive symptoms at a rate of 1.5 times higher than the general population.[6] Moreover, LGBTQ young adults are over five times more likely to self-harm than their non-LGBTQ peers.[7] And gay men are 4.7 times more likely to experience panic disorders while lesbian and bisexual women experience anxiety at a rate three times higher than straight women.[8]

There is much evidence that correlates the role of religion with a person's health and wellbeing. Koenig reports that individuals who are more involved in religious activities or describe religion as very important in their lives are less likely to become depressed over time.[9] While religiosity is associated with positive mental health among the general population, the impact of religious affiliation on the mental health of LGBTQs remains inconclusive.[10] Karl Kralovec, Clemens Fartacek, Reinhold Fartacek and Martin Plöderl, observe that religion may be both a risk and protective factor against suicide among religiously affiliated sexual minorities.[11] Guy Shilo and Riki Savaya show an association between low religiosity and equally low levels of family and friends' support. 1 David M. Barnes and Ilan H. Meyer further assert that 'non--affirming religions' are linked to greater levels of internalised homophobia.[12] Non-affirming religions who are unfavourable of LGBTQs tend to be proscriptive against sexual minorities, condemn same-sex behaviour, bar LGBTQs from leadership, and refuse to recognise same-sex unions.

High levels of internalised homophobia highlight the mental vulnerability of sexual minorities in the religious sector.[13] Investigating the challenges and problems faced by some LGBTQ students in the Philippines, Xijia Tang and Ak Narayan Poudel report that non-affirming religions affect the well-being of select Filipino LGBTQ students.[14] Concerning emotions towards God, Patty Van Cappellen, Maria Toth-Gauthier, Vassilis Saroglou and Barbara L. Fredrickson assert that 'positive emotions, particularly the self-transcendent positive emotions of awe, gratitude, love, and peace that are especially valued within religious and spiritual contexts, partly explain why religion and spirituality are beneficial for people's psychological well-being.'[15]

Prospective studies further indicate that religion and spirituality may buffer against anxiety symptoms.[16] Such findings resonate with many Filipino Christians who trust in God to assuage fear and anxiety.[17] Many older Filipino Christians claim that faith serves as a source of strength and a protective buffer against stress and suffering. Moreover, during difficult times, Filipino Catholic youths seek God's love and care and look for a stronger connection with God.[18]

Building on a previous study highlighting the role of religiosity among select LGBTQs in the Philippines,[19] this essay will explore the breadth of emotions that Filipino LGBTQs associate between religious sensibility and personal well-being. While collected data include positive and negative emotions, shame emerges as a significant qualifier of religiosity among cohort participants. For this reason, this paper will highlight shame within the framework of Stefan Huber and Matthias Richard's inventory of 'emotions towards God' alongside studies on shame, 'coming out,'[20] and the subject formation of LGBTQ individuals.[21] Because shame functions as a distinguishing emotion among respondents' sense of individual religiosity, the study hopes to expand existing literature on shame and internalised homophobia through quantitative data specific to select Filipino LGBTQs. Reflecting on this demography, the paper explores the correlation of shame with hiya as a culturally specific mechanism in the formation of Filipino subjectivity.

Some evidence on the salience of religion among LGBTQs

The Roman Catholic Church is considered the primary moral authority in the Philippines.[22] The Church recognises 'heterosexuality as normative while respecting the personhood of those with homosexual tendencies.'[23] Arvin Joaquin argues that 'in its articulation of homosexuality, the [Roman] Catholic Church uses discourses that are consistent with the teachings … about love and acceptance. [However,] the church also employs discourses of sinfulness and homosexuality as immoral.'[24] As such, there are some Catholic LGBTQs who 'confront and live their sexuality in a way that is involved and shaped by the Roman Catholic Church's norms.'[25]

Despite the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, some churches cater to the spiritual needs of Filipino LGBTQs. Some of these are the Metropolitan Christian Church, The Order of St. Aelred, LGBTS Christian Church, and Ekklesia Tou Theou (Church of God). Other mainline Protestant churches, such as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the United Church of Christ Philippines, tend to be LGBTQ-accepting.[26] They serve an essential purpose in mitigating homophobia that alienates many LGBTQs from churches. When congregations take an 'open and affirming' posture, they offer refuge for LGBTQs to express their spirituality and experience emotional healing.[27] Also, despite the lack of legal recognition, some same-sex couples affirm their relationships through the 'Rite of Holy Union' or similar forms of the wedding ritual.[28] By sanctifying their relationships, same-sex couples significantly invest in a partnership, emotional intimacy toward one's partner, and relationship satisfaction.

Exploring emotions in the context of religion among select LGBTQs

Many people believe that they have a two-way, relationally engaged bond with God.[29] For some highly religious[30] Filipino LGTBQs, commitment to God is powerful enough to influence subjective experience and behaviour.[31] The researchers find this intriguing since the informants are socially vulnerable and affiliated with non-affirming religions. For some LGBTQs, talking with God, thanking God, hoping to experience God, building a relationship with God, and inviting God to share their joy and sorrows take on distinctly personal turns, usurping the place of institutional worship. These led the researchers to inquire, 'What are the feelings of select highly religious and religious Filipino LGBTQs towards God?' More importantly, 'What are the implications of a dominant negative emotion among Filipino LGBTQs towards the divine for coming out and the subject formation of non-normative individuals?'

Measuring emotions towards God

As Huber and Richard explain, 'Emotions towards God are expressions of religious experiences and emerge in situations interpreted with God or a higher supernatural power.'[32] There are existing instruments that measure the dimensional structure of a person's emotional relationship with God. The God Image Inventory (GII) for example, utilises an 8-scale, 156-item psychometric instrument to measure one's image of God. Richard Lawrence postulates control, belonging, and fundamental goodness as the three basic dimensions of the structure of the God-image.[33] While Huber and Richard acknowledge the utility of GII's attachment theory to explain one's emotions to God, the GII 'is more likely to measure cognitive attitudes instead of emotions.'[34] Alternatively, Kay Petersen's 24-item questionnaire[35] and Sebastian Murken's 27-item questionnaire[36] list possible emotions a person may have towards God.[37] For Huber and Richard, Petersen's and Murken's instruments offer a 'plausible distinction between positive and negative religious emotions that correspond to the basic dimension of psychological valence.'[38]

Building on Petersen and Murken, Huber and Richard formulated the Emotions Towards God Inventory (EtG) to measure focused positive and negative emotions. The EtG 'covers a representative variety of psychologically and theologically relevant emotions towards God' that distinguishes positive and negative emotions into components relevant to religious life.[39] It is at this intersection of emotional and psychological valences that we suggest the likelihood of individuals who see their actions as sinful associate negative emotions in their relationship with God.

Research problem and hypotheses

Given that most Filipinos adhere to an institutional religion the Philippines is an important locus of inquiry on the relationship between religion, sexuality and emotions.[40] Currently, there are quantitative studies on the religious profile and salience of religion among select Filipinos.[41] However, there is a lack of resources that translate the emotions toward God of select Filipino LGBTQs into material data.

Huber and Richard assert that emotions are deeply rooted and have a strong connection to physiological processes that shape religious practice. Indeed, 'religious experiences (and the corresponding religious emotions towards God) have a more profound impact on psychological makeup than religious beliefs.'[42] Also, individuals who believe in God's existence are more likely to experience positive and negative emotions toward the divine. By delineating the emotion towards God of select Filipino LGBTQs, this study addresses the question, 'What is the dominant emotion towards God of select LGBTQs?'

To the best of our knowledge, there are no studies on the emotions towards God among LGBTQs in the Philippines. The researchers hope to bridge this gap and contribute to the literature on the connections between religion, emotion and health. In this, the researchers hypothesise that among select participants:

    Hypothesis 1: 'Highly religious' and 'religious' Filipino LGBTQs tend to experience positive emotions towards God compared to those who are 'non-religious.'[43]

    Hypothesis 2: 'Highly religious' Filipino LGBTQs affiliated with non-affirming religions tend to experience negative emotions towards God.

    Hypothesis 3: Filipino LGBTQs who wield a negative feeling toward the divine as a defining emotion expose some correlation between sexual orientation and religiosity.

Participants and procedure

The procedure and participants are the same as described in Fides del Castillo, Clarence Darro del Castillo, Gregory Ching and Michael Sepidoza Campos .[44] This is a continuation of the ongoing research on the centrality of religiosity vis-à-vis emotions towards God. Using Qualtrics survey software, the data were collected from November 2020 to December 2020. Snowball sampling was applied. The respondents answered the survey form online. The study is aligned with ethical principles and obtained informed consent from the research participants. All data were treated with anonymity and confidentiality. The respondents answered the 16-item Inventory of Emotions towards God (EtG)[45] and the 20-item interreligious Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRSi).[46] As Huber and Huber point out, individuals who score 1.0 to 2.0 are not religious, 2.1 to 3.9 are religious, and 4.0 to 5.0 are highly religious.[47] A total of 89 Filipinos who identify as LGBTQs answered the EtG and the CRSi. However, after cleaning the data, only 59 respondents were included in the study.

Emotions Towards God

The full English version of the 16-item Inventory of Emotions Towards God (EtG) was used with permission of Stefan Huber. The EtG captures specific emotional tendencies a subject generally feels towards God. It consists of two orthogonal factors (positive and negative emotions) representing the psychological valence of different emotions towards God. Also, the factors comprise three inter-correlated dimensions that refer to specific emotional qualities and can be assigned to theological issues.[48] The EtG operationalises the intensity of emotions toward God according to the frequency of situations in which they are perceived. In the EtG:

    the instruction given to the respondent is a simple question: ‘How often do you experience situations where you feel the following emotions toward God?' Respondents rate the items on a 5-level scale of how often they feel each emotion in their relationship with God (levels: never sometimes, often, very often). The responses are summed and divided by 16, so scores range from 1 to 5; higher scores indicate a higher frequency of emotions.[49]

Centrality of religiosity scale

Huber and Huber proposed that religiosity can be measured in terms of intellect, ideology, public practice, private practice and experience. Items were collected using five, six, and eight levels of self-reported frequency ratings from never to very often, more than once a week, and several times a day. These were later recoded into five levels for consistency. Further information on CRS items, recoding, and evaluation can be found at Huber and Huber.[50]

A recent study on the religiosity of select Filipino LGBTQ by del Castillo, del Castillo, Campos and Ching affirmed the prominence of religion in a demographic group assumed to exist in 'tension between sex/gender identities and affiliation with religious institutions.' The quantitative data identified a 'general religiosity … particularly among older respondents' expressed specifically through 'ideology and private practice.'[51] A key outcome defined religious experience as a largely personal phenomenon. To the extent that growing secularism has long 'diminished [the] relevance of church institutions among youth respondents,' religious practices were relegated to the private sphere. Its public manifestation takes on the form of 'political action,' where transcendence is equated with imminent social concerns and transformation.

Data Analysis

The averages and distributions of EtG and CRSi were calculated. The Cronbach alpha reliability is calculated to establish the internal consistency of the instruments.[52] Group comparisons such as the independent samples t-test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were applied to determine the relationship between participants' religiosity levels and sexual orientations with the 16 emotions. Lastly, all the analyses were accomplished with the use of the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) software version 20 at loan from one of the researcher's institutions.[53]


There are 59 Filipino LGBTQ respondents whose ages range from 18 to 42 years old (average = 22 years old). In terms of location, most the respondents live in urban settings (92%). The participant's biological gender at birth is female (54%), male (44%), and not listed (2%). The participant's internal sense or gender identities were as follows: female (44%), male (41%), not listed (12%), and transgender (3%). Sexual orientations, describing emotional, physical, and sexual attractions, were categorised as bisexual (39%), gay (29%), lesbian (14%), not listed (15%), and queer (3%). The data shows that many the participants are Christians represented by the following denominations: Roman Catholic (53%), mainline Protestant (17%), Agnostics (9%), Spiritual (5%), Buddhist (5%), Evangelical Christian (3.5%), Jehovah's Witness (2%). Other affiliations indicated are Not listed (3%) and Atheist (2%).

Tables 1 and 2 show average values, including the distribution (skewness and kurtosis)[54] of the various EtG emotions and CRSi. The result indicates that the distribution (skewness and kurtosis values) is within the accepted ranges of +/- 2.0 for skewness and +/- 7.0 for kurtosis.[55] Also, the emotions of gratitude and hope both scored the highest at 3.71. In contrast, the emotion of rage stands lowest with 2.12. For the CRSi, the religiosity category of ideology stands highest with 4.16, while the category of public practice is lowest with 3.21. Overall, Cronbach's alpha reliability of EtG is computed at 0.94, while CRSi is computed at 0.93 both signifying a reliable instrument.

Table 1. Emotions towards God of select LGBTQs

Emotions towards God Average Skewness Kurtosis
Protection 3.56 –0.54 –0.68
Joy 3.56 –0.52 –0.52
Awe 3.58 –0.58 –0.55
Gratitude 3.71 –0.71 –0.29
Trust 3.66 –0.79 –0.20
Happiness 3.54 –0.57 –0.48
Reverence 3.36 –0.34 –0.78
Hope 3.71 –0.71 –0.56
Release 3.51 –0.61 –0.43
Fear 3.24 0.01 –0.92
Anxiety 2.69 0.25 –0.78
Failure 2.66 0.43 –0.87
Guilt 2.88 –0.01 –1.11
Shame 2.53 0.32 –0.94
Anger 2.73 0.79 –0.40
Rage 2.12 0.88 –0.04

Table 2. Religiosity levels of select LGBTQs

CRSi Average Skewness Kurtosis
Intellect[56] 3.41 –0.58
Ideology[57] 4.16 –0.31 –0.31
Public practice[58] 3.21 –0.04 –1.16
Private practice[59] 4.03 –1.25 1.219
Experience[60] 3.58 –0.53 –0.20
CRSi total 3.68 –0.71 0.09

For the group comparison between the different respondents' backgrounds, there are no notable differences that were found in the emotion of shame with regards to respondents' religious affinity, residence (urban or rural), and biological gender (male or female). Interestingly, however, ANOVA comparisons show significant differences between the respondents' sexual orientations (Lesbian = 8, Gay = 18, Bisexual = 23, Queer = 2, and not listed = 9) and the emotions of shame at p = 0.02 (p < 0.05) level for the five dimensions with F (4, 54) = 3.12. Cohen's effect size was computed at 0.49, denoting a small effect size.[61] This implies that among the sixteen emotions listed in the EtG, shame stands out as a qualifying emotion that defines the emotional experiences of LGBTQs towards God.

Group comparisons undertaken on the emotion of shame and CRSi levels (religious = 33 and highly religious = 23; note that 3 individuals are categorised as non-religious)[62] indicate that the levels of shame for highly religious (average = 3.22) respondents are significantly higher than among religious (average = 2.18) individuals with t =3.78 at p < 0.001. These denote that shame might be more apparent among more religious individuals.

Positive emotions, psychological valence and religious conduct of life

Overall results affirmed the dominance of gratitude and hope as key emotions among sample participants.[63] The results further revealed that LGBTQs between the ages of 30 and 42 years old tend to feel positive emotions such as protection, trust and hope. This aligns with the assertion of Robert Buenaventura, Jacqueline B. Ho and Maria Lapid that faith is an important resource for many older Filipinos.[64] Since religious beliefs promote mental health and social function,[65] it is possible that among select highly religious older LGBTQs, God remains an ideal attachment figure.

For Huber and Richard, 'the emotion of hope, in the context of religion, is related to the theological issue of providence.'[66] In the Christian worldview, God governs the world.[67] This becomes a point of contention when one's worth is not reflected in the practices and teachings of the institutions to which one belongs. Instead of suspending belief, however, David Fergusson suggests that moments of disjuncture can also deepen one's faith.[68] This may explain, in part, the co-existence of the emotions of gratitude and hope with that of shame among select 'highly religious' LGBTQs. This study focuses on shame because it has emerged as the primary emotional inclination of a select group of Filipino LGBTQ people towards God, even though other negative feelings were also mentioned by the respondents.

To the extent that LGBTQ respondents are mostly affiliated with non-affirming religions, however, shame emerges as a significant counterpoint to gratitude and hope. The desire to practice one's faith in a community that condemns same-sex behaviour adds a layer of stress and shame to predominantly positive emotions towards God. When Christian faith communities advise adherents to conform to a heteronormative lifestyle, many LGBTQ people experience shame, depression, anxiety, isolation and some even abandon their faith.[69]

Shame as an Emotion of Religious Significance

Given the results of this study, the researchers discern clear resonances with existing studies on shame, 'coming out,' and the subject formation of LGBTQ individuals. Shame—specifically its Tagalog equivalent, hiya—scaffolds the loób, the internal dimension of personhood codified by Virgilio Enríquez in the field of Sikolohiyang Pilipino[70] and José de Mesa in theology,[71] among others.

Shame and queer subjectivities: Genealogies and traces

Studies on shame, identity, and the subject formation of LGBTQs often begin in the fields of psychology and mental health.[72] Some emerge from contexts specific to LGBTQ youths and allies.[73] Scholars, theologians, and ministers have articulated theological and pastoral responses to shame, sexuality and the well-being of LGBTQs within religious institutions.[74] In critical studies, feminist, queer and psychoanalytic theories explore subjectivity alongside narratives of masculinization and 'coming out.'[75] However, fewer sources trace the parameters through which Filipino LGBTQ Catholic and/or religious youths inhabit shame as an emotion that defines their images of God.[76]

Interdisciplinary theological studies on shame draw from feminist theory, literary criticism and psychoanalytic theory to reveal discourses that normalise conceptions of God and their implications for subject formation. Virginia Burrus's Saving Shame,[77] for example, rehabilitates shame from the shadowed confines of Augustinian, neoplatonic repulsion of bodies and sex.[78] In this, Burrus echoes Judith Butler's subversion of phallogocentrism and its reduction of female bodies to 'troublesome' counterpoints to masculinity.[79] Indeed, Butler's Gender Trouble expands feminist theory into a larger critique of gender, encompassing masculinities and queer sexualities.[80] Her work intersects with Michel Foucault's genealogical interrogation of sex as inherently 'confessional'—condemned to taboo and the regulation of bodily regimes around sex and selfhood.[81] By attending to the ways gender constitutes a larger narrative of patriarchy, Butler provides a critical framework through which sexuality is reimagined as a cultural artifact, unmoored from essentialising discourses of sex and identity.

This shift in method and perspective opened ways for scholars and activists to reconsider the role of culture in codifying normative and non-normative sexualities. Among these, the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is foundational in its interrogation of the 'closet' as a trope on which LGBTQ subjectivities are constructed.[82] She suggests that one's negotiation of what is hidden with what is exposed serves as the fulcrum on which LGBTQs constitute queer identities. Within the dynamic of coming out, shame functions as a strategy through which queer subjects negotiate private and public identities. Shame—and its converse, pride—lends queer subjects a framework to both affirm and reject sexual and gender norms.[83]

Shame, hiya, and personhood

In the Philippine cultural universe, queerness—particularly among men—is conflated with femininity and female bodies.[84] This trope of a determinedly effeminate (and thus, presumably, gay) man implies the accompanying inversion of 'female queerness' as masculine, butch and dominant. There prevails an enduring heteronormativity that crucifies bodies and sexualities onto the masculine-feminine binary.

Tracing the place of women within Filipino patriarchy, Karen Enríquez identifies shame as a strategy through which subjectivities are gendered, or more specifically, feminised.[85] Drawing on the work of Mary John Mananzán, Virginia Fabella and José de Mesa, Enríquez rereads hiya (shame) as a mechanism of meaning-making. She examines the uncritical conflation of hiya with dangal (honour) in justifying the relegation of women to the domestic space; she critiques the principle of gender complementarity that undergirds John Paul II's 1988 Apostolic Letter on women, Mulieris Dignitatem.[86] For Enríquez, hiya—specifically embarrassment, shame and self-consciousness—is a potential strategy for transformation. More than a negative value, hiya evokes Foucault's 'confessional'—where naming what is silenced, shamed, or closeted unravels heteronormative systems that police gendered bodies. Hiya is the critical portal through which one approaches dangal—honour, dignity and self-acceptance.

Indeed, Agnes Brazal echoes hiya's liberative impulse that reorients its negative valuation. Her study of cyberviolence against women suggests that hiya functions as a corollary to 'saving face' in honor-based cultures. Rereading Emmanuel Levinas alongside Filipino notions of loób (essential self) and kapwa (other), Brazal unveils an ethical impulse to hiya that holds the self accountable to others. Affirming the process through which the self comes to agency within the context of community, Brazal reanimates women's potency to wield hiya as a strategy of resistance. Rather than passively submitting to normative gender roles, Filipinas subvert the (patriarchal) binary that imposes taboo, shame and silence to regulate bodies.[87]

It probably comes as no surprise that theologians such as Brazal and Enríquez locate hiya within a cultural space defined by Spanish-Catholic colonial tropes.[88] Shame and honour are deployed through religious narratives that ground the self on sin and redemption (echoes of hiya and dangal). For non-normative subjects—specifically LGBTQs—hiya imposes a regulatory mechanism through which subjectivities are constituted. While their valuation of hiya tends to be ambivalent, Enríquez and Brazal codify hiya as a core component in the construction of Filipino gendered selves. In this, both affirm existing literature on shame, identity and the religious experiences of LGBTQ lives.

In our study, highly religious respondents identify shame as a dominant negative emotion toward God.[89] Tobias Künkler, Tobias Faix and Marie Jäckel further argue that those who are highly religious may also experience guilt (and release and fear) towards God.[90] By focusing on the emotions of Filipino LGBTQs in the conversation, this paper expands on existing research on how religiosity correlates with feelings towards God.

Conclusion and outlook

As an initial effort to survey the religiosity of select Catholic LGBTQs, the study proposed several hypotheses that sought to correlate sexual orientation with levels of religiosity and emotions towards God. According to the quantitative data, individuals whose faith likely plays a central role in their lives have a higher tendency to express positive emotions—specifically hope and gratitude (Hypothesis 1). Conversely, data confirmed the association of negative emotions among LGBTQs affiliated with non-affirming religious traditions (Hypothesis 2).

The emergence of shame as an emotion specific to the religious experience of select LGBTQ Filipino youths invited a necessary consideration of shame beyond its valuation as a negative psychic-affective state. While the study's data affirmed shame as a defining emotion for select LGBTQs (Hypothesis 3), existing literature on 'coming out,' LGBTQ subjectivities, feminist and queer theories compelled the authors to critique Huber's and Richard's categorisation of shame as a negative emotion. Brazal's and Enríquez's re-reading of hiya and dangal subvert the positive-negative binary on which emotions are categorised and thus valuated. There is a far-reaching implication for this critique: if shame were left as a 'negative emotion,' LGBTQ experiences will continue to be defined by heteronormative social standards that may lead to further erasure.

While the data sample of this research is limited, the study's potential in bridging existing conversations on shame, gender and religiosity with the quotidian realities of queer lives is vast. This is of particular significance given the Philippine postcolonial condition. As shown in Sedgwick's analysis of the 'closet'—along with Enríquez's and Brazal's valuation of hiya as a deployment of agency—a presumably negative emotion might well expose a more complex negotiation with prevailing tropes around God, religious propriety, culture and colonial subjectivities. More than just a marker of a potential psychic breakdown, shame might well affirm non-heteronormative subjectivities.

Second, the study exposes the multilayered roles of religion in scaffolding the cultural spaces in which gendered subjects construct meaning. It is noteworthy to affirm that among our LGBTQ respondents, 'religiosity' functions as a deeply felt personal phenomenon. Perhaps this turn to the personal does not so much disavow institutional practices as displace negative emotions often associated with rigid views of orthodoxy and orthopraxis (Hypothesis 2).

The EtG is a short and simple instrument that captures important aspects of religious feelings towards God. Its use as a screening instrument can help identify the overall emotional response of an individual to religious experience. Moreover, religious emotions affect psychological makeup more deeply than religious beliefs, as emotions are more deeply rooted (e.g., they are linked to physiological processes) than beliefs.[91] The Filipino LGBTQs surveyed in this paper report gratitude, hope, and shame as dominant emotions in their relationship with God or higher supernatural power. Their positive emotions indicate that their religious practices bring them joy and comfort. Rather than mere counterpoints, however, negative emotions invite some reconsideration of their role in the constitution of queer identities.

As a platform for future research, the authors acknowledge the need to more intentionally nuance several identity assumptions of select informants, namely: religiosity, Filipino/culture, gender, age and emotions (hiya/shame). There are limitations to the study, and subsequent validation can be conducted. For the moment, however, this paper attempts to address the correlation between 'religiosity,' 'emotions,’ and the formation of queer subjectivities in the Philippine postcolonial context. Given extensive studies on the subject formation of queer bodies and selves, any engagement with the interior dimensions of queer lives requires a critical rereading of existing identity categories and their complicity to patriarchal and heteronormative standards.


Items of the inventory of emotions towards God

The Emotions Towards God Inventory (Huber and Richard 2010) covers a representative variety of psychologically and theologically relevant emotions towards God that distinguish positive and negative emotions into components relevant to religious life.

In sum, we measured emotions towards God with the following items using a 5-stage response format (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = often, 5 = very much).

How often do you experience:

    1. protection by God?
    2. joy towards God?
    3. awe towards God?
    4. gratitude towards God?
    5. trust towards God?
    6. happiness towards God?
    7. reverence towards God?
    8. hope towards God?
    9. release from guilt towards God?
    10. fear (scare) towards God?
    11. anxiety towards God?
    12. failure towards God?
    13. guilt towards God?
    14. shame towards God?
    15. anger towards God?
    16. rage towards God?

Centrality of religiosity scale interreligious (CRSi)

Centrality of Religiosity Scale Interreligious (CRSi) versions 7, 14, and 20 (Huber and Huber 2012). CRSi has five subscales: intellectual, ideology, public practice, private practice, and religious experience. The CRSi uses a 5-point frequency (very often, often, occasionally, rarely, and never) and intensity (very much so, quite a bit, moderately, not very much, and not at all) response scale (Huber and Huber 2012, p. 716). CRSi-7, 14, and 20 subscales, sample items, and the number of items per subscale are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. CRSi-7, CRSi-14, & CRSi-20 subscales and sample items

CRSi versions and subscales Sample items no. of items
CRSi 7
Intellectual How often do you think about religious issues? 1
Ideology To what extent do you think that God or something divine exists 1
Public practice How often do you take part in religious services? 1
Private practice How often do you pray 2
Religious experience How often do you experience situations in which you have the feeling that God or something divine intervenes in your life? 2
CRSi 14
Intellectual How interested are you in learning more about religious topics? 2
Ideology To what extent do you believe in an afterlife, e.g., immortality of the soul, resurrection of the dead, or reincarnation? 2
Public practice How important is it to take part in religious services? 2
Private practice How important is personal prayer for you? 4
Religious experience How often do you experience situations in which you have the feeling that you are touched by divine power? 4
CRSi 20
Intellectual How often do you keep yourself informed about religious questions through radio, television, internet, newspapers, or books? 3
Ideology In your opinion, how probable is it that a higher power really exists? 3
Public practice How important is it for you to be connected to a religious community? 3
Private practice How often do you pray spontaneously when inspired by daily situations? 6
Religious experience How often do you experience situations in which you have the feeling that God or something divine is present? 5


[1] Jacob Poushter and Nicolas Kent, 'The Global Divide on Homosexuality Persists', Pew Research Center, 25 June 2020, online:, accessed 29 June 2021.

[2] Poushter and Kent, 'The Global Divide,' p. 7.

[3] There are reports of Filipino LGBTQ youths enduring abuse from their parents or guardians. UNDP and USAID, Being LGBT in Asia: The Philippines Country Report: A Participatory Review and Analysis of the Legal and Social Environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Individuals and Civil Society, Bangkok, 2014, online:, accessed 29 Jun. 2021.

Some experience bullying in educational institutions and the workplace. See Lee Yarcia, Tesa de Vela and Michael Tan, 'Queer identity and gender-related rights in post-colonial Philippines,’ Australian Journal of Asian Law 20, no. 1, article 19, (2019): 265–75 online:, accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

Most of these have been attributed to deep feelings of fear and shame among some parents concerning the sexual identity and behaviour of their offspring. See Tanya Erzen, Straight to Jesus, London: University of California Press, 2006. Also see Sabra Katz-Wise and Janet Hyde, 'Victimization experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals: A meta-analysis,' Journal of Sex Research 49, no. 2 (2012):142–67.

[4] Michael D. Mink, Lisa L. Lindley and Ali A. Weinstein, 'Stress, stigma, and sexual minority status: The intersectional ecology model of LGBTQ health,' Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 26, no. 4 (2014): 502–21.

[5] Stephen Russell and Jessica Fish, 'Mental health in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth,' Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 12 (2016): 465–87.

[6] Michael King, Joanna Semylen, Sharon See Tai, Helen Killaspy, David Osborn, Dmitri Popelyuk and Irwin Nazareth, 'A systematic review of mental disorder, suicide, and deliberate self-harm in lesbian, gay, and bisexual people,' Biomedical Central Psychiatry 8, no. 70 (2018):1–17.

[7] Joanna Almeida, Renee Johnson, Heather Corliss, Beth Molnar and Deborah Azrael, 'Emotional distress among LGBT youth: The influence of perceived discrimination based on sexual orientation,' Journal of Youth and Adolescence 38 (2009):1001–14.

[8] Susan Cochran, Greer Sullivan and Vikie Mays, 'Prevalence of mental disorders, psychological distress, and mental health services use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States,' Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 71, no. 1 (2003): 53–61.

[9] Harold G. Koenig, Religion and Mental Health: Research and Clinical Applications, London: Elsevier Inc. 2018, pp. 129–52, doi: 10.1016/B978–0–12–811282–3.00006–9.

[10] Jeremy J. Gibbs and Jeremy Goldbach, 'Religious conflict, sexual Identity, and suicidal behaviors among LGBT young adults,' Archives of Suicide Research: Official Journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research 19, no. 4 (2015): 472-88.

[11] Karl Kralovec, Clemens Fartacek, Reinhold Fartacek and Martin Plöderl, 'Religion and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, and bisexual Austrians,' Journal of Religion & Health 53, no. 2 (2014): 413-23

[12] David M. Barnes and Ilan H. Meyer, 'Religious affiliation, internalized homophobia, and mental health in lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals,' American Journal of Orthopsychiatry no. 4 (2012): 505–15.

[13] Guy Shilo and Riki Savaya, 'Mental health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and young adults: differential effects of age, gender, religiosity, and sexual orientation,' in Journal of Research on Adolescence 22, no. 2 (2012): 310–25.

[14] Xijia Tang and Ak Narayan Poudel, 'Exploring challenges and problems faced by lgbt students in Philippines: A qualitative study,' Journal of Public Health Policy Planning 2, no. 3 (2018): 9–17.

[15] Patty Van Cappellen, Maria Toth-Gauthier, Vassilis Saroglou and Barbara L. Fredrickson, 'Religion and well-being: The mediating role of positive emotions,' Journal of Happiness Studies 17 (2016): 485–505, at p. 494.

[16] Koenig, 'Positive Emotions,' para. 89.

[17] Ferdinand Patinio, 'More Pinoys believe faith 'very important' in fighting Covid-19,' Philippine News Agency, 14 Jul. 2020, online:, accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

[18] Fides del Castillo and Marie Aliño, 'Religious coping of selected Filipino Catholic youth,' Religions 11, no. 9 (2020): 462–74, at p. 462.

[19] Fides del Castillo, Clarence Darro del Castillo, Gregory Ching and Michael Sepidoza Campos, 'Centrality of religiosity among select LGBTQs in the Philippines,' Religions 12, no. 2: 83 (2021): 1–17.

[20] When someone 'comes out,' they accept themselves as LGBTQ and integrate their orientation into various aspects of their lives. There are two dimensions to the term: self-identification and disclosure of sexual orientation. See Job Francis Padayattil, 'Filipino parental experiences of having gay adolescent son: Toward building a framework,' DSLU Dissertation (2007).

[21] Stefan Huber and Matthias Richard, 'The inventory of emotions towards God (EtG): Psychological valences and theological issues,' Review of Religious Research 52, no. 1 (2010): 21–40.

[22] Malu Marin, 'Philippine' [sic], in Unspoken Rules: Sexual Orientation and Women's Human Rights, ed. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and Rachel Rosenbloom, UNKNO, 1996, online:–1.pdf, accessed 15 Sep. 2022.

[23] Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997, par. 2357–58.

[24] Arvin Joaquin, 'Carrying the cross: Being gay, Catholic and Filipino,' Sociology and Anthropology Student Undergraduate Journal 1 (Summer 2014): 17–25.

[25] Joaquin, 'Carrying the cross,' p. 22.

[26] UNDP and USAID, Being LGBT in Asia.

[27] Carla Barbosa, Nuno F. Ribeiro and Toni Liechty, 'I'm being told on Sunday mornings that there's nothing wrong with me: Lesbian's experiences in an LGBTQ-oriented religious leisure space,' Leisure Sciences 42, no. 2 (2020): 224–42.

[28] Supreme Court of the Philippines, Decision: Falcis vs. Civil Registrar General, G.R. No. 217910, September 03, 2019, online:, accessed 10 Jan. 2022.

[29] Julie Exline, Joshua A. Wilt, Valencia A. Harriott, Kenneth I. Pargament and Todd W. Hall, 'Is God listening to my prayers? Initial validation of a brief measure of perceived Divine engagement and disengagement in response to prayer,' Religions 12, no. 2 (2021): 80, doi: 10.3390/rel12020080.

[30] 'If the individual’s Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS) index is higher than 4.0, the respondent is categorized as 'highly religious.' This means that she or he has a profound religious life. As such, faith likely plays a central role in her or his life.' See Michael Ackert, Elena Prutskova and Ivan Zabaev, 'Validation of the short forms of centrality of religiosity scale in Russia,' Religions 11, no. 11: 577 (2020), at p. 6, doi: 10.3390/rel11110577.

[31] del Castillo, del Castillo, Ching and Campos, 'Centrality of religiosity among select LGBTQs,' p 9.

[32] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 21.

[33] Richard Lawrence, 'Measuring the image of God: The God image inventory and the God image scales,' in Journal of Psychology and Theology 25, no. 2 (June 1997): 214–26.

[34] Huber and Huber, ‘Emotions towards God,’ p. 23.

[35] Kay Petersen, Persönliche Gottesvorstellungen. Empirische Untersuchungen / Entwicklung eines Klärungsverfahrens, Hamburg: Verlag an der Lottbek, 1993.

[36] Sebastian Murken, Gottesbeziehung und psychische Gesundheit. Die Entwicklung eines Modells und seine empirische Überprüfung, Münster: Waxmann, 1998.

[37] Tobias Künkler, Tobias Faix and Marie Jäckel, 'The guilt phenomenon. An analysis of emotions towards God in highly religious adolescents and young adults,' Religions 11, no. 8 (2020): 420, doi: 10.3390/rel11080420.

[38] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 23.

[39] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 24.

[40] World Health Organization, Population Data by Country (Recent Years), (2015), online:, accessed 10 July 2021.

[41] These studies include the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines–Episcopal Commission on Youth CBCP–ECY in 2014; Roland Agoncillo, Understanding Catholic Youth Religiosity in a Developing Country, Ho Chi Mihn: International Conference on Language, Education, Humanities & Innovations 2015, online:, accessed 10 July 2021; 'Fourth quarter 2019 social weather survey: Record-high 83% of adult Filipinos say religion is "very important,"' Social Weather Stations, 12 Apr. 2020, online:, accessed 15 Jul. 2021; Rito Baring, Philip Joseph Sarmiento, Nestor Sibug, Paolo Lumanlan, Benito Bonus, Cristina Samia and Stephen Reysen, 'Filipino college students' attitudes towards religion: An analysis of the underlying factors,' Religions 9 (2018): 85.

[42] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 22.

[43] A highly religious individual has an intense religious life, whereas a religious person lives their faith sporadically. Religion plays a minor role in the lives of non--religious people, though it is present in their lives. See Ackert et al., ‘Validation of the short forms of centrality of religiosity scale in Russia,' p. 6.

[44] del Castillo, del Castillo, Ching and Campos, 'Centrality of religiosity among select LGBTQs.'

[45] Huber and Richard, 'Emotion towards God.'

[46] Stefan Huber and Odilo W. Huber, 'The centrality of religiosity scale (CRS),' Religions 3, no. 3 (2012): 710–24, doi: 10.3390/rel3030710.

[47] Huber and Huber, 'The centrality of religiosity scale,' p. 720.

[48] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 35.

[49] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' p. 24.

[50] Huber and Huber, 'The centrality of religiosity scale,' p. 720.

[51] del Castillo, del Castillo, Ching, and Campos, 'Centrality of religiosity among select LGBTQs,' p.14

[52] Lee Cronbach, 'Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests,' Psychometrika 16 (1951): 297–334.

[53] James Arbuckle, IBM SPSS Amos 20 User's Guide, Mount Pleasant: Amos Development Corporation, 2011.

[54] The term skewness refers to symmetry, while the term kurtosis refers to the normality of the distribution of the data. NIST, ‘Measure of Skewness and Kurtosis,’ (n.d.) online:, accessed 15 Jul. 2021.

[55] Everarda Cunningham, A Practical Guide to Structural Equation Modelling Using AMOS, Melbourne: Statsline, 2008.

[56] This refers to the social expectation that religious people have some knowledge of religion and that they can explain their views on transcendence, religion, and religiosity. Huber and Huber 2012, p. 714.

[57] This refers to the social expectation that religious individuals have beliefs regarding the existence and the essence of a transcendent reality and the relation between transcendence and human. Huber and Huber 2012, p. 714.

[58] This refers to the social expectation that religious individuals belong to religious communities which is manifested in the public participation in religious rituals and communal activities. Huber and Huber 2012, p. 714.

[59] This refers to the social expectation that religious individuals devote themselves to transcendence in individualized activities and rituals in private space. Huber and Huber 2012, p. 714.

[60] This refers to the social expectation that religious individuals have some kind of direct contact with the ultimate reality. Huber and Huber 2012, pp. 714–15.

[61] Louies Cohen, Lawrence Manion and Keith Morrison, Research Methods in Education, 6th ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2007.

[62] In this study, non-religious refers to individuals who have 'almost no faith life. In such a case, it is very likely that religion does not matter to her or him at all or only has little influence.' See Ackert et al., 'Validation of the short forms of centrality of religiosity scale in Russia,' p. 6.

[63] Gratitude refers to a life orientation that perceives and appreciates the positive. See Alex Wood, John Maltby, Paohael Gillet, Alex Linley, and Stephen Joseph, 'The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress and depression: Two longitudinal studies,' Journal of Research in Personality 42 (2008): 854–71.

A grateful person finds meaning even in negative events. Studies show that gratitude is positively correlated with trust in God. See Malgorzata Szcześniak, Grazyna Bielecka, Iga Bajkowska, Anna Czaprowska and Dana Madej, 'Religious/spiritual struggles and life satisfaction among young Roman Catholics: The mediating role of gratitude,' Religions 10 (2019): 395) and thus decreases psychological distress. See Y. Joel Wong, Nancy McKean Blackwell, Nancy Goodrich Mitts, Nicole T. Gabana and Yue Li, 'Giving thanks together: A preliminary evaluation of the Gratitude Group Program,' Practice Innovations 2 (2017): 243–57.

Hope is defined as a perception that goals are attainable and that successful paths can be determined to reach those goals. SeeLowell, Emily, Tonnsen, Bridgette, Bailey, Don, and Roberts, Jane, 'The effects of optimism, religion, and hope on mood and anxiety disorders in women with the FMR1 premutation: Protective factors in FMR1 premutation.' Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 61(2017), 916–27, doi: 10.1111/jir.12409. It is an 'essential index of well--being, especially among individuals who experience distress.'See (Bernardo, Allan and Estrellado, Alicia. ‘Measuring hope in the Philippines: Validating the short version of locust-of-hope scale in Filipino,’ Social Indicators Research 119 (2014), 1649–61, at p. 1649. In the context of the Christian religion, hope provides individuals with the prospect of a purposeful destiny or optimistic visions of the future. See Oliver Bennett, 'The manufacture of hope: Religion, eschatology and the culture of optimism,' International Journal of Cultural Policy 17 (2011): 115–30, doi: 10.1080/10286632.2010.543462.

[64] Robert Buenaventura, Jacqueline B. Ho and Maria Lapid, 'COVID-19 and mental health of older adults in the Philippines: A perspective from a developing country,' International Psychogeriatrics 32, no. 10 (October 2020): 1129–33, doi: 10.1017/S1041610220000757.

[65] Jabar Heydari-Fard, Masoumeh Bagheri-Nesami, Marjan Ahmad Shirvani and Reza-Ali Mohammadpour-Tahamatan, 'Association between quality of life and religious coping in older people,' Nursing Older People 26, no. 3 (2014): 24–29, doi: 10.7748/nop2014.

[66] Huber and Richard, 'Emotion towards God,' p. 24.

[67] Patrick O'Neill Taylor, Doctor of Providence, New York: First Things, 2020, pp. 1–8.

[68] David Fergusson, 'The theology of providence,' Theology Today 67, no. 3 (October 2010): 261–78.

[69] Alyssa J. Haggerty, 'Sacred shame: Integrating spirituality and sexuality, online from Sophia,' Master of Social Work Clinical Research Paper, online: SOPHIA, St. Catherine University repository website:, accessed 20 Jan 2022.

[70] Virgilio Enríquez, 'Filipino psychology in the third world,' Philippine Journal of Psychology 10 (1977): 3–18.

[71] José De Mesa, In Solidarity with the Culture, Quezon City: Maryhill School of Theology, 1987.

[72] Jac Brown, and Robert Trevethan, 'Shame, internalized homophobia, identity formation, attachment style, and the connection to relationship status in gay men,' American Journal of Men's Health 4, no. 3 (2010): 267–76; Clare Wilson and Laura Cariola, 'LGBTQI+ youth and mental health: A systematic review of qualitative research,' Adolescent Research Review 5 (2019): 187–211

[73] Antonio Tamayao, Rudolf Vecaldo, Jay Asunción, Maria Mamba, Febe Paat and Editha Pagulayan, 'Self-concept and college readiness of Filipino LGBTQ++ K-12 Graduates,' Journal of Educational and Social Research 11, no. 1 (2021): 49, doi: 10.36941/jesr-2021-0006.

[74] The Task Force on Sexual Ethics, 'Sexual ethics: Experience, growth, challenge: A pastoral reflection for lesbian and gay Catholics,' Dignity USA, 17–19 May 1985, online:, 10 Jul. 2021; Statement of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family, Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers,10 Sep. 1997, online:, accessed 10 Jan. 2022.

[75] Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge, 1990; Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality: vol. 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley, London: Vintage Books, 1990; Michael Sepidoza Campos, 'In God's house: Of silences and belonging,' Journal of Theology and Sexuality 17, no. 3 (2013): 265–77.

[76] ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Bata at Bahaghari: Experiences of LGBT Children, ed. Ryan Silverio, ASC Discussion Series No. 1, Quezon City: ASEAN Sogie, 2017; Jayell Cornelio, Being Catholic in the Contemporary Philippines: Young People Interpreting Religion, New York, NY: Routledge, 2016; UNDP and USAID, Being LGBT in Asia.

[77] Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.

[78] Burrus, Saving Shame, pp. 110–11.

[79] Butler, Gender Trouble, p. xxvii.

[80] Butler, Gender Trouble.

[81] Foucault, The History of Sexuality, p 19.

[82] Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 'Epistemology of the closet,' in The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, ed. Henry Abelove, Michelle Aina Barale and David M. Halperin, New York, NY: Routledge, 1993, pp. 45–61.

[83] Sedgwick, 'Epistemology of the closet,' p. 55.

[84] Michael Tan, Shattering the Myths: A Primer on HIV, AIDS, and the Filipino, 1st ed, Manila: Anvil Publishing, 1997; Martin Manalansán, Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora, Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

[85] Karen Enríquez, 'From hiya to dangal: A critique of John Paul II's theological anthropology in light of the experience of Filipino women,' Budhi: A Journal of Ideas and Culture 16, no. 1 (2012): 51–75.

[86] Enríquez, 'From hiya to dangal,' pp. 53–55.

[87] Agnes Brazal, 'Recasting ethics of face and hiya (shame) in the light of cybersexual violence against women,' International Journal of Practical Theology 24, no. 2 (2020): 285–302.

[88] Enríquez, 'From hiya to dangal,' p. 59.

[89] Indeed, for Huber and Huber, 'people with greater religious experiences are more likely to experience negative emotions toward God' and 'as one gets older, subjects experience more negative emotions toward God.' See Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' pp. 34–35. Why are you referencing Huber and Richard here

[90] Künkler, Faix, and Jäckel, 'The guilt phenomenon,' p. 1.

[91] Huber and Richard, 'Emotions towards God,' pp. 22, 38.


Published with the support of Gender and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
Page constructed by Carolyn Brewer
Last modified: 3 Dec. 2022 1416