Cultural understandings around the spaces in which LGBTQ people belong in the contemporary United States make two clear assumptions: queer people belong in and around musical theatre, but there is no space for them in the church. This understanding of queerness and faith as antithetical carries both emotional and material costs for people who live at the intersections of those identities, and there is little research into the theatrical depictions of either those people or those costs. This article argues that musicals that include queer characters of faith who engage in liturgical acts onstage create opportunities for religious audience members to affectively engage with those characters, encouraging empathetic connection that may foster coalition-building behaviors outside the theatre. This engagement is the result of demonstrating a shared cultural memory informed by Paul Ricouer's “memory of close relations,” which builds on the affective modes of spectatorship all musical theatre invites.

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