Exploring The Hidden Links Between Shame, Sexuality, And Religion

“I am a psychotherapist and a small private practice business owner. We focus on queer community, non-monogamy, sexual health, and sexual positivity.”

Episode summary:

In this episode, Nick speaks with Ann Russo, a psychotherapist and entrepreneur, about her work with diverse communities and her experience with religious shame and sexuality. They discuss the intersection of religion and LGBTQ+ issues, the harm caused by religious shame, and the importance of understanding different perspectives. Listen in as they unpack the impact of shame and the importance of empathy and communication in healing from trauma, as well as explore the intersection of sexual orientation and religiosity and the struggle faced by individuals who experience shame in these areas.

What to listen for:

  • Religious shame and the rejection of LGBTQ+ individuals by some Christian communities can lead to higher rates of mental health issues and other challenges.
  • Exploring childhood experiences and the messages received during that time can help uncover the roots of shame.
  • Understanding the historical context of the Bible and the role of the church in shaping religious beliefs can help challenge harmful interpretations and promote empathy.
  • The importance of conversations and empathy when addressing sexual shame and promoting understanding between different perspectives.
  • How Shame can manifest in various ways and is often accompanied by anger, guilt, and denial. It is important to identify and understand the underlying emotions.

I’ve always gone into spaces that might seem a little strange or intimidating to other people… I just allow myself to be in these spaces as long as people invite me into those spaces. I’m totally there to like, experience their life and what’s going on rather than have presuppositions.”

  • Willingness to explore unfamiliar or intimidating spaces without preconceived notions is extremely beneficial to understanding ourselves and others
  • By emphasizing with our intention to understand others’ lives and experiences, we can show empathy and respect toward those we connect with 
  • Exploring a willingness to embrace new opportunities for personal growth and understanding
  • Understanding the desire to experience life as it is, without presuppositions, we can explore our own authenticity 

“It’s a terrible feeling when you know that people really are trying their best… But you’re the only one that can make it better.”

  • Despite recognizing others’ efforts, we can acknowledge that ultimately, we are responsible for improving our own circumstances.
  • The importance of personal accountability and introspection in fostering positive change.
  • How resilience plays into our learning and attempts to make life better
  • People are trying their best, it is possible for us to understand and empathize with others’ struggles.

“I’m confident that the more exposure and the more conversations and the less anger, we can get to a place of understanding.”

  • We can be optimistic in our outlook because our human nature is embedded with the potential for positive change through communication.
  • We encourage meaningful engagement as a means to promote understanding and empathy.
  • Conflict Resolution is key, but not at our own detriment
  • Achieving understanding requires a collective effort

About Ann Russo

Ann specializes in LGBTQ+ issues, with a unique background in theology, ethical non-monogamy and mental health (she got her Masters Degree in Theology). She combines personal experience with professional expertise to provide accessible mental health care though her business AMR. She has done speaking engagements and has been hired to train and educate various groups on these topics, including hospitals, clergy, and other therapists.


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