The effects of ayahuasca ritual participation on gay and lesbian identity

J Psychoactive Drugs. 2014 Jul-Aug;46(3):252-60. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2014.920117.


The practice of drinking ayahuasca-a psychoactive brew indigenous to the Amazon-has been investigated in several studies and shown to have positive long-term effects on mental states, and a particularly strong positive effect on perceptions of identity. This article discusses if these previous findings can be found in the experience of gay people, who are often taught by their culture and religion that their lifestyles, values, and sexual orientation are unacceptable. The qualitative study examined the interview responses of 17 self-identified gay and lesbian participants who had drunk ayahuasca in a ceremonial context within the past three years, regarding their self-perceptions and integration of group beliefs. Participants drank either in shamanic or Santo Daime ceremonies or, in the case of one participant, with an Afro-Brazilian group that used ayahuasca. Participants reported affirmation of their sexual orientation, and no participants reported negative effects on perception of identity. Additional positive effects in other areas of their lives, which they attributed to ayahuasca sessions, contributed to the overall positive outcomes that were reported by this group as a result of their ritual participation.

Keywords: ayahuasca; gay; identity; lesbian; religion.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Banisteriopsis*
  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Consciousness / drug effects
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Homosexuality, Female / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / ethnology
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*


  • Plant Preparations
  • Psychotropic Drugs