Today we continue the series on LGBT & faith. We’ll conclude next week with a personal story, but today, we have a guest post from Liz Mallory, who I guest posted for last week. She’s a Christian, a great writer, a married woman, and a bisexual.
Bisexuality is rarely talked about in context of faith – and today Liz bravely dispels some common myths surrounding bisexuality & bisexuals.
I’m delighted to welcome Liz here.
I am a woman. I’m attracted to women, men, and genderqueer individuals. I’m married to a man whom I love dearly. And I’m a Jesus follower.
I’ve known for years my attractions weren’t “normal.” But it took me until 2014 to have a name for what I am: bisexual.
Bisexuals are called a lot of things we aren’t: polyamorous, loose, unfaithful, sex-obsessed, questioning, slutty. None of those things describe who I am. For a long time I went back and forth between calling myself lesbian and straight. Neither fit right.
All this could have been avoided if I’d known what bisexual actually means.
The myths about bisexuals are pervasive. People who know me best react with fear and confusion when they find out I’m bi, thinking I’m going to cheat on my husband or run through the streets naked. I want to clear this up.
10 Truths About Bisexuals:
We’re not gay. Gay folks don’t love the opposite sex; I do. There’s this idea that bisexuality is a foot-in-the-door for eventually coming out gay. But I love my husband as much as I loved my best friend in high school. My lesbian friends, on the other hand, have zero attraction to men. When I point out Chris Evans’ chiseled abs, they don’t care.
We’re not straight. My same-sex attractions aren’t a fad. I’m not forcing feelings for women so I can be cool. Being attracted to your own gender is confusing, shameful-feeling, and ostracizing in today’s society. I fell for the women I did because they were amazing, beautiful, funny, smart, and my type: the same reasons I fell for the men I dated.
We are monogamous. I’m not interested in having a relationship with anyone other than my spouse. I’m not incomplete or unfulfilled with him. Bisexuals aren’t greedy or discontented people. There are more people in the world we could potentially fall in love with, but that doesn’t mean we’ll fall in love with all of them.
Loving one person doesn’t make me gay/straight. Being with my husband for the rest of our lives doesn’t mean I’m straight. In the same way that a straight woman will still experience attraction to other men, I continue to notice attractive men and women around me. Marriage is a daily choice to be with one person. I will remain bisexual the rest of my life, but I won’t act on those other attractions.
We can be religious. There’s a whole portion of the church who believes, as James and I do, that same-sex attraction and monogamous same-sex relationships are beautiful, acceptable, and godly. God made me bi and loves me for it. Some queers believe God calls them to be celibate. Either way, our sexuality doesn’t deter us from acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with Jesus.
Coming out is still important. Even though I’m in a straight relationship, coming out was still important for me. It tells people that I’m not disgusted or put off by queers as some Christians are, but rather that I relate. It tells people to be careful how they talk about queers in front of me, so that you won’t accidentally offend me. It shows people what being bi actually looks like, something I needed growing up. It also explains why I care about LGBTQ issues: this is personal for me.
Gay and straight love is the same. When I first fell in love with a woman, I was confused. Growing up in a Christian home, I’d been taught that such feelings were twisted and evil. But falling in love felt exactly the same as when I’d had a major crush on a guy the year before. I noticed every tic, memorized every word, knew every line of their face. Their laughter played in my head like a song on repeat, and I did anything to be around them. Love feels the same no matter who you fall for.
Sexual activity doesn’t define your orientation. If a person chooses celibacy, or chooses a celibate profession like priesthood, they don’t cease to be a sexual being or feel attractions to others. Your behavior and your orientation can be different. Consequently, you can never tell someone what their orientation is. Only they can tell you who they have feelings for. I’ve never kissed a girl, but that doesn’t make me any less bi. In the same vein, you can be with someone they’re not attracted to. People point to male-male rape statistics as a sign that gays are messed up, but rapists aren’t interested in love, attraction, and romance. Rape is about power. Many such rapists are actually straight.
Bisexuals are ostracized by both sides. Many straight people see bisexuals as queer sex addicts. Some gays see us as not queer enough. Straight people don’t like dating someone who’s dated their own gender, and queers don’t like dating someone who’s dated another gender. Our significant others sometimes worry that they won’t be enough for us. We also face bi-erasure: bisexual people are labeled as gay or straight depending on who they’re with, and bisexual characters in books and movies are passed off as “uncertain.” Being bi can be a very isolating experience, and it’s nice when we’re accepted as who we are. (you can tweet that)
Being my friend doesn’t make me assume you agree with me. If you don’t agree with me about sexuality and the Bible, then loving me and treating me normally isn’t going to make me think you agree. It WILL raise my respect for you. If you can be my friend and not let our agreeing-to-disagree bog you down, you’re one stellar human being, and someone I want to spend my time with.
Elizabeth Mallory is a writer, editor, and avid reader. Most days she drinks copious amounts of tea, snuggles her cat, and enjoys the ocean view of her home office while pretending to do work.
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