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Social Issues

I’m bisexual and still just as objective as you

If you’re a living person in Christian culture, then you’ve run into the following sentiment:

I can agree with much of what she's written and I definitely think that the church has lost its way. But as much as she speaks to the motivations of the authors of the Bible you have to ask how much she's motivated by being "an out bisexual feminist"? When people live opposed to what the Bible calls sin then they will often be opposed to the Bible itself for their own reasons.

The argument goes that because we’re LGBT (or, in this particular case, also a woman who believes in equality), we have “skin in the game” of biblical interpretation. Obviously we’re predisposed toward a particular outcome, so our judgment can’t be trusted. We can’t possibly read the Bible “objectively,” so any argument that a queer person makes about Romans 1 not necessarily being about sexual orientation is intrinsically untrustworthy.

Unlike straight people, who are clearly impartial and unaffected by this issue, so they can read the Bible without being influenced by their feelings. They can come to a clear-headed and open-minded conclusion on whether or not having sex with a similar-gender person is a sin, but a queer person can’t. In short, straights are telling the LGBT community that they definitely have our best interests at heart, and they can totally be trusted not to be wrong about this.

Aside from how incredibly patronizing this attitude is, we also have some fairly definitive proof that straights do not have the best interests of the LGBT community in mind. I know that in their head, they do– I know that they’re probably aware of how their “support” looks to us. They also don’t really care. To them, all that matters is that we’re saved from our sinful lifestyles; if they have to support legislation that will harm trans people, or force destructive conversion therapy on LGB youth, or encourage parents to physically beat their children into being straight, or call for us to be stoned to death … then they will. They have to hold us accountable for our sin, and if they kill us (or encourage other people to kills us) in the process, then no matter.

And even after countless decades of the Christian right condemning our very existence as sin, like this fellow:

Your website says you are bisexual, is it true? Is it not a sin according to God's word?

… we’re just supposed to accept that straights don’t have any possible motivation that could affect their judgment. They don’t have feelings about us that could make it difficult to be impartial. No ounce of hatred, no sliver of fear. No revulsion or disgust whatsoever. They approach LGBT rights and the Bible as a blank slate, with no predispositions of any kind.

Oh, except that’s completely wrong. In fact, people like Thabiti Anyabwile have explicitly argued in favor of Christians depending on their disgust (which is, needless to say, an emotional reaction) to drive their morals and biblical interpretation. Listen to Kevin Swanson and his ilk bloviate for more than two seconds and their hatred of us comes searing through.

Sure, maybe I’m being affected by my desire for love and acceptance when I read Romans 1 … just like any straight person can be affected by their disgust or hatred or fear when they read Romans 1.

The fact of the matter is that, when it comes to the Bible, no one is objective.

I came to the Bible a few years ago, doing my best to be open and honest about what I would find. To be blunt, my thinking at the time was that if I discovered that the Bible does speak on sexual orientations and condemned similar-gender relationships, then I was going to walk away from it all and leave Christianity behind. I knew I was bisexual, and if the Bible was going to tell me that was wrong, then I was done. Obviously, I’m still here, so I must’ve discovered something different. In my opinion there isn’t enough evidence one way or the other to be absolutely conclusive, so I err on the side of loving others and doing no harm. My hermenuetic looks a bit like St. Augstine’s, actually:

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.

This argument that only straight people can be trusted to interpret Scripture correctly and appropriately– because queer folk don’t want to be told we’re sinning– doesn’t make any sense. If it were true, then no one would ever be able to agree about any sin. Except we know that it’s possible for greedy people to know they’re greedy and that the Bible vociferously condemns it. Or how about the two sins that almost always get brought up in these conversations: pride and gluttony. I’ve known many people over the years that confessed to gluttony and acknowledged their belief that the Bible says that gluttony is a sin– and the same thing goes for proud people.

If straights are right about the LGBT’s supposed inability to “properly” read the Bible, then how in the world is it possible for anyone to read the Bible and feel challenged by it? Our personal experience tells us that it is not just possible, it happens all of the time. I still experience feeling “convicted,” to use the evangelical parlance, and I don’t even think the Bible is inspired or inerrant anymore.

We all bring our baggage to the Bible. That’s part of what makes our collective experience of it so beautiful. It’s a text we share communally and individually, publicly and privately. We talk, we share, and together we try to build an understanding that enriches our lives, brings us comfort, and helps us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

LGBT people shouldn’t be shut out of this conversation anymore. We bring a different set of experiences, a different way of being, a different way of seeing. When you silence anyone who isn’t white, or isn’t straight, or isn’t nuerotypical, you’re shutting yourself up into an ivory tower. It’s impossible to cut off the parts of us that make us human and still do good and loving theological work.

In my life, being bisexual puts me at a certain distance from the Bible because I’m not deliberately included in it. Because of that, my relationship with the Bible has to be more interrogative than it would otherwise be, because it’s a story we’re supposed to find ourselves in. When it’s not obvious where I fit, I have to do more digging. I’m open to discovering things that aren’t sitting on the surface. In a sense, I can benefit from the fact that I’m not the primary audience– often, I’m an outsider looking in. I can help broaden some of the narratives, bring stories into new lights and next contexts.

I can look a story that we’ve all heard a thousand times and ask questions like is it possible that Ruth is bisexual? When she abandons Moab and aligns with Noami in a speech that is often used in our wedding ceremonies; when she lives with Naomi, comforts her, listens to her, and raises a son with her … do we have to view her character as straight? Why do we assume she’s straight?

Because I don’t have the dominant experience of heterosexuality, I’m better equipped to get at the bottom of some of our assumptions. It’s my first impulse to ask why of concepts that seem long settled.

I lack objectivity. So do you. And that’s a good thing.

Photo by Murray Barnes

thoughts prompted by the GCN conference

I wish there was a way to communicate how busy it has been for the past few months, and how wonderful and exhausting, all together at once. Between visiting family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, business travel, buying a house, packing, moving, unpacking, painting, and all the other little odds and ends that fall along with that … it’s been a whirlwind.

Handsome and I did buy a townhome, and I am sitting in my brand-spanking new office, with my brand-spanking new bookshelves (the past few months have seen a steady buildup of book piles around my old office), and I’m thrilled to pieces. There is sunlight in my home in winter. I have windows. I’m hoping this will help with the seasonal affective disorder, but February will be the true test of that. February is really the cruelest month.

We’re mostly unpacked—technically everything is out of boxes, there’s just a pile of things on my dining table left to be hung or sold or donated. So far it’s all the tiny little things that add up that make moving exhausting. Not the rent-the-truck-have-all-your-friends-carry-boxes day, but the week and a half after of trying to find 22x20x1 HEPA filters that don’t seem to exist for your brand-spanking-new furnace.

Update on something slightly more relevant to you readers: thanks to my Patrons and the many of you who helped on top of that, I was able to attend the Gay Christian Network Conference a few weeks ago, and present on Bi the Way: What’s Next for Bisexuality in the Church with Eliel Cruz-Lopez and Sarah Moon.

The panel was spectacular, and I even got to meet and hang out with a few of you, which was the highlight of the conference for me. It was mind-blowingly weird and fun to be live-tweeted, y’all. People were quoting the things I, Eliel, and Sarah were saying, and a few folks came up at the end and said we’d started them thinking or even changed their minds on a few things. That was amazing. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from the panel, but at the end when people were coming up and hugging me and we all laughed and cried together … I felt like I was standing on holy ground.

What happened for me at the conference happens so rarely that it both feeds my soul and enrages me all at the same time. Thursday night we sang a song about God’s love for us, and listening to all those people in the room I knew that they meant—really meant—that God loved all of us, that God loved me. It’s infuriating that feeling the love of God from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ is so rare, but it was nice to experience regardless.

Every time I feel like maybe I should just say “screw it,” and give up on being a Christian, something like going to the GCN conference happens. I’m still on the fence about a lot of things, and my faith is just as mixed-up and confused as ever, but the few moments in my life like GCN’s conference tells me that remaining a Christian is still a worthy endeavor. Maybe it won’t be that way forever, but it’s true for at least today.

Other things of note at the conference: Broderick Greer preached Thursday night. We need more theology from survivors, from the margins, as Broderick put it, because “objective” theology from the Ivory Towers of White Supremacy and Misogyny is … well, to put it bluntly, faith without works is dead, and there’s nothing more dead to me than a bunch of old straight cisgender white men talking about God as if they have the sole right to Themself. They stay locked up there and refuse to come down to where people are dying because of their so-called “objective” theologies. It’s “faith” without boots on.

One of the workshops I attended was given by a former fundamentalist, and the description in the pamphlet said it would link fundamentalism and idolatry– y’know me, I exclaimed ooo! and went. I believe he was quoting someone when he gave this line: “fundamentalists don’t believe. They know,” which he followed up with “ever heard ‘I know that I know that I know that I’m saved!’?” and I think I gasped aloud, because he was right, and it helped clarify something for me that I’ve been struggling with a ton over the past few months.

The reality that I don’t know, that, in truth, it is impossible to know whether or not god/the supernatural/a supreme being/deity exists, and in fact, believing in him/they/her anyway is probably the essence of faith … well, it’s driving me nuts. I want to know. I want to look at my world and feel reasonably confident in “yes, a supernatural being has a redemptive plan for their creation and I am a participant in that plan” or “no, there is no divine spirit guiding anything, ever, we’re all a mathematical miracle and then we die the end.” However, what’s been hitting me in the gut every time I try to think about it is that there is no way to know, and that’s sort of the whole point behind faith.

I used to think that atheists claiming that Christians accepting the existence of God on “faith” meant we were believing in something without any evidence was a load of bunk … but now I think they’re right. I don’t have any “evidence” or “proof.”

I’m not ok with that yet, but I’m getting there. I’m becoming ok that choosing to believe in the Christian Trinity is no more or less ridiculous than believing in the Greek pantheon or the ancient Mesopotamian goddesses. It’s faith. I don’t know, I believe that a Triune God exists, and that they love me.

But, moving on. Perspectives embraced by organizations like GCN (who represents both Side A and Side B positions), that it’s important for all of us to live in the tension of disagreement over important ideas, are always challenging for me. Part of that is my ISTJ-ness—I want to be right, dammit—but another part of it is that I look at platforms like Side B and think “oh hell no.” If you’re LGBT and have chosen Side B for yourself, more power to you. You do you. But the fact that the most commonly held position among straight evangelical Christians is Side B makes me light on fire a little bit.

And Allyson Robinson’s address is still making me think. Some of what she said, things like “the culture war is over,” I flat-out disagree with especially as a bisexual person who isn’t even widely accepted in the LGBT community and we’ve got a freaking letter. But other things, like encouraging us not to use mockery and derision and snippiness and trolling when interacting with bigots … steps on my toes a mite. But, it reminds me of a truth I’ve been hearing echoed in several places, from Audre Lorde to bell hooks to Brian Zahnd in Beauty Will Save the World: you cannot use the tools of Empire to remove that Empire from power.

In many ways, that was the trouble with second-wave feminism: they decided to use patriarchy’s tools to try to tear down the patriarchy. They decided to adopt the same metrics that patriarchy’s Empire used to measure success: jobs, wealth, political power, capital.

The Christian LGBT community is, in many ways, a triumph of love over hate. But it’s hard, it’s hard not to hate, especially recently. A deep, miry, black, thick and oozing place inside of me roils when I heard Trump say things like “I could shoot someone in the middle of the street and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” When I hear Falwell, Jr. say “we need to end those Muslims,” it’s hard not to choke on my hatred. I want to scream and cry and break things.

Anger is appropriate, even rage. But hatred is not. When Jesus said that hatred is like murdering someone in your heart … he was right, and it’s not ok. I’m not entirely sure how to stop, but I know that I have to be able to. I cannot use the tools and weapons of Empire.

I’m not entirely sure what that all looks like, or what all I think about everything I’ve just spilled out here, but I’m working through it one day at a time. If you’d like to be as encouraged and challenged and confused as I was for three days, maybe you can go the GCN conference next year. It’s in Pittsburg.

I don’t quite have internet at the new house yet (it’ll be here on Thursday), but I am back to a regular blogging schedule again. Thanks for all of your patience and support through the past two months.

Feminism, Social Issues

bisexuality and purity culture

I’m going to my first-ever Pride event this weekend, so I’ve been paying a little more attention to the things people have been saying about bisexuality recently. Being bi has its own particular struggles, mostly because it seems as though people are just as confused about bisexuality as they used to be about being gay. I feel like our culture has a somewhat decent handle on what being “gay” means; while there are still plenty of ridiculous stereotypes about gay men, I get the feeling that many/most people realize that those things are just stereotypes.

The same is not true of bisexuality, as you can see from the following.

The first is a quote from Andrée Seu Peterson’s “B is for Bogus“:

The LGT guys should be asking themselves about now, “What’s with this ‘B’ guy standing over there in a circle having laughs and a martini at our party? He’s not a real anything! He’s not hard-wired homosexual or a tortured misfit in his own body trying to climb out; he’s just coming along for a free ride. He makes us look bad, because intelligent people will come to their senses and say to themselves, ‘The whole LGBT movement is as phony as a three-dollar bill; look at this “B” thing in the middle that’s just clear-cut straight-up promiscuity.’ This ‘B’ guy blows our cover!”

If there were a book for gays with parables in it like the Bible, the “B” guy would be the one at the wedding feast who gets kicked out when it is noticed by his lack of proper wedding attire that he is an imposter.

The second is from James Dobson’s radio show:

I’ve been thinking about those pastors, those people in the clergy who are compassionate to those who have attractions to same-sex individuals. So their inclination is to be all inclusive and put their arm around them. I would like them to think, just for a moment, about ‘LGBT.’ The ‘B’ stands for bisexual. That’s orgies! Are you really going to support this?

I hear things like that, and all I can do is:


Seriously. Where the hell does this come from? Just because my potential dating pool might, theoretically, be a bit larger than your average straight person’s does not mean I’m running around having sex with every single person I’ve ever been attracted to. All of them. At the same time. Where did they even come up with this?

Granted, hard-right-wing conservative Christians like Andrée or James aren’t the only ones to think this. There’s a heavy cultural link between bisexuality and our supposed inability to keep it in our pants, or maintain a monogamous relationship– a leap I’ve never been able to follow. Yes, bisexual people can cheat on their partners. Just like straight people. And gay people.

Bit, as s.e. smith points out:

In a society that hates women, and hates female sexuality, it would make sense for sexually active and comfortable women to be, naturally, condemned. And that goes double for bisexual women, who can’t just be happy with men like nice young ladies; they have to go around chasing women, too … There’s something people seem to find almost offensive about the idea that bisexual women actually exist, that they have relationships with both men and women, that those relationships may be long-term, committed, and monogamous …

I don’t experience the world as a bi man, but considering that female sexuality has always been strictly and harshly policed while male sexuality just hasn’t, this makes sense to me. Any time a woman steps outside the socially-acceptable constraints we’re going to run into condemnation.

But, a few days ago, it occurred to me that in a specifically Christian context, there’s some other things happening that create this horrified “THAT’S ORGIES!” reaction. I’ve written about this before (in a post about emotional adultery here and another about why purity culture doesn’t teach consent here), but I realized that what I talked about in those two posts come together in an interesting way when it comes to bisexuality.

If every person on the planet exists in a default state of consent– which purity culture subtly and overtly teaches– and if it’s impossible for men and women to “just be friends” (as argued in a recent Relevant article), then of course bi people will be promiscuous. Duh.

According to many Christians, the only real way to ensure that you don’t have an affair is to avoid deep, meaningful connections to people you might be sexually attracted to (which, for them, is always someone of the “opposite sex,” which erases bi people and non-binary people). To them, men can’t be good friends with women and vice versa, and everyone needs to take super-duper-extra-careful precautions to make darn-tootin’ sure you don’t develop pants-feelings for people. Because, as we all know, once you have pants-feelings for someone you will have sex with them, because consent isn’t a thing.

But, for bi people, the “obvious” precautions in this context don’t make sense. What are we supposed to do– have no close friends? Ever? Never be alone with any person? Lock ourselves in our bedroom, Elsa-style? So, they don’t advocate that. Instead, they either a) refuse to acknowledge our existence or b) call us all sluts.

Christian teachings about basically any relationship are horribly flawed, and I believe that a lot of the problems are rooted in this idea that people are incapable of controlling their pants-feelings unless you eliminate any possible way to express them. We’re all so deeply afraid. We don’t have sexual ethics based in consent and love, but in making us all terrified of our sexuality. That’s not healthy, and it should a concept we confront and root out– for all of us, not just bi people.

Photo by Jes
Social Issues

heteroflexibility and bisexual invisiblity

I subscribe to Cosmopolitan, mostly because initially the subscription was free and then I decided that I enjoyed reading some of the articles. For example, in this month’s issue, there’s a pretty great profile of Madonna with an amazing eight-page photo shoot and another article by Jill Filipovic titled “The Women Who Get Stuff Done,” which covers what it’s like to be an elected woman in Washington.

But then there was another article– “I want a pretty lady to give me butterflies and orgasms” by Michelle Ruiz— that I found deeply disturbing mostly because I saw the cover line “Besties with Benefits” and I was excited to read it. But then I read it … and it disappointed me and pissed me off all at the same time.

The topic of the article is something I hadn’t heard of until I read this piece: “heteroflexibility.” At first I didn’t think that Ruiz could be serious about this, but then I googled it today and … yup. “Heteroflexiblity” even gets its own Wiki page.

There are a variety of opinions about the validity of the Kinsey Scale, but the basic premise that sexuality is a much more fluid thing than the gay/straight dichotomy has room for makes sense to me (probably because I’m bi). I don’t really have a problem with someone identifying as straight but being open to the idea of sex with someone of the same gender. There are, obviously, aspects to consider with the whole “bi-curious” stereotype and what they mean for bi people like me, but I’m very much of the you do you! persuasion and telling someone they have to identify a certain way doesn’t seem smart or loving. It took me a while to figure out I was bi, and there was a moment when if I’d heard of a term like “heteroflexible” I might have found it attractive.

However, I think there is a difference between someone who is straight but is willing under the right set of circumstances to experiment with a same-sex partner, and someone who is bi or pan and has been shoved so deep into the closet by bisexual invisibility and our society’s raging homophobia that it wouldn’t ever occur to them to think of themselves as bi/pan. This particular article as well as the several I read researching for today’s post, is of the “shove people deeper into the closet variety.” For example, Ruiz talks about a Craigslist “Women seeking Woman” ad, and then says this:

She’s one of thousands of women across the country … who identify as straight–explicitly mentioning boyfriends, husbands, or dating dudes in personal ads–but are also looking for casual, lesbian sex.

That was more than mildly frustrating. Explicitly mentioning my husband does not make me straight, for the love of God. I talk about my male partner all of the flippin’ time, and I am not straight. Just … nope. Also, if I were to have sex with a woman, it would not be “lesbian sex.” It would be me, a bisexual woman, possibly having sex with a bi, pan, or lesbian woman.

Ruiz goes on to talk a lot about how these women want romantic relationships with men and casual sex with women; they’re not interested in dating or falling in love with or marrying a woman, just in a “friends-with-benefits” type of relationship. And, ok, maybe these women are straight, but Ruiz’s article among others are not even seriously interacting with the fact that bisexuality could be a possible explanation for why some women want to have sex with men and women.

There’s no discussion of the differences between romantic and sexual attraction, and how both of those things are on a spectrum. They happily ignore the fact that there are a million reasons that shine as bright on the lights on Broadway as to why these women might not want to openly identify in a sexual orientation besides straight. Ruiz only gives us this:

Allie says she has unintentionally confused a few female hookups. Some want to know what she is–a lesbian? Bisexual? “I like a person and I’m attracted to a person. Sometimes that person is man, and sometimes that person is a woman; sometimes that person is short, and sometimes that person is tall,” she says.

 So, besides the fact that this is the definition of bisexuality, “Allie” appears in an article about “straight” women. This comes a few paragraphs from the end, after Ruiz has called all of these women “straight” and “heteroflexible” repeatedly.

I’m affected by this cultural misunderstanding every day. A lot of people see my partner and I and will assume that we’re straight, or that our marriage is straight even after I’ve told them I’m bi. The “bi” parts gets completely dismissed because, after all, I’m married to a dude, and they can completely ignore that now and just pretend that I’m straight. It’s easier that way. But, here’s a head’s up: my marriage is not, cannot be straight because I’m not straight. But I’m not gay, either. I’m neither of those things, although it seems as though the whole world wants to shove me into one of two polar opposite boxes.

It’s baffling to me that an article can include a definition for bisexuality and yet still insist that it’s talking exclusively about straight women. That’s how bad bisexual invisibility is in our culture.

I’m not entirely sure what to do about this whole “heterflexibility,” thing, though. A part of me wants to condemn it totally as a ridiculous term that doesn’t exist. Part of me wants to shout that if you want to have sex with someone of the same sex, you ain’t straight. People are skittish around that, mostly because our culture says “gay” is the only other identifier and they know they’re not gay. I know, it’s really hard to come to terms with an identity/label you’re constantly told doesn’t exist or is at best “temporary” and at worst the punchline of a joke about “college bisexuals.”

I think an argument can be made that as long as ideas like “bi-curious” and “heterflexible” exist that we’re going to be forever locked into the gay/straight dichotomy, that bisexual invisibility will continue to be a problem. Personally, I’m uncomfortable telling someone else how they should identify, but heterflexible just seems like one huge infuriating cop-out.

Photo by Duncan Johnston

it took forever to understand myself

lightbulb[art by Yasutoki Kariya]

The first time I felt arousal was in the arms of a woman.

I don’t remember how old I was. All I know was that it was summer and we were in my best friend’s backyard, playing “War” with her sisters and brother; hiding from the Nazis in the plywood fort her father had built. Huddled underneath the window, we were curled up against imaginary blasts and shrapnel, and she was holding me.

I could feel her lips against my hair, and suddenly, I forgot what we were doing and where we were. It . . . felt so good. Blissful. And for those moments, before our characters made a run for it to the “cellar,” I melted into her arms and never wanted to leave. It was like stepping into a hot shower and feeling the water cascade over me. I felt shivers, and goosebumps . . . but I didn’t understand what was happening. I had no words to explain what I was feeling. I had never heard the word arousal, had no context for desire.

For years I treasured that memory, although I have never admitted what I felt that day to anyone.

For years I was frightened, terrified, sickened at the thought that I might be a lesbian. I ferociously tamped those thoughts down, but as years passed and I never had a crush on a boy, the fear increased. What was I supposed to do? Every time we had a sleepover and we were in the same bed, or cuddled up next to each other on the floor in her family’s living room watching a John Wayne or Roy Rogers movie, I fought, desperately, against what I wanted to feel, wanted to think. I found excuses to touch her, to brush my fingertips against her skin, to play with her silky-soft chocolate hair. I wanted to be with her. But I couldn’t. I could never say that, never tell her, never do anything. The want would sit on my tongue, trying to burst out of my lips; desire was an ache I could never acknowledge existed.

For years I was in love with my best friend, and I had no idea.

When I went to summer camp and met a cute boy from Texas that made my heart do pitter-patter flip-flops, I was ecstatic. Over the moon. The relief was bone-deep. Good good good I’m not a lesbian thank God. I threw myself into that crush, but it inevitably fizzled and I grew desperate again. My prayers became fixated on finding a man who I could be with. All through high school I tried, fiercely, to “like” boys the way my girlfriends did. That all the young men around me compelled nothing except disgust and revulsion I attributed to a dislike of “Southern preacher boys,” which was the only kind of man I knew.

When I was 17, I went back to summer camp, and met the most bizarre person ever. In a conversation one day about relationships, he told me that he’d dated both men and women, and I was hopelessly confused. I asked him how that was possible, and his response was “I’m bisexual.”

“Bi– what? What does that even mean?”

“It means I’m attracted to both men and women. I bat for both teams,” he laughed.

Something inside of me perked up, curious and interested. That sounded . . . familiar. I instantly slammed the door in my mind, refusing to acknowledge that feeling of recognition.


My freshman year in college I had a fledgling crush on a boy that I nurtured with more passion than was probably healthy, especially considering I didn’t really want to spend my life with him and I knew any relationship between us would be disastrous. But every time I walked into my bathroom and saw my suitemate in nothing but lacy lingerie I tried to think of that boy.

My junior year, when I was roommates with one of the most gorgeous women I’ve ever seen, I reacted by throwing myself into a ill-fated relationship with John*, trying to block out images of her getting dressed, of watching her curl her hair and put on makeup and get ready for bed.

When I cuddled with my best friends on a Sunday afternoon, studying and taking naps together in mounds of fuzzy blankets and pillows, I blocked out anything that told me that what I felt around my friends was something different. All girls think and feel this way, I told myself confidently, ignoring fantasies and dreams that woke me up in the middle of the night.

I didn’t give a thought to how, every year, the women in my prayer groups knew that if they wanted I would massage their shoulders and play with their hair. I paid no attention to how much I loved it when my friend put her head in my lap and we would read together while I ran my fingers through her hair– it never occurred to me that what I was feeling was . . . not very straight.

I only had one way of framing sexuality: either you were straight, or you were gay, and being gay was sinful, evil, wicked. That young man who’d told me he was “bisexual” was making it all up– he was gay, but trying to deny it by saying he liked women, too. I couldn’t be gay, because I knew that I liked men, that I fantasized about men, that I wanted to be in a straight relationship. The thought of sex with a man turned me on, so everything I noticed about women? It was nothing. Women are just beautiful, and I’m a person that appreciates beauty. That’s it. That’s all it can be. That’s all I’d let it be.

In the last year, I’ve slowly come to terms with this reality. It was a slow process, and involved a lot of me going back and looking at experiences I had from girlhood onward and dismantling all the lies I’d told myself for years. I admitted that the first time I’d ever been in love, I had been in love with a girl. I acknowledged that what I felt for my roommate wasn’t just an aesthetic, objective appreciation of beauty, but attraction and desire– and I was lying when I tried to tell myself otherwise. At first I thought of myself simply as “queer,” because, after all, I ultimately fell in love with and married a man, and I had never given serious thought to being in a relationship with a woman– or so I believed at the time.

I don’t know why I fought so hard against being honest with myself. I didn’t even really come up with this on my own– it was my partner who pointed out a lot of this to me, who helped me come to terms with all of my memories of being in love with and attracted to women. He helped me admit that over the course of my life I’ve been attracted to women far more often than I’ve been attracted to men, and that this is ok, and he loves this about me.

I spent over a dozen years being terrified of this part of who I am, of doing everything I could to avoid facing myself honestly– but I’m done with that.

I’m bisexual.

And not only is that ok, and not only do I accept this– I think it’s wonderful.