I’m bisexual and I was raised Evangelical Christian and today I want to talk about how Christian homophobia got in the way of me acknowledging and accepting my bisexuality.
Growing up, the message that I got from the church and from Christian culture around me was that homosexuality was something that you did. Orientation was secondary, if it even existed. Or it was seen as a temptation. So homosexuality was looking at gay porn, having gay sex, kissing boys, fantasizing about men, looking at male underwear models.
The emphasis was always on actions rather than orientation.
It didn’t matter so much if you had a bisexual orientation just as long as you weren’t “committing homosexual acts”. In fact, after I came out, I went to a Christian therapist, he asked if I would go to more therapy to move my attractions closer towards bisexuality. Then, I could just choose to only act on my attraction towards women and not my attractions towards men. When it came to bisexuality, the message that I got was that the only problem were the homosexual parts of it.
Now that I’m out and proudly bisexual I understand that bisexuality isn’t one part gay and one part straight. I’m just 100 percent bisexual.
But this particular type of Christian homophobia defines homosexuality as particular acts and then discriminates against people based upon those actions. Orientation be damned. And so bisexual people and homosexual people both experience this particular type of homophobia.
It took me a little while to figure that out and part of the problem for me was that this particular type of Christian homophobia defined “the sin” of homosexuality as specific actions. And so for me the tension came around my attractions to men, my desires to be with men and so that’s what sucked up all the energy and the focus.
You know when you bite your cheek and it swells up and you keep biting it? Or you hit your hand with a hammer and then any discomfort you might be feeling elsewhere goes away because all you can focus on is the thumb you just hit or the cheek that you just bit. That was sort of, for me, what it was like realizing that I was attracted to guys.
That the “problem” — what I thought was a problem, what I thought might be a place where I was going to sin — sucked up all of my time, energy and focus and I didn’t have time or space to consider any other attractions that I may or may not be experiencing.
Another problem for me was the, “God made me this way, I don’t have a choice” defense of being gay.
One of the most common arguments that I heard for how you know it was okay to be gay or lesbian or transgender and Christian was that God made us this way and we didn’t have a choice and so therefore it must be okay because why would God make us this way if it was only going to be a sin? So my entire world view of it’s okay to be gay, hinged on I don’t have any other options. And then every now and then I would be attracted to a woman and suddenly I would be thrown into crisis because now it felt like I did have a choice or I did have other options. So then maybe I was just supposed to choose women because,
“Oh, I’m attracted to this person so if I could choose that, then it means I’m not stuck being gay and being gay isn’t necessarily a choice then being gay might be a sin”
So it was hard for me to any healthy, meaningful relationship with a person who was causing me to have this existential crisis about the goodness of myself and my LGBTQ friends.
When we talk about how it’s okay to be LGBTQ, I think it’s really important that we remember the experiences of bi, pan, queer folks who sometimes do feel like we had a choice or have a choice.
I now understand that when it comes to this idea of choosing, it’s often framed as choosing between genders, but really the choice is between fracturing yourself or between wholeness. Regardless of who bi+ people choose to be in a relationship with at any given moment or choose to have sex with, we shouldn’t have to choose between our queerness, our bi-ness and our Christian faith.
As a bi person it’s important to remember that bisexual people can be affected by biphobia and homophobia. That it’s important that we notice and name and work against the particular ways we’re targeted because of our bisexuality, because of biphobia and it’s also important to notice the ways in which we’re affected by homophobia and work in solidarity with our homosexual peers because we’re all part of one big queer family.