LGBT History Month Special: Bi Christian Women Speak Out

This year’s LGBT History Month theme is religion. Our friends at Stonewall sent us over some case studies of their bisexual female Christian supporters…

Samantha Field, 28, is a writer based in Washington DC, USA

Samantha Field“I didn’t hear the word bisexual until after I’d graduated from college. I grew up in the Deep South, attending a Christian fundamentalist cult. All through puberty and high school I was repulsed by the boys in my life, and struggled vainly against the feelings I had for my best friend, the pastor’s daughter. I knew what I felt for her was what I was supposed to feel for boys, and so I spent those years panicking I was lesbian. I prayed, desperately, that God would take those feelings away.”

“Then I went to a fundamentalist Christian college, and my sophomore year I met a boy. I looked into his sky blue eyes and felt my guts twist, my heart quicken, and butterflies flutter. My reaction when I realized I was having my first-ever bona fide crush on a boy was oh thank God I’m straight now. That crush, combined with the either/or way I’d been taught to view sexuality, made it easy to ignore the way I responded to women. A miracle had happened, and all those times I felt faint stirrings and longings for women couldn’t mean anything.

“I eventually graduated and moved on to graduate school. There I bumped into someone who identified as bi. I realized I didn’t know what “bisexual” meant, so I googled it and had a record-scratch of a moment. There are people who are sexually attracted to more than one gender? Oh. Ohhhhh. Wait. No.
Maybe?

Compulsive heterosexuality is a hell of a thing, so it took me a few more years before I fully admitted to myself that I was more than just bi-curious. Understanding that I’m bisexual, that my sexuality isn’t constrained by a false dichotomy, was my first step toward freedom. When I embraced being bi, I embraced a world without boxes. I embraced a faith that isn’t constrained by binaries.

“The religion I was raised in completely and utterly erased the existence of bisexual people. I spent years being tortured and confused because I had no framework for my life. I was more than just lied to—I was shielded from reality, kept blind to the truth that would have eased my pain. Today, Christians still ask me why I bother identifying as bisexual. ‘You’re married to a man, though,’ they’ll say. ‘Isn’t it sort of irrelevant now?’

“What they mean is ‘It makes us uncomfortable to acknowledge you’re not straight. Do we have to?’
I have to fight down frustration and anger every time. Yes, it matters. It matters a lot. The world isn’t as simple as right and wrong, black and white, gay and straight. Being honest about my bisexuality makes that apparent to anyone willing to see.”

Dianna Anderson, is a graduate student at Oxford, with an MSt. in Women’s Studies

DiannaPortrait“I went to the conference without telling my dad what it was. All he knew was that I had a speaking opportunity in Portland and would be gone from Thursday-Sunday. I had a book coming out and he knew I’d be pulled away from town for things like this. What I didn’t tell him was that I was attending the Gay Christian Network conference in Portland, OR, in January 2015.”

“That Saturday, I called him and told him what was going on. I told him who I was—a bisexual Christian who was still his daughter, still his family. After a pause, he told me that no matter what or who I was, he still loved me.

“In the year since, he hasn’t mentioned it once. He understands that when I say I’m going out that I’m not going to necessarily specify which gender. He understands that I have attractions that his faith doesn’t necessarily agree with. But he also understands that I share his faith for the most part and he trusts me to be a mature adult in my own life.

“I was afraid of that conversation, of sharing both my bisexuality and my faith with my conservative father. And I suspect he’s still not quite with it—he probably expects that even though I’m bisexual, I’ll still choose to be with a man—but I know that he loves me in the best ways he can. And my dad’s love for me is a major part of why my faith has been maintained: I know that being a faithful Christian means loving community, and my dad has demonstrated that for me tenfold. His unrelenting love despite not fully understanding who I am is a microcosm of the love I experience through my faith. I know that no matter who I fall in love with, I will be safe and I will be loved and I will be free.”

Alexandra Bolles works as Strategist for Global and US South, at GLAAD

headshawt“Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being? I will, with God’s help.”

“This statement is part of the Episcopal Church’s baptismal covenant, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a promise I made before God, my family, my friends, and my church community when I was 16 years old in order to be received as an adult member of the Church. In the same part of the service, I was also asked if I believed in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the resurrection of the body; if I would live out the Church’s teachings in both my words and my actions; and if I would seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving my neighbor as myself.

“I will, with God’s help.

“This covenant captures all of the things I love the most about the Episcopal Church, all the reasons I am proud to be a Christian, and, perhaps most surprisingly to other people, why my faith is integral to my LGBT advocacy and my pride as a bisexual woman. Justice, peace, dignity, and love for all people—every human being—are given the same weight and placed side by side with belief in the Holy Trinity and the resurrection, which are core aspects of Christianity. Full equality and acceptance may seem like radical ideas in general society—ideas that marginalized people unceasingly commit to making reality—but my church teaches me they are central tenets to my faith, identity, and role as a citizen in the world. In short, if I am not advocating for full justice, I am not keeping my promise to God.

“Episcopalians don’t typically have a ‘fire and brimstone’ image of God, so ‘not keeping my promise to God’ doesn’t invoke in me a fear of a fiery afterlife. Rather, I’ve come to understand God best through the people I met as a teenager active in Episcopal youth ministry, and I feel called to emulate that in my adult life.
I understood God when my older sister told our congregation with tears in her eyes that the Episcopal Church was one of the only places she felt truly loved as a gay teenager in the 1990s.

“I understood God when, like many bisexual women, I would be struggling greatly with anxiety, but my church mentors or youth minister would hold my teenaged, tear-stained, and shaking queer self, and promise me I wasn’t broken, but was in fact both loveable and loved. In a world where bisexual women are disproportionately unlikely to find social support, and are more likely to experience interpersonal violence, the love I was given in my church community for bringing my whole self to the table was radical and welcoming. I understand God when I visit my home parish and see my gay priest and lesbian assistant priest declare loudly and with joy, ‘Alleluia, the Lord is risen.’

“As a Christian, I see the resurrection of the body as an ongoing phenomenon. That is to say, I believe that Jesus was resurrected, yes, but I also believe that we are all capable of being metaphorically resurrected.”

LGBT History Month was founded by educational charity Schools OUT.
Stonewall, the lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality charity, have marked the month by profiling LGBT people of faith. You can learn more at www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbthistorymonth

Want to read more Biscuit interviews with bis about their beliefs, from Muslims and liberal Jews to humanists and pagans? Check out our Interfaith Week Special

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Charlotte Dingle

Charlotte 'Lottie' Dingle is Biscuit's founding editor. When she's not running freelancing for a diverse bunch of clients ranging from Cosmo to Occupy, she enjoys teaching life drawing, discussing life/the universe/everything with her beloved (but smelly) 22-year-old cat, writing flash fiction for her MA course, getting pretentious tattoos, listening to folk music, creating surrealist art, trying to change the world and drinking red wine. Oh, and My Little Pony. Don't forget My Little Pony. Her favourite biscuits are cream crackers (do they count as biscuits?).

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