Labels and Sexual Orientation

Pansexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a potential aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for anybody, including people who do not fit into the gender binary of male/female implied by bisexual attraction.

The more I meet amazing gender non-binary people and understand more about the gender spectrum (I knew almost nothing about non-binary genders a year ago), the more I realize how little gender affects who I like to be around and who I could potentially fall in love with. Until recently I identified as bisexual because that’s what I felt best described my attractions, but now I think pansexual is more accurate. It’s interesting seeing how my understanding of myself has deepened and changed over the years; for most of my life I thought I was straight, then I was very tentatively bi-curious, then last year I came out officially as bi. Now I’ve been out as bi for almost a year, and I’m realizing it’s no longer the best fitting label.

I love finding out new things about myself. But coming to terms with changing my label yet again took me a little while. When my beliefs officially changed a few years ago, so many major labels changed for me in a seemingly short period of time- Christian to atheist, conservative to mostly liberal (in American politics), Pro Life to Pro Choice, Pro-Traditional Marriage to Pro-LGBTQ rights… People were confused and angry and hurt because I wasn’t the same person to them anymore. Labels meant everything to many of them, and they saw me as having changed “sides” in a culture war instead of simply growing and maturing as an adult. And since I hadn’t felt comfortable confiding these emerging changes to most people because I knew they’d react negatively, all they saw was the end result and not the process.

I was accused of being easily changeable and flighty, even though I had put much thought and time into every one of those changes. I’m not actually easily changeable at all; I’m just open to changing things as my knowledge and experience show me better ways to think or act or identify. But I think that negative association with changing labels stuck with me, and the idea of making yet another change made me hesitant to acknowledge it.

Plus, I’ve gone through SO many changes these past few years I was like “Really?! Another one already? Seriously, this self-growth stuff is exhausting…”

But as with all these many other changes, my curiosity and desire to be the best and most authentic version of myself made it impossible for me to ignore my changing mindset for long. So I’m making it official- I’m pan, not bi. And I’m feeling good about it.

But man, now I have to once again update my bio on my blog and on fet and on Facebook and Pinterest and likely several others too… Meh I’ll get to them all eventually. lol

‘Great Precaution Not To Offend A Minister’: Couple Denied Marriage Explains Why They Chose A Judge (link)

“We took great precaution not to offend a minister — that’s why we went to a judge to get married, never dreaming that he couldn’t follow the law,” Wilson told WTOL. “That he wouldn’t follow the law.”

“To go through that experience when it’s not pleasant and singles you out at a time in your life when you’re celebrating the fact that you have the same right as everyone else, it’s just not good. I don’t want anyone else to go through it,” she added.

But of course, the religious right will never be satisfied. Most same-sex couples who want to marry aren’t asking clergy members they don’t know to marry them, to avoid awkward situations and out of respect for their religious beliefs.

But taxpayer employees of the state have, as written above, a legal duty and sworn oath to do their jobs, “faithfully and impartially.”

How much more are same-sex couples supposed to do to appease anti-gay activists and “Christians”?

What more does the religious right want?

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/_great_precaution_not_to_offend_a_minister_couple_denied_marriage_explains_why_they_chose_a_judge

So what more can we do? This couple specifically didn’t go to a church in order to not offend any clergy, and they were STILL faced with a religious person who refused to marry them, even though it was literally his job to do so.

This is the next stage of the LGBTQ movement for equality- making sure that state officials actually obey the law. State officials are NOT entitled to refuse service to anyone because of their personal beliefs- they are obligated to represent the law, not themselves, even when they personally disagree with the law. Any government official that cannot represent the law consistently should find a new profession, since they’re unable to fulfill their most basic duties which they swear to uphold.

When the Hateful Accuse Us of Hatefulness (link)

I almost cried reading this article. We’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to share our anger and our stories about the hurt we’ve endured and still endure. We’re allowed to point out oppressive attitudes and actions when we see it. We’re allowed to express our anger and hurt even if it makes our oppressors uncomfortable. After all, their momentary discomfort at our expressions of joy and pain is nothing compared to the generations of oppression they have inflicted and still inflict upon us.

Just because we won this single battle doesn’t mean the fight for equality is over, nor does it erase the unimaginable harm they’ve done to us in the name of “love”. We’re allowed to make sure that our immense struggles are not forgotten or toned down to make our oppressors feel better about themselves. It is not hateful for us to show them how they’ve hurt us, to make them aware of the damage they’ve caused and are still causing. It is not hateful for us to be angry at the terrible way we’ve been treated, or to celebrate a victory over their oppression of us. It is not hateful to recover from oppression and live our lives in ways that our oppressors dislike. 

Although I personally don’t agree with the term “fundagelical” to describe anti-gay Christians (I find it unnecessarily abrasive and would personally use another term), after how I’ve been treated and my LGBTQ friends have been treated and countless generations of LGBTQ people have been treated, I think a strongly worded article in reply is more than justified.

But I’m not going to play nice here: the Christians opposing LGBTQ rights have rivers of blood flowing down their hands.

Every single demand that we shut up, give them “respect” (again, meaning: silence and an allowance to keep acting as if they won rather than lost), and stop being “hateful” is being made while they peek at us through bloody fingers. Their hands are so close to their faces that they can’t even see the blood streaming down their wrists.

They have turned their gazes away from the lives they have destroyed, the children they have murdered and abandoned, the bullying they have done, or the constant stream of filthy smears they have made against a marginalized group–marginalized, remember, because of their hateful pseudo-love–that never actually posed a threat to anything of theirs. They can’t see any of that. When this information gets shared with them, they try to silence the messenger–because the message runs so contrary to their crafted and curated self-image. Their emotional paychecks depend on seeing themselves as the “good guys”: the embattled paladins of truth and justice fighting against a monstrous and agelessly-evil enemy. The truth would destroy that image of themselves they hold so dear–and would put into question all the other false ideas they hold. But all of this is their problem and not ours.

Until they wash their hands and get cleaned up, they have no right at all to try to shut anyone up for pointing out their error. We however have every right to talk about that error, and we will continue to do so.

We are not being hateful, and we will not be shamed into silence by those culture-warrior Christians feeling stung over their loss.***

We are not being hateful, any more than they were ever being loving.

Read the whole article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/excommunications/2015/07/when-the-hateful-accuse-us-of-hatefulness/#sthash.C3pGWfEH.dpuf

To My Christian Friends who Oppose Marriage Equality

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. On one hand, marriage equality finally came to the U.S.- although there are still other important areas to be worked on, this was a massive step for LGBTQ equality and that’s wonderful! My first Pride Festival was also a very positive experience; I loved the acceptance and freedom to by myself that I felt there. It was a safe and happy place and I was able to meet other people just like me. I was also very happy to see support from countless Christians in my life this past week- even those that did not personally agree with me were still vocal in their support of my right to choose for myself, and they shared my joy with me even as they stayed true to their own religious beliefs.

But there was another side to this past weekend- Christians who don’t approve of marriage equality did a lot of posting and talking about their feelings on the matter. Of course it’s your right to believe whatever you want and express those beliefs, and I’ll always support that right because freedom can’t be given only to those we agree with- but your words come with consequences. And often it’s other people who have to live with the consequences of words we so causally throw around.

I cried this past weekend. I cried because the way you used your freedom of speech hurt me deeply. You’re not strangers on the internet, people I’ve never met who understandably wouldn’t have as much personal empathy for me. But you are people I know personally, people who claim to respect and care about me. I need to express to you how you’ve made me feel this week, I need you to understand the power of your words to tear people down and push people even farther away from your faith.

1. This isn’t just a simple disagreement.

I disagree with my Christian friends all the time. Our conversations usually look like this:

(Me) “I believe homosexuality isn’t a sin. I don’t believe in sin. Therefore I would marry someone of the same sex if I fell in love with them.”

(Them) “I believe homosexuality is a sin. Therefore I would not date or marry someone of the same gender.”

THAT is a disagreement. We both have our views, we express them respectfully, and neither of us are forcing our views on each other. This, however, is what has been happening with the issue of marriage equality:

(Me) “I believe homosexuality isn’t a sin. I don’t believe in sin. Therefore I would marry someone of the same sex if I fell in love with them.”

(Them) “I believe homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, no one should be allowed to marry someone of the same gender, even if their beliefs say otherwise. I also believe that you are pushing your beliefs on me by even asking to marry someone of the same gender.” religion-505x320

Do you see the difference? You’re not just disagreeing with me, you’re literally telling me that I do not deserve legal freedom to follow my own beliefs if they happen to be different from yours. You want YOUR religious beliefs to be legally enforced on my personal life. That isn’t a disagreement- that is you using your religion to oppress me.

And then, to add insult to injury, you are getting upset at me for even ASKING to be allowed to legally live out my own beliefs, or for pointing out that the way you’re addressing this issue is extremely hurtful and oppressive to the LGBTQ community. My fight for legal equality is presented as an attack on your religious beliefs, even though you’re the ones trying to make me live according to your beliefs and not mine. Me wanting to live out my own beliefs is not an attack on your religious freedom.

When you say we don’t deserve legal equality, you’re saying that we are second class citizens who can’t and shouldn’t make decisions for ourselves. By saying that your personal religious beliefs should trump our personal freedom, that you should dictate how we’re allowed to live our lives, you dehumanize and demean us.

You’re also going against everything our nation stands for, since our nation was literally founding on the idea that all people should be free to follow their own personal beliefs without our shared government promoting any of them over another. The same constitutional clause that unequivocally protects your right to follow your religion also protects me from being forced to follow your religion in any way.

I don’t care what you believe about sin. That’s a matter of personal belief. I may respectfully debate it with you (if we both want to have that conversation), but as long as you’re not shaming, belittling, or mocking me I don’t care what you believe. However- I DO care that you think your beliefs about sin should be enforced and regulated via our shared government, which was founded upon freedom for every American. Freedom and justice for ALL, not freedom and justice for Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians. Your religious freedoms only extend as far as my freedoms begin. I can’t (and wouldn’t!!) force you to marry someone of the same gender or perform same sex marriages, and you can’t (and shouldn’t!!) force me not to.

2. You have dehumanized and mocked me and my struggles.

This week I’ve watched as my Pride symbols have been taken apart, mocked, belittled, and appropriated to support your own cause. Here are some examples:

o-STRAIGHT-PRIDE-facebook10574291_742552252457683_9052486822310658960_n

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Please stop.

The LGBTQ community faces discrimination and persecution that Christians in the United States don’t even come close to understanding. 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ teens and young adults that were thrown out of their homes when they came out of the closet, or that left home in desperation because they couldn’t stand the constant judgment and stigma from their loved ones. Transgender people face a 66% risk of violence or attempted violence, most have been severely bullied or discriminated against, and 41% of them have attempted suicide because of how society treats them. LGBTQ people are regularly assaulted, harassed, and judged in public places in the United States. Many have literally lost their lives, whether because of violence enacted against them or because of suicide after years of unending societal torment. The LGBTQ community faces a high rate of depression because of the stigmas and discrimination they have to endure. BQstZ8vCEAA6IqI

THIS is what these symbols represent. Our struggles, the blood and tears we have shed, and the hope of one day gaining freedom from oppression, societal violence, and unjust laws. Our flags and colors and symbols represent unimaginable struggle, but also courage and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. The rainbow represents HOPE for us, just as it represents hope for you. For us it represents hope that there is beauty after a storm. We can both gain equal and different inspiration from this beautiful manifestation of nature. 

And yet you mock our symbols, manipulate them to promote your own religious agendas, you put our symbolism down to build up your own. And then you wonder why the LGBTQ community gets angry at you?

3. “God will judge our nation for this!” “It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah!”

This is so incredibly insulting. With all the horrible things happening in the world and in the United States, such as sex trafficking and priests sexually abusing children and black churches being burned by racist terrorism, THIS is the issue you think that God will destroy America over? Loving committed relationships will ruin our nation, but the Christian holocaust of Native Americans in our early history didn’t? Our massive slave trade and legalized racism prior to the 60’s didn’t? America’s terrible treatment of the LGBTQ community wouldn’t? If your God would judge America for loving relationships but not these atrocities, then he is an unjust monster that is not worthy of worship.

4. “We win in the end!”

I didn’t see this one specifically on my friends’ posts, but it was certainly being thrown around by a lot of Christians this weekend. Even if you believe this is true, try to see it from our point of view. Your God is going to destroy us anyways in the end, and you’re happy about this? Wow.

5. “One Man One Woman” isn’t just insulting, it isn’t even Biblical.

one_man_and_one_woman_is_a_marriage_shirt-r64bca016ec19467d9304d1d1817ac763_f0yq2_1024This one has long been posted by anti-gay Christians, and a huge number of Christians on my Facebook have been posting them this week. it’s by far been the most popular. But here’s the problem: It’s not even Biblical.

While the Bible may not allow same sex marriages (debated hotly in Christian circles), it certainly DOES allow polygamy, sex slaves (concubines) and treating women like property. The only place that says a man should have a single wife is specifically referring to bishops. This is an issue that Christian missionaries overseas have had to come to grips with, since other nations still embrace polygamy even while also embracing Christ. These missionaries had to acknowledge that the Bible doesn’t actually condemn polygamy, and thus they had no right to condemn the cultural practices of the local people. I studied this when I was in Bible college preparing to be an overseas missionary, and I remember having to reevaluate my idea of what marriage meant in other Christian cultures.

“One man and one woman” is NOT the only type of marriage God allowed in scripture, so these memes are far more indicative of your own personal prejudice than of God’s alleged words. So not only are these memes hurtful because you’re making it clear that our marriages disgust you, but they don’t even match what your own Bible says about the types of marriage that God allegedly condones. i_support_traditional_marriage_pin-rd49d3b1df1b24668a0ff03ad723ca880_x7efx_1024

And as for the memes that state “I support traditional marriage”: “Traditional” doesn’t mean it’s right. Banning interracial marriages was once traditional too. Treating women like property was once traditional. Marrying girls barely out of puberty (or still in puberty) is STILL traditional in many countries. Until 1993, “traditional marriage” included the legal rights of the husband to rape his wife, and not that long ago wives were not allowed to vote or hold their own property. And the Biblical versions of marriage are VERY different than the marriage traditions we hold today.

“Traditional marriage” is a meaningless phrase that can be translated into “We’ve always done it this way, and I don’t want to change it!” Our laws should not be based on tradition, but on what’s fair and just for all citizens. And sometimes that means challenging and changing traditions that shouldn’t have been traditions in the first place.

6. You Were the Catalyst for Me Leaving Christianity.

Not directly, and probably not for the reasons you’re thinking, but it’s true. Years ago, when I was still a Christian, the state of Maine was voting on marriage equality. Although I believed it was a sin at the time, I didn’t think it was right to force any of my beliefs on non-believers, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I had several gay and lesbian friends and I supported and loved them even though I disagreed. However, countless Christian friends on my Facebook were not so empathetic. Most of these Christians were people I went to Bible college with, though there were others from my circles growing up.

The message they sent was clear: They did not respect or love these people. They wanted to force their religion on them, and were not above dehumanizing and degrading them to accomplish this. And not only that, but they started attacking and belittling any Christians who dared to disagree with them. I saw this on one of my friend’s pages: “You can’t be a Christian and support gay marriage!” Really? You’re speaking for God now?

Their hateful attitudes and lack of empathy caused me to question whether or not being gay was actually a sin. After all, Jesus never said the things they were saying. Was this anti-gay attitude really Biblical after all? So I dug deeper into scripture and actually listened to other Christians who believed it wasn’t a sin, and I was shocked. The issue wasn’t as black and white as I’d thought- there were other legitimate ways to interpret those scriptures, similar to how we interpreted verses about slavery.

That day I realized two things that shocked me to my very core- One, my Christian circles only accepted me if I thought just like them, and two, that the church that I had trusted to teach me truth had been wrong on something really important. This last realization caused me to dig into other issues as well. Once I started openly questioning my faith, the questions I’d pushed down for years on many issues all came flooding to the surface. Eventually I wondered whether the Bible was divinely inspired, and realized I didn’t think it was. And then came the biggest question of all: Does God actually exist? My answer surprised me, but it was also comforting too because I no longer had to try to explain away the things that had never made sense to me. I no longer had to struggle with cognitive dissonance.

If these Christians in my life had not been so blatantly hateful towards the LGBTQ community and Christians who supported them, I would probably never have started questioning my faith. If my religion had been a source of love and acceptance instead of division and intolerance that was causing immense pain to LGBTQ people I cared about, I would have had very little reason to question those beliefs. But you made it impossible for me to coast along anymore. You forced me to dig deeper, to ask the tougher questions. And for that I thank you.

I want to clarify that I didn’t leave Christianity because of mean Christians. I’m not foolish enough to judge the validity of an entire belief system on the hurtful actions of some. There are mean atheists too, every group has its good and bad members. Truth is not determined by how people act. However, while your attitudes didn’t directly result in my unbelief, it was the catalyst that caused me to begin openly questioning my beliefs.

I know that converting people to your belief system is important to you, and keeping them in the faith is even more important to you- and the way you’re dealing with this specific issue is turning people away from your faith in so many different ways. For some like me, it was the catalyst that got us questioning our beliefs in general and was thus an indirect cause of our leaving the faith to become atheists or agnostics. For others, the hatred and anger coming from the church made them not want any part of it anymore, so they left the church to follow God in their own way, often joining the ranks of the “nones” who have no specific religious affiliation.

Here’s my point: If you want to get people into your faith, and to stop people from leaving it, then you HAVE to change how you’re addressing this issue. You don’t have to compromise your beliefs on sin to acknowledge that how you’re treating sinners isn’t effective and may not be how God would want you to act.

Conclusion:

I love you all, even those of you who have caused me pain this week. I don’t begrudge you your right to express your beliefs just as I express mine. But I need you to understand that how you’re addressing this issue affects me and the rest of the LGBTQ community. It’s hard to see my friends post and say these things, even as they claim to love and respect me. Saying “I love you!” means little when you’re using your religion to belittle and hurt me. And when I’m hurting, sometimes my filter doesn’t work as well as it should. I’m more apt to passionately comment on those posts trying to make you see how hurtful it is. I’m more apt to share posts that may hurt you in return, things that on a normal day I’d refrain from posting. I’m not excusing any reactions I’ve had that may have gone too far, I’m just saying that I’m not perfect and when my friends act this way it feels like I have to defend my right to even exist in their world. I’m saying that in my pain I sometimes lash out because I just want the pain and judgment to stop, and nobody seems to listen when I say things nicely. I’m doing my best to coexist with you, but some days you make it so damn hard.

I don’t expect any of you to change your beliefs on homosexuality being a sin. I’ve never asked that and never will. But I am hoping that perhaps you’ll find a new, kinder, more effective way to address it, just as you address other sins.

Facts and Myths about Bisexuality

bisexual_typography_by_lentertament-d5hpf51In my last blog post, I officially came out as bisexual. Over the past couple months, I have been doing a lot of research on bisexuality because I’ve had suspicions that I might be bi. But I had a lot of societal misconceptions in my head, so I had to do some research before I felt comfortable identifying as bisexual. I wasn’t sure if that’s who I was, because I didn’t even really know what it was to begin with! So here are some things I’ve learned about being bisexual.

This video also explains bisexuality very well! I’d strongly advise checking it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmwi-475VIM

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  1. You do not have to have sex with or even make out with someone to know if you’re bisexual, or any orientation really. Did you have to have sex to know you were straight? Sexual orientation is about attractions, sexual activity is separate. A nun still has a sexual orientation even if she stays a virgin forever, she just doesn’t act on it. As of the time this article was written, I haven’t dated any women yet- I’ve just finally realized that I’m attracted to them.
  1. Bisexuals are not attracted to everyone. When you walk down the street, are you automatically attracted to every person of the opposite gender that you see? Do you want to date every single opposite-gender friend or co-worker? Of course not- sexual attraction goes far beyond just genitalia! Just because I am friends with a girl or a guy does not mean I want to date them or that I want to imagine them naked. There’s no need to feel weird around me, just treat me like any of your other friends of either gender and we’ll get along just fine.
  1. Bisexuals are often accused of being more unfaithful, promiscuous, or more into threesomes. This is not true. Those traits are completely separate from your sexual orientation- straight people and gay people can also be unfaithful, have a lot of sex, or love threesomes. Do not confuse sexual orientation with a person’s moral character, the amount of sex they have, or the kind of sex they like.
  1. Bisexuals are NOT confused. While there are many people who do experiment for a time to discover what their sexual orientation is, this is different than being bisexual. I’ve tried a lot of different kinds of foods, but I’m not going to love everything I taste. Experimenting to find out what your orientation might be is not the same as being bisexual.
  1. Bisexuals are not greedy. Are you greedy for liking blondes and brunettes? For liking tall and short people? Of course not. That would be foolish to imply. (People really do say this stuff!)
  1. Bisexuals get more dates. Sure, we can date both guys and girls, but many people harbor judgmental attitudes about bisexuals so that sometimes shrinks our dating pool. We do have a more diverse range of potential dates in regards to gender, but we also have to deal with a helluva lot more misconceptions and judgements too.
  1. Bisexuals DO EXIST. I can’t tell you how many people actually don’t believe bisexuals exist. Some say that bi people are really gays that haven’t fully come out yet. Others think they are doing it for attention and actually only like one or the other. Still others think it’s a phase and they’ll “make up their mind” eventually. Nope! Being bisexual is a real orientation, and it’s not your place to tell me who I’m attracted to and who I’m not. You’re not in my head. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
  1. Bisexuals don’t turn straight or gay when they enter a monogamous relationship. Do you stop being attracted to girls with blonde hair just because you marry a brunette? Of course not- you just don’t act on those attractions because you’re in a relationship! If you like black people and white people and you date a black person, do your attractions for white people disappear? No, you’re just not acting on them because you’ve committed to your partner. It’s no different with gender.

tumblr_n1f0ejVsei1rbidupo3_1280Now for the purpose of this blog and my own personal preferences, I’ve been referring to guys and girls. Gender is actually not binary, it’s more of a spectrum, and many people fall more into the middle of the spectrum. Pansexuals are attracted to people across all parts of the spectrum- all genders and sexes. For myself personally, I tend to be more attracted to people who fall on the opposite ends of the gender spectrum, which is why I identify as bisexual as opposed to pansexual (although pansexual could potentially identify me as well, I just feel like bisexual describes me best at this point. I wouldn’t rule out being attracted to a transgender person, etc.) This video explains the difference between pansexuality and bisexuality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv5k9+w6Hpi4&index=13&list=PLTXiNEUzXWKT9xrbU3aUxqYloEL_W-8rr

As with any label that we use to identify ourselves, it’s just a word- we are not limited to these labels, WE define our labels, our labels do not define us; it’s just the words we use to describe ourselves. If you realize that your current label no longer fits you and you find another one that fits you better, it’s ok to use that one. If you don’t identify with any label (and yes there are people like this) that’s ok too.

I am Officially Coming Out as Bisexual

bisexual_by_devilslittlesisterNo, I am not a lesbian. And no, I no longer identify as straight. I am bisexual- and here is what that means.
You probably find yourself attracted to people with dark hair as well as people with light hair. You may also be attracted to tall people and short people, and maybe black people and Asian people as well as white people. And no one thinks that’s weird because we, as humans, are capable of being attracted to more than one kind of person. For bisexuals (and pansexuals and a few more orientations, see my next blog post for more on that), gender is just another factor like skin color or height.

I’ve suspected I might be bi for a little while now, although up until recently I was very unsure about it and it was little more than a suspicion that I mulled over from time to time. Over these past two months I’ve been doing a lot of research into what bisexuality is, and I finally realized that it’s a label that fits who I am.

Why am I being so open about my sexual orientation? Why the public “coming out”? Because it was other people who were “out” and proud that helped me realize who I really am. They gave me the courage to stop ignoring the questions inside of me, to be open about who I am. I want to do the same for other people who might feel bad about themselves for who they are attracted too. (Also, unless you “look gay”, people generally assume that you’re straight. That’s rather irritating, as though being straight is the default setting for everyone. It’s not.)
So why did it take me until my mid-twenties to finally realize I’m bisexual? Here are a few reasons:
1. I was raised with homophobia.
While nowhere near as bad as Westboro, I still grew up around blatant and damaging homophobia. Everyone in my immediate circles was fundamentalist and anti-gay. Homosexuality was decried as unnatural, a sin, a “choice” that you were not supposed to make under any circumstances. I remember going with other Christians to political gatherings as a young child to oppose same sex marriage when it was being voted on in Vermont.

My Christian circles taught me in no uncertain terms that being attracted to someone of the same gender was NOT OK. And not only was it not ok, but it was one of the worst things you could possibly do.

The contradictory message I grew up with was this: We love you and do not judge you. However, if you do not think or act like us, then you are less of a person (ie a sinner, unnatural, deceived by the devil, abomination).
There is no kind or healthy way to tell someone that their sexual attractions are unnatural, sinful, and somehow wrong. It’s still VERY DAMAGING and hurtful, no matter how much “grace” and “love” you try to mix in. No matter how much sugar and spice you add to a bowl of dog poop, it’s still repulsive and unfit to eat at the end of the day because the main ingredient is so crappy (pun intended).
Do you think black people felt better when racist people in the 60’s said things like “We still love you and don’t judge you, we just think your relationship with that white girl is morally wrong and should be illegal.” And what about this one? “We love you- but marrying someone with different colored skin is just unnatural! Why are you CHOOSING to love a person of a different race when it’s so wrong?”
Growing up with messages like these, is it really surprising that it would take me a while to recognize my own sexual orientation and feel comfortable even admitting it to myself? Many people never even get this far because these hurtful messages are so deeply ingrained within themselves that they are never able to overcome them. Fundamentalism causes so much unnecessary shame, guilt, and social pressure to conform to one group’s narrow minded ideas- hence why I speak out against it so much. It’s directly affected me and my ability to grow as a healthy individual.

2. I was good at hiding from myself.
For much of my life I was good at hiding from myself. I didn’t do a whole lot of critical thinking back in the day, I just believed what I was taught because I trusted the people who were teaching me to show me reality and truth. When questions about my beliefs or sexuality came up, I was able to emotionally and mentally bury them before I even acknowledged that they existed at all. Questioning the church’s teachings was bad, so I did what I thought was the spiritual thing and didn’t question anything. Hence it took me into adulthood to question my both religious beliefs and my sexuality.

3. I still had options for attraction before I came to grips with my bisexuality.
I like girls AND boys. Therefore, unlike people who only identify as gay and are not attracted to the opposite gender at all, I wasn’t forced to completely deny myself the joys of being attracted to other people. It wasn’t that I was making a “choice” to only like guys, it’s that one half of my sexual orientation was being repressed. Since I was also strongly attracted to men, it was easier for me to not realize that this part of me even existed.
If you were raised to believe that dating black people was morally wrong and you liked white people too, you might never realize that you have the potential to also be attracted to black people unless you happened to fall in love with someone who had black skin. But the chances are high that, since you wouldn’t even be open to it in the first place, you’d miss opportunities to fall for someone who wasn’t white. Without first overcoming that ingrained racism and widening your mental horizons, it would be very difficult for you to ever realize your potential attraction to black people. It’s the same with people who are attracted to more than one gender identity.

4. Sometimes it takes time to realize who you are.
When I was a kid, I hated onions. I wouldn’t eat even the teeniest piece of onion because I’d convinced myself that onions were gross. Now I absolutely love them- I can’t get enough grilled onions in my food! What changed? As I got older, I tried new things and my tastes changed. Does this mean I wasn’t bisexual before? Not really. Just like with the onions, I simply didn’t realize what I had been missing out on until I actually looked into it more- then I discovered I actually liked it! I have always had the potential to love eating onions, what needed to change was my mental attitude that onions were icky.

In my next blog I will be addressing some of the common myths and misconceptions about bisexuality. I really hope that my family and friends read it so you can understand who I am and who I’m not. Please don’t make assumptions about me and my sexual orientation- take the time to find out the truth instead of relying on any stereotypes you may have been raised with.