Discovering Bisexuality as a Spiritual Calling

Last year, I ordered the book Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith because I realized I still had some things to come to terms with in regards to my sexuality and my faith. I wanted to continue writing and speaking about the intersection of queerness and Christianity in my life, but I couldn’t keep doing that until I more than occasionally believed that my bisexuality had a purpose besides making my life more complicated. A little bi-centric reading seemed like the best starting place if I wanted to eventually be able to make space within myself to let my spirituality positively color my views of my sexuality just as I’d let my sexuality positively color my understanding of my faith.

When I bought that book, I wasn’t really thinking about my calling; I only wanted to find a better way of looking at the relationship between my bisexuality and my Christianity. But the more I read, the more I felt like that anthology had answers to questions about my calling I’d been asking since I stood at the altar of my church at seventeen and tried to understand what one of our pastors meant when she’d told me, “God has called you to push past the fear and speak up.” Questions I’d faced anew my last semester of college when I wrote YA short stories about Black queer Christian teenagers for my senior thesis and first got the sense that writing was a part of my God-given purpose. Questions I kept trying to bury every time someone used the word calling in reference to my life.

As I read about other bisexual people of faith finding spiritual beauty in their bisexuality and embracing the places where their sexuality and faith intermingled and even became inseparable, I began to consider that my bisexuality might be a crucial part of my spiritual journey. I looked back at all the moments that had made me feel most connected to the calling I’d received as a teenager and noticed my bisexuality was somehow always there. Teaching me how to speak the truth again and again even when I was terrified. Expanding my definitions of love and justice until I understood who and what to speak up for. Giving me the perspectives and connections necessary to write and discuss intersectionality in ways that were healing not only for me but also for others.

In that light, it suddenly didn’t feel blasphemous to admit that maybe God had wanted me to be bisexual all along.

Maybe when God called me at that altar, They were envisioning the life I was slowly living into as a bisexual writer and public speaker. Maybe, my bisexuality had been a part of God’s plan from the very beginning even before I knew it was part of me. Maybe, God hadn’t simply allowed me to be bisexual but had ordained it.

 

Coming to view my bisexuality in this way has not answered all of my questions about my sexuality or my calling. But it has made space for me to consider the idea of calling in a broader way and to provide a much more personally resonant answer to the unfortunately enduring question, “Do you believe you were born that way or do you believe your sexuality is a choice?”

Whereas before I struggled to give a concise but accurate response to that question, now I can answer resolutely, “I believe I was called into my bisexuality” and then relish in the sight of people wrestling as I have and as I still am with all the things that can and does mean.

Angélique

A Black Woman’s Thoughts on (White) Women’s Spaces

When I enter women-only spaces that are predominantly white, in person or online, small or large, I remember moments like the time a white woman asked me whether I thought the challenges Black female leaders in the military face were due to racism or sexism or both as if I could neatly divide the effects of racism and sexism on Black women. I remember white women in a class on human diversity and social interaction co-opting a discussion on racism with sobs about their guilt over their privilege while the handful of Black students in the room sat silent and impassive watching the Black adjunct allow it to happen. I remember growing up in small, predominantly white Christian schools where white girls who called themselves my friends told me directly and indirectly that I wasn’t Black enough to enjoy Black culture or alternatively that Blackness was something that anyone could put on to add entertainment to a space and thus shouldn’t be an important differentiating factor between my view of the world and theirs. I remember, and I am immediately fatigued at the thought of being in a space where any of those moments (or similar moments) could happen again.

That is why women’s spaces are not inherently safe or healing for me. Too often, generic women’s spaces (i.e. spaces not specifically for women of color/Black women) have been draining and silencing. They have made me fear speaking my truth because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or ruin my interracial friendships. And when I have dared to speak my truth despite my fears, they have made more space for white women to speak out of their entitlement than for me to speak out of my personal experiences.

I wanted for so long to believe that intentional women-only spaces, especially feminist ones, were near utopias where regardless of race, class, ability status, sexual orientation, etc. women could bond in universal womanhood and be protected from the oppression of mainstream society, especially in the form of patriarchy. But the more time I’ve spent in predominantly white women’s spaces, the more deeply I’ve understood how unjustified that belief was. White women are just as likely as white men to put their interests, wants, and needs ahead of the needs, wants, and interests of Black women. In the past three years, I’ve seen white women turn the aftermath of almost every racism-based tragedy in America into a moment to prioritize their feelings about race relations over Black women’s (and honestly Black people in general). I have seen numerous white women discuss feminist issues without making even a small space to consider how race plays into those issues. And each time these things happen, I have found myself alternating between staying silent or treading ever so carefully with my words lest I shatter the glass cage of white fragility protecting women’s spaces.

That is tiring work, and I am finally fed up with it. I have been disappointed by predominantly white women’s groups too many times to keep hoping for the best. At least, for now. Which is why I’m taking a break from these spaces in person and online. Not because I hate white women or because I don’t think I can form any honest, deep emotional connections with them. Not because I don’t believe any good can come from predominantly white women’s spaces. But because I’m at a point in my life where I can neither be silent in the face of white entitlement nor waste the precious emotional resources I have fighting white privilege in spaces I sought out for rejuvenation.

God truly bless the Black women who have the energy to fight that fight. I don’t expect to be joining their ranks any time soon.

Angélique

Holiness, Bisexuality, and (Un)Belief

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, two-spirit people are good and holy, and made in the image of God. Our lives and our loves are good and holy. - Rev. Lura Groen

For as long as I have acknowledged any aspect of my bisexuality, I have doubted. I have doubted the rightness of claiming a non-heterosexual label as a Christian. I have doubted the ability of my friends and family to love me if I fully embraced a bi identity. I have doubted the validity of a sexuality which fluctuates at will like mine. And most consistently, most heartbreakingly, I have doubted the goodness and holiness of bisexuality and consequently of myself.

While I never accepted the ignorance-fueled arguments from my fundamentalist Christian high schools that my queerness made me worthy of damnation, I also did not accept that there wasn’t something imperfect about that queerness. Something brought about by sin entering the world. Something which needed to be sanctified before I could truly be considered holy in the sight of the Lord. I sought out that sanctification through suppression. By pretending I wasn’t attracted to all the pretty girls I saw, and when that failed, vowing to never act on that attraction, I thought I could make myself into the good Christian girl I needed to be.

But suppression didn’t make me feel holy and neither did holding onto the notion that God viewed people with same-gender attractions as inferior to those with different-gender attractions, so I prayed for a new way. I prayed that God would show me the fullness of Their love and how it applied to same-gender loving people, and God answered my prayer by putting me on a journey that led to my coming out a year and a half later which led to my connecting with the bisexual community online and eventually joining the LGBTQ+ group on my Christian college campus and writing about queer Christian  experiences and embracing a fully affirming theology by the time I graduated college.

But still, doubt lingers.

No matter how many blog posts and essays I write about bisexuality. No matter how often I educate friends and acquaintances about what it means to be bisexual. No matter how many times I tell young people that I prefer to say I was called into my bisexuality rather than born into it. I still struggle with the idea that it is inherently a good, holy space to live my life.

Acquiring an affirming theology didn’t remove the doubt from my life. It just shifted it. Now instead of doubting that same-gender attractions are holy, I worry that multi-gender attractions (MGA) are not. I worry that identifying specifically as bisexual is less holy than identifying as any of the other MGA labels. I worry that God could not bless something as inconsistent as my bisexuality.

In the midst of these doubts, I still share quotes like Lura Groen’s. I still write about the beauty of bisexuality in Christian and otherwise spiritual contexts. Because I am still praying for expansive understandings of God and love and holiness. Because I want to believe that part of the holiness of being bi lies in learning to live with doubt. Learning to carry doubt and belief simultaneously like the father who cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24, NRSV)

I believe that my life and love can be holy.

Lord, help my unbelief.

Angélique

To Be Black, Queer, and Female

CW: references to Orlando massacre, general references to racism, sexism, queerphobia, transphobia, and related evils

My people are dying.

Every month, every week, every day – whether mainstream news outlets report it or not – my people are dying. Black and Brown people dying. Queer and trans people dying. Women dying.

And I am afraid.

I am afraid that one day one of my safe spaces will be violated and turned into a place of horror and grief. I am afraid that one day I will read a tragic news article and one of my friends will be listed as a victim. I am afraid that the wrong person will learn that I am queer or that my friends are trans and attack us. I am afraid that the police will one day see me or my friends or my family as a threat and find ways to justify murdering us. I am afraid that the men throughout my neighborhood who I think of as less than friends but more than acquaintances will feel so entitled to my body that my rejection of their advances will result in my murder.

I am afraid that fear will become the only constant I know.

And in the midst of those feelings, I am livid. Because no one should have to live with that kind of fear. No one should have to live with the terror and sorrow that take root in your heart when you see time and again there is no safe place for your people. No church, no club, no concert, no party, no theater, no school, no place at all that you can go and exist with the certainty that you will leave alive and whole.

I am livid because it makes no sense to me that other people cannot accept us – people of color, queer and trans people, women – as people worthy of respect and life. How dare anybody use their disturbing ideology to deny us our most basic human right – the right to simply live! How dare anybody seek to make us afraid! How dare anybody desecrate our bodies and our sacred spaces!

I am livid and I am afraid and I am sad and sometimes I am even hopeless because this cycle of fear and anger and grief seems to be my plight as a Black bisexual woman living in America in 2016 and I don’t know how to make it stop. I don’t know how to keep my people safe. I don’t know how to keep myself safe.

All I know how to do is keep writing and speaking my truth. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t feel like much, but I have to believe that being fully accountable to my truth through writing and through oral sharing will in some way counter the hatred and ignorance that is killing people like me. Because there has to be something beyond this harrowing cycle.

I want to keep writing until we reach that something.

Angélique