My Coming Out Was An Easter Experience

It is always a joy to emerge from the forty days of Lent with its emotional climax of Holy Week into the light and life of Easter. During Eastertide, my heart lifts with every greeting and response of “Christ is risen—He is risen indeed!”

As I have rested this year in the promise of new life after Easter, I made, for the first time, the connection between my experience of coming out as bisexual and my sense of Easter. 

When I was a young adult, there were only two choices: heterosexual and homosexual. “Gay” and “straight” were yet to become common in our language.

One summer during college, I was a counselor at a summer camp. Another counselor who didn’t like me spread a rumor that my best friend and I were lesbians. I knew I treasured my longtime friend; I also knew I didn’t love her.

During seminary, I could have loved one of my closest women friends though I had no words for the feelings I experienced with her as I was swept up in the energy sparked by a thrilling romance with a male student whose passion flared and died one spring. Being awash in feelings like this—feelings conscious and unconscious, articulate and inarticulate—marked early adulthood for me.

These experiences planted in my mind the question, “What am I?”

Meanwhile, I married a wonderful man, we built a family together, and the words shifted to “gay” and “straight.” I served as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I knew myself as a straight ally during the on-going controversy through the 1980s in the PCUSA over the place of gay men and lesbian women. These were the only choices until the early 1990s.

When I look back on this time now, it feels like a kind of wilderness wandering. Occasionally, I would feel drawn to a woman, but still in a way that I was unable to articulate or even perceive. Through participating in pro-LGBT activity in the PCUSA, I had some good lesbian friends by this time and I listened carefully to how they spoke of their feelings.

I remember walking our dog one afternoon pondering deeply whether I might be a lesbian.

I weighed my love for my husband with what I could express then as sometimes feeling drawn to a woman. I compared myself to the experiences shared by lesbian women. As I ended my walk, I concluded that what lesbians described just did not correspond to what I was experiencing. I couldn’t figure it out. What I had to do, then, was “live the question.”

I returned to this internal conversation many times while the years passed and the language of “LGBT” became standard in church advocacy work. Then one day in 1997, I was standing in the line for lunch at Taco Bell, admiring a woman ahead of me. I suddenly named that admiration to be a feeling of attraction and the click in understanding came that I am the “B” in LGBT.

I am bisexual – in that I have the capacity to love either a man or a woman.

As a married Christian woman, I have always taken my vow of faithfulness seriously. At the same time, I knew I was no different from other faithful married women whose hearts flutter at the sight of Sean Connery or Denzel Washington.

That I found a woman attractive wasn’t a cause of alarm. If anything, it was a tremendous relief – bringing to consciousness what had been outside my range of vision for too long.

I went home and told my husband, “I finally figured it out. I’m bisexual.” And he said, “That sounds just about right as I know you.” Surely it gives a good measure of my husband and of the love that grew in our marriage that this never disturbed him or ruffled the waters of our family in any way. Step by step, I came out to our sons, to our wider family, and to my church as it seemed appropriate.

Lent had ended. In that fast food line, the wholeness of Easter had come for me.

Some years later, I participated in the writing of Ten Affirmations of GLBT Spirituality. Through these affirmations, I committed myself to “support each person’s journey of integrating spirituality and sexuality which leads to wholeness.” I knew that wholeness is what I experienced when I found the way to accurately understand my whole self as well as to describe myself to the world.

My years of confusion and questioning about my sexual orientation were very much a Lenten journey through the land of my soul. Realizing who I am—a bisexual—was as freeing and life giving as Easter.

I am very glad that the words are available now so that people are less likely to wander for as long as I did on a search for the wholeness that comes with knowing clearly what you are. I am also glad that our words continue to evolve for there is so much more of our whole selves for us to discover and share with the world.

This year I have come to see that Easter is the moment Jesus entered into His whole, eternal self.

I can now dwell in this joyous harmony of Eastertide, knowing myself to be whole in body and spirit. Thank God.

Photo via flickr by minomap

Comments (6)

I am a Eastern Rite Orthodox Catholic monk and Bisexual activist in Chicago and President of Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago.... It helps humble me... I am not alone. "Amen to that!"

Michael, I am very glad that this telling of my story helped you know that you are not alone. Perhaps that is another aspect of Easter--Jesus' resurrection assures us that we are not along. God and other believers are with us always. I heard recently that research is showing that bisexuals outnumber the total of rest of the queer community combined. And many of us are Christian. No, we are not alone. Peace, Janet

I loved reading your story. The way you describe your bisexuality as being no different from a straight woman who also finds herself attracted to men she's not married to is exactly how I think of my vows of faithfulness within marriage, too. I was single when I discovered I was bisexual, so when I got married, I was very clear in my mind that I was commiting myself to one *person*, and not to one sexual orientation. I'm faithful because I promised to be faithful, not because marriage "turned" me straight. It's affirming to hear this echoed in someone who came to the realization of her bisexuality within the context of marriage. I'm so happy that you were able to share this with your husband when you discovered it about yourself, and that he responded so supportively. Sounds like he had enough trust in you and your union not to be threatened. :)

Although I am not religious in terms of dogma, or beliefs. I am "spiritual curious" so to speak. But unlike that I know, only in the last few years, that I am pan-sexual and like you. It was a relief to finally, /fully/ accept that. From the first stirrings of 'what the hell is wrong with me?', as I admired the cheerleaders more than the jocks on the football team in high school, in a conservative Appalachian culture, to my sophomore year in collage when I meant a wonderful, self-confidant pan-sexual woman. Who showed me what I was feeling was not wrong, but just different, to finally in 2010 when I shed all of the anger, self-hatreds, and other poisons of my mind. A slow journey of 33 years.

When I read your story, I smiled and thought."Thank god, there is ones like me. Who shed what society thinks is correct. No more 'Barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen for a man' thinking. Now even some of the Church is starting to change, and that really is a wonderful feeling.

Yes it is nascent, but humanity IS growing up, and I only wish I was in the 22ND century when this stupidity - hopefully - will have been long past for us. We got though racism even if there is some who want cling to that insanity. I have said many times, "The Fred Phelps, and Richard Girnt Butler's of society do not matter." Ultimately they will be buried in the dustbins of history, long forgotten. While good people, such as Mother Teresa, and Dr. King's name will live on."

Give my best to your husband, and children.

I am a 51 y/o bisexual woman. I have known I was different since before puberty, the "B" has defined me since the 80's. I've had two long-term relationships, one with a hetero man, who knew and was not threatened, and the other with a lesbian woman, who was not so comfortable with it.

Although I never really hid inside the closet, there were areas of my life where I tiptoed around the edges of the doorway. Specifically the maternal side of my family (very catholic) and work.

It has only been in the last year that I have truly stepped through that closet door and said like it or not, this is me. What helped was finding a church, Sunshine Cathedral MCC, and the sense of community it has to offer. Having people in my life that are accepting, and a church that believes as I have believed in my heart my entire life, have given me a turning point.

But I still find myself defending against the opinions of “you just haven’t made up your mind yet” or “you just haven’t met the right [fill in the gender]”. And I have actually been asked that from within the GLBT community. Even better is being asked how I can define myself as bisexual if I am in a relationship. Aren’t I “hetero” if I am with a man or “lesbian” if I am with a woman, that if I still say I am bi that means I will be unfaithful, refusing to understand that my sexuality does not define my fidelity and trustworthiness. My ex-girlfriend being a prime example, she was really insecure about me being around any men, saying she was afraid one lure me away. She refused to understand that translated to a lack of trust in me.
Several weeks ago I went out for a meal with a couple of the women from my church, lesbians. During dinner I shared openly and honestly about myself. And related how hurtful it was when our own community treated the “B” in GLBT like the freckle faced step child. Near the end of the meal one of the ladies paused, took a deep breath, and admitted she probably owed a few people apologies, because she had done what I was describing to other self-defined “B”’s.
My point is this. Hearing someone else sharing so freely, and without reservation, gives me hope. Even within our community there are biases that need to be aired out and cleaned up.

Thank you for sharing your story and consider yourself blessed in the acceptance you found with your husband (does he have any single brothers or sisters?) and the others in your life.

I am still trying to figure myself out and am trying to find my place with faith and church in the process as well but I guess for the time being the easiest label to put on me is to say I am a gay man.

It's really great to read stories of people of faith talk openly about their sexuality and how that works with their spirituality. It's a complete change from how I grew up in the 90's there was only one message: You're straight or you go to hell. Because of this message I shut myself off from faith and church. I said if there's no place for me here then atheism is the way to go.. of course my coming to atheism involved more factors than that but it's certainly what set me on that path..

Now my walk through life has brought me back around to exploring faith this time as an adult and knowing I can't separate my sexuality from myself anymore than I can separate from my shadow and it's very helpful to read stories like this and understand that you can be part of the LGBT community AND be a person of faith and part of a church community. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

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