Always The Stranger: Being Out And Bi

by Rev . Dr. Janet Edwards

I’ve been out as bisexual to myself and my world for about fifteen years, acknowledging that I am able to love both men and women. One of the things I have learned through these years is that being out as bi tends to make me a stranger across the spectrum of sexual orientation.

I become a stranger to my straight friends when it strikes them that I am not exactly like them.

Not what they had thought. They assume that my marriage to my husband means that I am straight. Suddenly finding out that I am not is often a confusing shock. Many have never heard the word “bisexual.” They may use the term “LGBT,” but have never stopped to think what the “B” and the “T” mean.

One pastor friend invited me to have coffee after he heard from someone else that I am bi. He wanted to warn me that adultery is one of the Ten Commandments. He cared enough about me to speak to me. He assumed that I had to be promiscuous because I identify as bisexual. When I figured out what he was talking about, I assured him that I am faithful to my husband. I realized that when he had learned I’m bi, I had become a stranger to him, and it took this conversation to keep our friendship going. Suddenly, I had to explain myself and, sadly, reassure a friend that his new awareness of my being bi did not mean I was any different than I had always been – faithful, committed, myself.

When I came out, I also became a stranger to my lesbian and gay friends.

For one thing, I was no longer in the “straight ally” box. I was in the “bisexual” box now. That shift took some time for some of them to absorb.

Many gay men and lesbian women identify for a time as “bisexual,” as Justin Lee has described in his book, Torn. Sometimes for Christians, this identification supports a hope that they will fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, thereby pleasing God, their loved ones and their church. Many lesbians and gay men suspect bisexuals of fooling themselves. Sometimes they are right, other times not. It takes some sorting out; it did for me.

In the meantime, I am a stranger to them.

And there may be some resentment to work through. After all, I have chosen the far easier road of marriage with a man, which means I can choose to pass as straight. I benefit from all the privileges that straight people take for granted in this world. I understand the feelings of bisexual friends whose spouses are their same gender. I see the hardships they face that I don’t. It makes sense to me that they, when they claim lesbian or gay with their beloveds, they may have some things to work through with me since they face challenges I can avoid. This can make me a stranger and a difficult one at that.

I confess I do not have much experience in the bisexual community. There are many online possibilities. I have only explored them a little. I don’t know if there is an active community where I live. Sharing our identity together as bi can be comforting but, beyond that, we can have very different ideas about how to live our lives.

Bisexuals are not like the gay and straight communities where people are naturally drawn to one another based on clear orientation identities. Within the bi community, we can feel like strangers to one another since we could be either this or that, even to each other.

What, then, does always being the stranger mean for me?

The Bible speaks with one solid voice about the special place of the stranger in the heart of God. Deuteronomy 10 describes God as the One who loves the stranger and requires us to do so also, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” And Jesus insists the righteous are those who welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35).

Being the stranger assures me of God’s love in a way that both consoles and empowers me. I find it inspires in me special care for others precious to God—the poor, the imprisoned, the orphan, the sick, the oppressed.

I have come to understand that I am only a stranger until I reach out my hand—get to know others with a readiness that allows them to get to know me. We can discover we are all beloved children of God together.

While I always begin as a stranger, there is also always the possibility of being a stranger no more.

Photo via flickr Lee J Haywood

Comments (10)

Daniel Swartz

Rev Janet,
Rev Janet,
I have been out for more than 30 years. During that time God has guided me away from labeling others and toward just loving the person in front of me. Over the past two years I have come to know and love Joy and her spouse Stacy. Joy recently completed seminary and is seeking her first calling as a professional minister. After being married to a man and having two children, she was in a long term lesbian relationship. Now is in a committed married relationship with Stacy. Stacy is physically male sex, but is dual gender. Many times he feels male and presents as male, but she also sometimes feels female and presents as female. He is strictly hetero. They are obviously deeply in love and faithful to each other.
Knowing them has been such a blessing for me and many others, not just because they have taught us labeling others is wrong, but also because they both are such sweet spirited people. I’m sure people that don’t know them consider them both strangers.
In my opinion you are a stranger only when someone chooses to make you one. We are all God’s children.
Thank you for sharing your journey.

Janet Edwards

Dear Daniel,
Dear Daniel,
Thank you so very much for your sharing your experience with Joy and Stacy. Your affirmation of greeting everyone as a beloved child of God strengthens me in this spiritual discipline.
Peace, Janet


I have recently come to
I have recently come to believe that I am somewhat bisexual, and have been very afraid of taking that label for myself for fear that “real” LGBT people will think I’m a poser, someone who wants to be something neat, something different, taking a label that does not belong to me. So this article has helped me a bit, I think. Thanks 🙂

Janet Edwards

Dear Shrimp,
Dear Shrimp,
It will surely be a great day when we get past labels and simply welcome getting to know another person in their uniqueness. I am very glad my experience has helped you on your journey. You are very welcome.
Peace, Janet


Thank you for this. I am
Thank you for this. I am bisexual as well, and identify greatly with all that you describe. My husband and I are mistaken for straight allies, and I had to correct someone at our recent Pride festivities for fear that during his time on stage he would tell folks to go visit his booth where the straight family was volunteering! He was gracious when I told him we were both bi and our tween was still figuring things out, and he apologized for making assumptions. I’ve been out for several years to those that matter, and have told friends along the way on a need-to-know basis, but my husband recently came out quite publicly in an effort to minister to GLBT youth and set a precedent in his male-dominated field. We are a Christian, committed, monogamous couple, but we both realize and acknowledge our ability to be attracted to and love others of the same gender – but not right now or for the foreseeable future because of our marriage to each other.

Jamie Grimes

You are most welcome in my
You are most welcome in my world!


This is awesome.
This is awesome.


I’ve recently come out to
I’ve recently come out to select members of my family and told them about the wonderful woman I am dating. It has been very difficult for my evangelical mother, even more so as I tried to explain that I haven’t been lying or hiding every time I dated a man. It is especially hard as I am 31, and have never openly dated a woman before. Most of my friends (even my gay ones) are surprised and confused. You’re post helped remind me that even our LGBT communities can forget to include us at times. Thank you.


I get your point, but…. you
I get your point, but…. you know…. loneliness? Isolation?

Transgender, like me.

I’m not denying your points, but it has to be admitted that there are magnitudes of isolation separating bisexuals and transgender folk. And transgender people have that pesky murder rate….. 40% of reported hate crime murders are transwomern alone.

And y’know what? There are groups that make transgender folk look like muiltitudes.

All I’m saying is if we’re talking about isolation, it behooves us to remember that no matter who you are, no matter what identity boxes one may check, there are always those more isolated, less empowered, more downtrodden. And that nags me reading this. Bisexuality may not be very well understood, but rather than keeping that in proportion to the struggles of others, it reads to me that this is trying to establish that bisexuals have it so very bad, when from the perch I sit on, lack of recognition in queer circles would be a pipe dream while we’re fighting for public accommodation access and staring down some truly sobering murder and violence statistics. And that’s what kills this piece for me. Because the problems you speak of are based on so many layers of comfort, security, and opportunity that are beyond the reach of me and my brethren in the trans community.
Perhaps, in future we can all…. Every one of us…. Work to be the best allies for all of our fellow travellers rather than simply advocate for our own.


Apologies…. The correct
Apologies…. The correct number for the murder statistic is 44%. 44% of hate crime murders are of transwomen., not 40‰. My mistake.

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