“…in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
I was recently with a friend who also identifies as bisexual, and we began talking about the widely-held presumption that bisexuals “become” straight or gay depending on the gender of our partner.
For instance, since I am faithful in marriage with a man, it is assumed that I am living what is “straight” in me.
It is as if being bisexual means that there are distinct facets to my identity—gay or straight—and my partner determines which “side” I’m living out. For my friend, who is married to a woman, this means that many people assume she is living out the “gay” side of her bisexuality and forsaking her “straight” side.
My friend confessed that, when she was young and identified as lesbian, she deeply resented bisexual people who were in a relationship with the other gender. She took offense at what she saw as hiding behind a “straight life,” which led her to strongly object to bisexuals participating in LGBT political activity.
At one meeting, she became especially vocal about this topic. After the meeting, someone pulled my friend aside and told her how offensive her words were. This person shared with my friend that she identified as bisexual, and she did not become gay when she was with her female partner.
She explained she was bisexual whether she was with a man or a woman.
There were no bifurcated sides of her sexual orientation, and she did not switch between aspects of herself in her loving relationships. If she were with a man, she would not be living a “straight” life. She was herself: bisexual in sexual identification, everywhere and all the time.
This assumption that a bisexual person morphs into being straight or gay depending on the sex of the partner is unfortunately common in both LGBT and straight communities. I have also encountered it among Christians I have talked with about my experience.
One commented that what I do in my marriage is exercise my “heterosexual tendencies.” I confess, I had not thought about this very much until the conversation with my friend.
Am I bisexual everywhere, and all the time? As far as I know myself, I am.
What I have come to see is that the heart of the matter resides in the “and” of the verse from Genesis.
For me, the beauty of bisexuality is in the both/and experience. Identifying as bi allows me to further explore the reality that the Divine and the human are comprised of male AND female. Being sensitive to both/and allows me to encounter the immensely complex nature of God and of humans, who are made in God’s image.
Inside every human is a mix of male and female dimensions. For my friend, and myself, intimacy means choosing one person, bringing our love of more than one gender into the relationship as a way of loving the male and female richness inside each of us.
God knit me together as bisexual in my mother’s womb.
It took me a long time to grasp this complexity, and I am still discovering what it means for me. I am grateful for those who help me know I dwell in a place of both/and, not either/or, where I can appreciate the wholeness of God and every human being.
I am bisexual everywhere and all the time. I so hope you can see that.
Image via flickr user James Wheeler