My first kiss was with my next-door neighbor—a young boy in my class. It was back when I didn’t know what it meant to be queer, what it meant to be bisexual, what it meant to be trans. We were together under a flagpole at recess, he told me that the previous night was “Hershey’s Kiss” night at his church.
He asked me if I wanted a kiss. I did.
And so he leaned in and kissed me. It caught me off guard, but I wasn’t upset. I was the kind of child prone to affectionate gestures, and this boy was one of my closest friends.
My first more intentional kiss came a few years later. Another close friend, the granddaughter of one of the pastors at my church. We were playing with another of our girlfriends, we snuck away to her second-story bathroom, and we kissed.
I like both of these stories. They’re cute, and I’ve told both as my “First kiss” story. I like that I have two different stories for two different genders.
Relaying them now, I realize that both involve a necessary mention of faith.
And it makes sense. My faith identity and my bisexual identity (even if I didn’t always have a word for it) go back as far as things can go. They are at the core to who I am, and any expression of myself will contain both.
In my previous writing for Believe Out Loud, I’ve done a lot of discussion about how I, and by extension others, create and live into our identity. I’ve written about searching my local churches and communities for people like me. I talked about looking for a theology that speaks to me. And I talked about the importance of helping those younger, both in physical age and also newer to identity, to understand themselves.
Mostly these reflections have been about my faith and gender identity, but the same identity questions hold true when I consider my sexuality.
It’s great to be bisexual, but what kind of bisexual am I?
This question is harder for me than the question of gender. Bisexuality did not always have the level of commonality, of community, that gender has. It dawns on me now that I’ve never been in a space just for bisexual Christians.
With other trans people, I found a kind of language of common experience. With bisexuality, I sometimes had trouble even defining what the word meant.
And—people have misconceptions, or different conceptions, and specific requirements I had to achieve or avoid. I asked myself so many questions.
Did I have to be attracted to genders equally, or intimate with genders equally, and was I limited to only two genders and/or sexes? No, no, and no. Could I like the same things in different people, or did I like certain things only in certain genders? It turns out that the things I like in a partner are more or less consistent across genders. Could I be some form of monogamous, or not? Totally. Was this just a stepping-stone to one form or monosexuality or another? So far, no.
Could I have my own unique answers to these questions and still hold the same identity as other bisexuals?
We do a lot of this work in our faith lives. At least I did. Though I’ve been a lifelong Christian, I grew up in one denomination before I moved to another, then became nondenominational, then moved through two more. Each had its own beliefs and its own culture, but they each stirred something in me, and I loved them.
In college I had a partner who was also bisexual. I remember once talking to them about their sexuality (what kind of bisexual they were) in hopes of figuring myself out. As it turned out, my sexuality was not at all like theirs. Their answers to the above questions were different—I was amazed at how different. It seemed shocking that my and their sexualities shared a name.
On top of this, at this same time, I was also figuring out what kind of Christian I was. Much like my sexuality, my faith journey was vastly different than those around me. Even when we shared the same “Christian” identifier. There was no “Progressive Christianity” for me then for me to cling to. There was what everyone I knew believed in one camp, and then there was me by my lonesome.
I didn’t have community when I was discovering my identity as both bisexual and Christian.
Now, I am in a place now where I am surrounded by folks like me, and I celebrate how broad the definitions of both “Bisexual” and “Christian” can be. But I wasn’t always in this place, and I know how difficult it is to build an identity without a community of “Our People”—people who understand us.
But no matter what (and I know how sappy this is!), I’ve learned that I have an identity that was created for me by my creator. To my fellow bisexual Christians—Our God made us this way. And I’m betting yours identity is pretty amazing!
Photo via flickr user Nugraha Kusuma