Why God Made Me Bisexual

(tw: internal homophobia and biphobia and mentions of it from outsides sources)

At the beginning of this year’s Pride month I finally answered a question I had asked myself in the rare moments throughout my teenage years in which I couldn’t deny I was queer and genuinely believe it:

Why would God make me bisexual?

I think it’s important to recognize that I did not grow up with religion. My first encounter with God was when I was six years old and my grandfather sat me down on the sofa and read to me from the Bible. As a child who was abnormally good at paying attention to adults when they spoke (even when they wished I wouldn’t), I could not for the life of me pay attention to what he was saying. My second encounter was when my mom decided that while having me grow up without any exposure to religion might be a form of child-indoctrination she was more comfortable with, it didn’t exactly give me the power to make an informed decision. So she started taking me to a Catholic church which I hated because instead of letting me listen to the sermons I was forced to go to Sunday school in which the doll-like girl with really pretty curls was kind of mean.

In the same year, my cousin stepped in and took me to a Protestant church (I can’t tell you the denomination but my mother frequently said I leaned toward Baptist). First, and most importantly from my nine year old eyes, they let me sit with adults. I liked the music, I liked the sermons and during prayer I felt, for the first time, what one would call a religious experience. In fact, whether it was coincidental or divine intervention, I often felt like God was speaking to me through sermons.

What is important to highlight to understand this next part is three things: 1.) I had next to no exposure when I was younger to religion much less what they considered to be sins; 2.) My mom was a feminist and my dad is very let-people-make-their-own-decisions so I don’t think they ever really enforced gender roles consciously or otherwise and never in my life have they said that women belong with men or that same-sex relationships are unnatural; and 3.) When I was younger, I was under the impression that my reality was the same as everyone else’s and therefore everyone experienced the world the same way I did.

So naturally I thought everyone was attracted to both sexes.

In fact, I remember the exact moment I realised that not everyone was attracted to both sexes because I was so surprised. Up until that point, I had obviously noticed that women paired off with men but thought that that was because of reproductive purposes (it was the early 2000s, that was a totally valid assumption in 2001, okay?). The idea that the majority of the population preferred one sex over another never occurred to me because I was still befuddled over why Laura thought me talking to Chris so much in second grade meant I had a crush on him when I talked to girls the same way all the time.

However, my realisation came in the form of seeing a same-sex pairing on television since I had an inkling that two men probably didn’t hook up with the intended purpose of reproducing. My reaction was somewhere along the lines of, “Huh. That’s interesting.” And I think then was around the first time I asked myself if I was gay. I decided fairly quickly I wasn’t because I liked boys so I couldn’t be. That decision would have perhaps been more conclusive if I had thought I didn’t like girls. I just simply didn’t worry too much about it because I didn’t see a reason to care.

I still didn’t see much of a reason to care when I was 11 and I had my first kiss. With a girl. As luck would have it, a few weeks later a reason for me to care presented itself. My friend and I went on a message board where there was a debate happening on same-sex marriage. To me it seemed pretty logical that if a man and woman married because they were in love then two people of the same sex in love could too. I was confused why my friend was against it so I asked her. “I dunno, but it’s against my religion.”

It was shocking for obvious reasons. Upon further inspection I found that same-sex relationships weren’t exactly favoured by the Bible. I informed Alexis* of this and she didn’t care. She didn’t feel like we were doing anything wrong and honestly neither did I, but wasn’t the fact that I felt completely okay doing the wrong thing just more proof of my deviousness?

We started fighting to the point of screaming at each other. She’d never cared I was a Christian before, probably because up until that point it hadn’t affected her. And we didn’t know what we were doing because we were so young. We were friends and sometimes we kissed but we had never heard of two girls being girlfriends and had no way to verbalise it. I couldn’t break up with her because that would imply we were in a relationship and I didn’t think that’s what we were doing (I still don’t, but I don’t think we were exactly friends either), and she couldn’t say she wanted to stay together because she didn’t think that’s what we were doing either. So the nature of our fights turned religious instead of emotional:

“We’re not doing anything wrong, Richela. The Bible isn’t talking about people like us. I can’t believe you think that what we’re doing is wrong,” she said in one of our longer fights about it. She was frowning, upset, and that made me upset because I couldn’t comfort her by telling her I didn’t think that at all.

“It doesn’t matter what I think. That’s not what It says,” I said.

Alexis sighed out in frustration. “Why are you choosing to believe the Bible over me? It was written by men hundreds of years ago, not by God, not by Jesus, They never said anything about it.”

“Every word in the Bible is God breathed,” I answered.

“Which was also written by a man,” she snapped.

Generally, though, Alexis chose to ignore me and kissed me anyways. At first it worked until my resolve to do “the right thing” strengthened and I finally pushed her away. She pushed back, insistent, and finally stopped when I started crying. I refused to go back to her house until one day she called me crying. “Please, Richela, I promise I won’t do anything. Just please come over.” So I went over and she kept her promise. But being around her hurt and we stopped being friends soon after that.

After that I resolved to put it from my mind, telling myself that I still wasn’t a lesbian because I still liked guys. I didn’t hear of the word bisexual until I was thirteen and I remember the day I heard it I cried myself to sleep that night. Partly because it has been fairly easy not to think of myself as an inherently unclean person when I had no idea what I was; straight may not have felt perfectly right but it had been feasible in a world where people could only be attracted to one sex. And also because in the context I had heard about it the girl had said that people aren’t really bisexual, that’s just an excuse they used to have sex with as many people as possible. Somehow that just didn’t do much to convince me of my holiness.

I decided I wasn’t bisexual because that was the only option I could handle at the time. It got harder as I got older because my subconscious and the parts of my brain that signal attraction didn’t really care whether I wanted to be straight or not. I used to repeat “I’m not bisexual because I can’t be bisexual because even if I were I can only be with men so it’s irrelevant but that doesn’t matter because I’m not bisexual” to myself like a very roundabout mantra. When I was 17 I gave up and it felt like failure.

The more I got used to the idea I was bisexual, the angrier I got. I didn’t understand how even though I was one of the few virgins among my friends I was the one who in the wrong just by being. It’s not that I couldn’t control myself and not be with women, it’s just that I didn’t feel like that was fair. I thought that was something that straight people thought was fair because they didn’t have to face the possibility of not being with their soulmates. And how was I ever supposed to have an honest relationship while suppressing a part of myself anyways? How could I ever have a relationship with a man and not wonder if I was settling because I wasn’t allowed to know what the alternative was?

And quite frankly, I was mad at God. Why me? Why had He done this to me? What had I done to deserve it? We were only supposed to face challenges we could handle. But I couldn’t handle the challenge of hiding who I was for the rest of my life. I couldn’t handle not knowing if my soulmate was a man or woman so that I could at least know if I was even meant to experience romantic love in my life. And most of all, I couldn’t handle thinking that if my soulmate was a woman I wouldn’t be able to love her. I hadn’t even been faced with the possibility and the mere thought of it was breaking me apart.

The tension became so much that I realized I couldn’t be both a Christian and bisexual. Others could and that works for them, but I couldn’t both believe and ignore what the Bible said even if I could reason it away by saying that people still eat pork and shellfish. And I couldn’t affiliate myself to a group of people who believed in my condemnation anymore because that was damaging to my own self-acceptance and self-worth. I’d never thought of myself as someone with enough uncertainty in my views and beliefs to ever be capable of turning toward agnosticism. But I feel certain God exists. I just don’t believe in a Biblical God. I refuse to believe in a Creator who would create millions of species and only put sexual restrictions on one. I don’t believe in a God who would send good people and/or souls to Hell just because they didn’t believe in Him. And Alexis was right thirteen years ago, I didn’t feel like we were doing anything wrong.

The ones who were telling me that what I was feeling was wrong were people, not God.

I used to think God talked to me through sermons, but I was too busy asking Him why He hadn’t made me someone else that I didn’t listen. Countless times I heard sermons about not making judgements, about how He loved us, about remembering He made us in His image and one notable time where there was a speaker who said that we had to learn to accept ourselves because God didn’t make mistakes and said she had meant to talk about something else but got the feeling she was supposed to talk about self-acceptance instead. If the question was why He made me bisexual then His answer was undoubtedly because this was who He imagined me to be, who I was supposed to be, the part of His image He decided to imprint into my soul.

It feels so obvious to me that this was who I was supposed to be that that wasn’t a huge revelation. The answer came to me during a discussion with a group of queer women about an LGBT+ film we had just watched. One of the women I admire for her seemingly natural confidence was talking about how it took tenacity to accept yourself and then push yourself out into a world that doesn’t want to accept you. And that finally struck a chord.

I don’t feel like I’m a particularly brave person. It feels comfortable to me to embrace femininity and/or traditional forms of beauty. And I’m articulate but have trouble expressing my feelings and experiences because, whilst they are a part of me, they are a part that’s very hard for me to access. So I would like to freely talk about this, but it’s also really hard and mildly terrifying, especially because I’m not impervious to criticism. Therefore, as a highly privileged person, it would be much more comfortable from a social point, even if not from a personal point, for me to continue to act like a part of the majority and pretend the prejudice aimed toward the LGBT+ community isn’t aimed at me too.

But I don’t, because I can’t. It wasn’t in my DNA to ignore and/or lie to myself about who I am and I’m not the kind of person who can conform to the mold society thinks I should be and not be driven mad by the sheer injustice of it. Because what I feel should not be a source of political or public debate. And it shouldn’t mean that I should be punished by not being allowed to marry or being treated subhuman since who I’m attracted to, who I love, who I eventually marry and, hell let’s just be open about what everyone’s main problem with my sexuality is, who I have sex with doesn’t affect anyone other than the lovely person who will choose to partake in those experiences with me.

And God made me bisexual because I can handle the challenge of having to say that once, and then say it again, and then keep saying it until it’s either true to everyone or I am dead, not for myself but for the LGBT+ youth who are still being told what they feel is wrong and cry themselves to sleep because no matter how hard they try they can’t stop feeling it. And ultimately, that’s what Pride is to me, because for the majority of LGBT+ people I have met, it took time and practice to be proud of our identity. We all, collectively, don’t want our past to be the new generation’s future. It’s a protest, a time to remember the people in the past who have helped us get here and a push toward a better and more equal future. But amongst all it’s a celebration, because faced with the choice with what is easy and what is authentic to us, we’ve had the tenacity to choose the latter.

So happy Pride to everybody!

 

* Changed the name for purposes of anonymity.

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