Life Between the Categories
My Life as a Bisexual Married Christian & Mother of Three
As a bisexual woman of faith married to a straight man, my life has more intersections than the average American highway. I am—at one and the same time—bisexual, female, Christian, married to a man and mother of three children.
It is fair to say that the straight Christian community, whilst becoming more affirming of committed homosexual relationships, remains all but oblivious to the non-binary among us. Bisexuality is not talked about, as there is an assumption that bisexual people are at best confused, at worst serial adulterers. Perhaps if I lived in London or another big city, there would be an accepting church community for me. But there’s no chance of finding a bi-affirming fellowship in the West Country where I live. I feel suffocated when I pretend to be straight. So I no longer attend church on a regular basis.
Within the LGBT faith community, the B is largely silent, too. It is not unusual to attend an LGBT faith event and find no mention of bisexuality beyond a nominal strapline or throwaway comment. There are rarely workshops for bisexual people of faith, though trans and intersex issues are increasingly addressed at such events. There are no standalone bisexual faith groups in the UK, and so I have no means of support from people who truly understand just how difficult this orientation can be.
In terms of secular support for bisexual people, there is a great deal more out there. But I will not find advice there on how to negotiate and reconcile dual attraction with a Christian faith.
A further complication is being mother to three children. Their welfare has to be paramount. Given the high levels of ignorance amongst the populace at large concerning bisexuality, I am loath to disclose my orientation. I do not want my children, two of whom are teenagers with all the angst and self-consciousness this involves, fending off lewd comments about threesomes or questioning their parents’ marriage. It is all well and fine for gay and lesbian couples to live transparent lives in an increasingly affirming society; but it is so much easier when you both identify as gay. I have to consider the views and self-perceptions of my husband and children, let alone my extended family, every time I make a statement about my sexuality, let alone express myself romantically with a member of the same sex.
That is not to say I am unhappy. I have been married nearly twenty years to my husband, Ed. We have had our ups and downs, and experienced bitter hurt at the hands of the Church concerning my sexuality. (The Church simply refuses to get its head around any issue that is not easy to categorise, dogmatise and liturgise). Yet our marriage goes from strength to strength. The strength of our marriage has grown exponentially with my self-acceptance and transparency before God and my husband. But it has taken nearly all of these twenty years for Ed to accept that no matter how wonderful he is (and indeed he is), there is a large part of me that he cannot satisfy, will never satisfy – that yearning in me to be held and loved by another woman. Now that he has finally understood this, my feelings for him are even stronger.
I’ve had this combination of feelings since childhood. I have always found men (sexually) attractive, yet need romantic intimacy with a woman to feel "whole". This has been a lonely, confusing and desperately painful space to occupy at times. Typical of bisexual women, I have struggled with mental health throughout my life. I remain on a high dose of anti-depressants and am likely to do so for the foreseeable future. There is something bleak about not expressing your whole self in public. When you cannot totally express yourself physically or emotionally, it’s a bit like living life with one arm tied behind your back and a balaclava over your head.
I never lied to Ed about my sexuality. He married me even though I warned him about the difficulties ahead. He said that he loved me, and that he didn’t care. And he has been incredibly faithful to me, never wavering in his love and support of me, although it took a long time for him to fully grasp that if I didn’t acknowledge my dual sexuality, things would be over between us – not because I want to live a promiscuous lifestyle, but because I need to "be" the person I am.
I’m not sure whether the Church and I have a future. Gay couples mimicking heterosexual middle-class ideals is not progress for me. Real progress in the Church will be marked by a totally new understanding of human sexuality, that does not view heterosexuality as normative and therefore superior, but which acknowledges all human sexualities to be part of God’s diverse creation. Real progress will be further marked by a humble willingness to revisit Scripture with the same theological rigour applied to other "hot potatoes" of the faith. If we can view Scripture contextually in terms of slavery and women in leadership, then we can do so for human sexuality.
That would mark progress, in my view. I am not hopeful.