Coming to Terms with My Bisexuality Within a My Moral Framework
Terms like “lesbian” and “gay” appeared on my radar in the 90s, but not “bisexual”
I didn’t “come out” as bisexual until Summer 2021 partially because I didn’t have a term for my sexuality until a few years ago. Even when I did mention my sexual orientation almost two years ago, I only mentioned it briefly in a blog post. Later, I mentioned it in the context of tribalism on my personal Facebook page. No one said anything about my subtle “coming out”. In a way, this comforted me because my friends and family viewed me as the same person.
When I Knew
In January 2000, I first felt same-sex attraction at sixteen years old during a school practice. This shocked me because I had an almost constant attraction to males, so it just didn’t make sense. I knew Ellen Degeneres was a lesbian. My distant relative was gay. And Leonardo DiCaprio was bisexual — whatever that was. Despite DiCaprio, 90s media mainly portrayed the binary of straight or gay/lesbian, so I didn’t understand where I “fit” in. I feared I might be a lesbian, but that didn’t fit my experience of only fleeting attraction to females.
After this, I trusted my body’s signals less. My libido already exceeded the normal level of my peers due to bipolar 2 symptoms (still undiagnosed). And already dealing with the shame associated with preteen compulsive self-stimulation, I only felt more shame and confusion. Generally, I feared my own sexuality. I only dared to share about self-stimulation — and not same-sex attraction.
Trusted adults reassured me self-stimulation was a natural inclination, and they encouraged me to forgive myself. Instead, I absorbed the shame my peers communicated subconsciously. So this definitely meant not admitting to same-sex attraction to anyone, especially in light of a few peers’ degrading remarks on homosexuality.
While at college, I had a resurgence of same-sex attraction when I felt depressed during my second semester at BYU. Ironically, my attraction to males decreased significantly. I didn’t share my feelings with anyone, but I think some people may have understood. For example, my sister had the impression that one of my struggles was same-sex attraction. She shared her impression later on and I confirmed it.
One college friend expressed that women can feel attracted to each other because they share their feelings openly. And she expressed that some teenagers die by suicide because they freak out when they feel same-sex attraction. Her words helped me cope with my own feelings, whether she knew it or not. Then I understood that it’s okay to feel same-sex attraction and it isn’t worth ending a life over it.
Also, a counselor at BYU talked about thoughts being like leaves in the wind. This simile aided my understanding that my thoughts of self-stimulation and same-sex attraction were fleeting ideas. They would disappear. This helped me cope with my feelings within my moral framework. (I know others have different experiences where same-sex attraction remains a constant.)
Before my proselyting mission, I wrote an essay entitled “The Genetics of Homosexuality.” I tried to understand why some feel same-sex attraction. Subconsciously, I was trying to understand myself.
Why I Waited to “Come Out” in My 30s
In 2020, I started a post that I never published. I wrote:
“I don’t want to be called brave, gross, or sinful for sharing. … I don’t want my story as part of an agenda. I don’t want to be the bisexual woman who followed the commandments, so why can’t you? I don’t want to be the bisexual woman who is told to ignore my [beliefs] because others perceive it as anti-gay. I don’t want straight women to feel uncomfortable around me.
I want to be me.”
On Twitter, I follow or check out others’ tweets about religious LGB individuals. There I see some on both sides mock, besmirch, cancel, and dox each other. I wonder at such hate and pettiness. And this is partly why I hesitated to share my experience beyond family and close friends. But I decided that my perspective and experience add to the variety of LGB experiences. My perspective may help other LGB individuals understand themselves.
I shared my same-sex attraction with my husband a few years ago. (I didn’t understand myself well enough to tell him before then.) He accepted it as a part of my sexuality. We had already discussed that though we are married, we still feel attracted to other people. I am just attracted to a wider variety of people than my husband. We have worked for years to foster honesty and trust with each other about various sexual feelings. It hasn’t been easy, but we know we want to be together.
Being married, I recognized that part of me is a sexual being. Sexual feelings are healthy when channeled in a positive direction. Thus, I learned my libido helps me express affection to my husband. And it helps propagate the species in families. When I feel same-sex attraction, I believe that sexual desire stems from a desire for a deeper connection. I first made this connection when pondering Jillian Michaels’ first marriage with Heidi Rhoades.
My understanding that my sexual orientation didn’t define me deepened over the years. My true identity is that I am human and a child of God. My sexual orientation is a secondary characteristic, along with others like my creativity. I have intrinsic worth for being alive. And so too does every person with same-sex, opposite-sex, or asexual orientations.
I learned self-acceptance largely through the example of a friend who I met through volunteer English teaching 18 years ago. While reading his blog and essays over the years, his words helped me put my bisexual feelings into perspective along with my spiritual beliefs. Soon I shaped new beliefs.
Talking with My Son
When I was 15, I overheard my mom talking with a relative and mentioning a sexual term. I felt very uncomfortable asking my parents or others about this, though my mom would have answered my question. Instead, I turned to the dictionary (the internet was still new). Still, I had only a vague idea of what the term meant. Though I am glad I sought a factually accurate source. Because of my reticence as a teenager, I hoped to develop that trust with my son so he will come to my husband or me first.
My husband and I have tried to help my oldest son feel comfortable talking to us about sexuality. One time he ran to his room so that one attempt didn’t work well. I’m learning that it needs to come up naturally in conversation. While driving him home from school, I casually mentioned that maybe boys may date boys. He seemed to think I was a chill mom for that comment. Mostly, I want him to feel comfortable sharing his orientation with my husband and me. In another conversation with my son, my husband, and me, we discussed different orientations. We had a fruitful discussion where my husband and I reiterated: “Please come to us for your questions first”. We hope to provide accurate information without him sorting through explicit or inaccurate internet sources.
My Political Take
Over my lifetime, the acceptance of the LGB community has increased, and they feel safer opening up about their experiences. Conversion therapy techniques once caused more harm than good. However, the pendulum has swung too far so that schools refuse to tell parents about a child’s orientation. Many religions have softened their stance toward LGB individuals.
After Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage became legal in the US. Some accepted this as the new law of the land, while others still balked at it. Personally, same-sex marriage seemed an inevitable outcome, even if I questioned its morality. Instead, my husband and I discussed that marriage should be a religious ceremony and no longer the government’s role. Before legalization, many insurance companies wouldn’t include a same-sex partner on the other partner’s plan. This type of situation definitely needed nondiscrimination legislation in the US before legalization.
Sadly, for many years (and still today) religious people, traditional marriage allies, LGB allies, and the LGB community fought instead of seeking compromises and peaceful resolutions. Both sides sometimes show signs of intolerance, being easily offended, and bigotry. We can love each other, seek understanding, hold boundaries, and agreeably disagree. This takes practicing humility on an individual level. Recognize you can only choose how you act and react.