The Visibly Invisible Letter of "LGBT+"

For the past few years, I have only focused on heterosexual and homosexual experiences, offering my personal insights regarding them, especially in relation to living the teachings of the LDS Church.  Recently, however, I attended an international conference for people of many different kinds of sexual orientation, and I have realized that I need to offer insight to these people as well.  So, for a while, I am going to alternate between the two groups I have passed over - family, friends, and church leaders of LGBT+ Mormons, and church members who experience sexuality types other than heterosexual or homosexual.  Today's post will focus entirely on bisexuality.

It is an unfortunate truth that because we often view sexuality as binary, that is, gay or straight, we forget that people experience a tremendously varying spectrum of sexual orientation.  You, my dear reader, have probably never even heard of some of them before.  While being sensitive to those who are non-religious, I will also bear my witness of truth and bring these different forms of sexual orientation to the light, so that my readers may be both sensitive and helpful to those around them.  Bisexuality calls for these two strengths anew.  The question is, what is bisexuality?  To start let's define what it is not. It is not someone who is equally attracted to both genders, first of all.  That is a very common and, for bisexuals, a very frustrating misconception.  Someone who identifies as bisexual may drift in attraction towards their same gender one day, and then not too much later, float back to more dominant opposite-sex attraction.  Please do not make the naive mistake of supposing that bisexual people like both genders equally.  An excellent way to understand this would be to mentally separate their attraction to men and women, and then regard them as independent of one another, fluctuating as they will.  This leads into my next point.  Bisexual individuals are not going around having lots of sex, "because they want to" or "because they can".  It's not about having "the best of both worlds", honestly.  It just means their attractions can go one way or another, and if that happens to lead to sex it doesn't mean someone is bisexual purely for, or because of, the indulgence of sex.

For those who consider themselves "straight as an arrow" or "gay as the day is long", sometimes they will accuse a bisexual person of being indecisive, inexperienced with sex, or whatever other nonsense some people come up with.  I've got to to tell you - for years, psychologists, sociologists, and other mental health professionals have studied sexual orientation.  And the general consensus in this highly educated community is that sexuality is very fluid for many, and a least a little for some.  Thus, if someone is declaring they are attracted to both genders, in whatever way, it simply means their heart and brain are telling them, "Hey, this and this is appealing about both men and women, more for one and less for another, at this time."  Though some may remain in a consistent place with how their orientation operates for a while, many others do not have that experience.  It shifts in who and even what captivates their attractions and differing forms of attention.  This orientation exists, people.  It doesn't result from some simplistic source; it's a complex reality that has emerged over time for most people.  Please, have the respect to validate a person's sexual orientation as real and valuable, even if it doesn't make a ton of sense to you at this present time.  It is equally as unfair for someone to question your sexual orientation as it is for you to question theirs.  You'd likely say if someone challenged your orientation, "Who are they to do this?  They don't know my mind and heart well enough to judge!" If you could see yourself reacting in a similar way to this statement, please give others the same respect and dignity you yourself would demand of others.

In reference to the gospel, then, now that we've defined bisexuality, I wish to make a persuasive case for devotion to Christ.  With such a limited space, it is difficult to do, but I'll do my best.  Indeed we may be sure that, as with all sexual orientation beyond heterosexuality, being faithful and enduring to the end seem like an impossible dream.  Let's be honest - our inherent sexual and emotional desires crowd out any "arbitrary" religion or spiritual path that tells us we cannot fulfill our deep desires for a same-sex relationship or marriage, and sexual intimacy with another of our sex.  It baffles those outside such religious and spiritual paths to suppose that there could be any other options than these aforementioned.  But, drawing upon my limited comprehension of bisexuality, I can offer at least one profound suggestion that most certainly could change this so-called religious drudgery into Christ-centered joy and freedom.  If one were to devote time to studying the common traits of romantic and platonic (friendship) love, they would be astounded. Why?  Because, excepting a few key differences, amorous relationships and friendships share most of their qualities.  This can point us to the direction of choosing close, emotionally intimate friendships with those around us, versus following after sexual intimacy and committed relationships with those of the same sex. At first blush, it may seem we are getting less than we deserve in the experience of love and life.  However, I have chosen to view this from more of a bird's-eye view, and I have come to joyfully accept this as an alternative path, not an inferior one in fulfillment.  Some people I have told all this to have looked at me as though I am crazy, and perhaps understandably so.  To those who haven't plumbed the depths of what it means to choose a different love for a lifetime though, I cannot fault them for severely questioning my choice.  The question is, how does that work in reference to bisexuality, and what makes it a viable possibility?  I believe that the sure handful of choices are:  emotional vulnerability, prayer, faith in the ludicrous, and open-mindedness.

An attitude of choosing emotional vulnerability throws open the doors for potential emotional intimacy.  It shows others, in many cases, that you are willing to trust them with your heart.  This typically moves people to compassion, and if they feel you share common interests and/or see common truth, it is quite likely they will choose that same risk as you are.  What follows after is a beautiful manifestation of closeness and love, as time carries on.  This process, more than anything I think, holds the key to showing us what God is capable of if we let Him work in our lives.  Speaking of which, prayer and faith in the ludicrous are the bridge that will lead you there and keep you on the right road.  Pray as a son or daughter to a loving God, as a friend of His and not regarding Him as some far-away, ominously magnificent, stern Being.  He is your Father, and Christ, your older brother.  Speak with them as such, for they dearly love you.  And when the Spirit from these two magnificent, glorified Beings directs you to speak to some random person on the train, or engage in conversation with a homeless person, or maybe even strike up a friendship with that "weirdo" in your office, have courage enough to believe in the crazy and even the seemingly impossible.  These kind of close friendships may come from anywhere and at any time, so open your heart and your mind to the possibility of insane beginnings of connection.  We do not see the big picture, but God does... and to show us this, I believe He tells us to do things far out of our comfort zone, that push the limits of what we consider to be commonplace or "normal".

Finally, be open-minded. This doesn't mean, be cool with unrighteous and sinful activities, behavior, friends, etc.  No, it means to leave the doors of your mind open to new possibilities and new truths you haven't yet explored.  Sometimes, God best reaches us through unfamiliar channels, ones which are virtuous and good indeed, but that we haven't had the opportunity or courage enough to investigate.  For example, I never supposed before that my straight friends would be willing to cuddle, hold hands, or even kiss... and yet, I believed this because of cultural norms.  Men did all of these things as recent as the late 40's in America, and we are returning to that same norm yet again, with how our society is shifting.  But, God told me through His Spirit to open myself up to these things, making sure to keep my thoughts and intentions pure.  I did take His counsel entirely, including His caution of purifying my mind and heart beforehand.  And I'll tell you, some of my most beautiful experiences of physical affection and brotherly love have resulted directly from these experiences.  I have not been so open about them until now, but I feel to share it because I think it will encourage people of diverse sexual orientation to reach out with open-mindedness to experience the beauty God has tenderly placed in relationships, for us to joyfully discover.  Regarding those who are bisexual, it may be wise to seek out close, loving friendships with both genders, so that you can meet your emotional needs with both.

Bisexuality is not an invisible letter in the LGBT+ spectrum, nor is it something that has to force anyone in the common direction of society.  If you are bisexual, and want to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, I testify to you that it is possible.  I am not bisexual, but I have many friends who are, and as members of the Church they choose to live a faithful life in Christ.  I also testify that you are not alone in this journey, that Christ does not expect you to simply abandon all hope of love and fulfillment with those whom you are attracted to.  Through Him, a way consistent with His teachings can be made, one which will abundantly minister to your personal needs as His brother or sister.  He is on a dirt-floor, eye-to-eye level with you, walking with, talking with, and suffering with you, not being some floaty, above the sky dude who just says, "Good luck!  Hope you figure it out..."  I know our Savior is a man of battle, a man of compassion, a man of personal, tender healing, and a man of comradery and brotherhood.  He will not leave us, nor forsake us, and anything we are now enduring that seems to suggest or even scream otherwise simply is a foreordained trial for our individualized benefit.  We are His children, and nothing will separate us from His love.  Until next time, you guys...

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