by Erin Wilson
Here goes nothin'. There are some of you I would have LOVED to tell this in person, but I felt I needed to be 100% authentically myself sooner than allowed for those face-to-face conversations with everyone.
Let me tell you a little about my story and what that means to me. (Be prepared for a lack of organized thought. I was nervous when I wrote this, and I decided not to spend a long time editing it before I posted because I just wanted to get it "out there".)
I grew up in a very conservative, heteronormative community. I wasn't around many LGBTQ+ individuals, and those I knew that were LGBTQ+ were gay males. I never felt that they should be treated differently, but I know that they were absolutely treated differently by the community I lived in.
I also grew up going to church. My family and I regularly attended church, and we were involved in just about every way we could be which meant we were at church several times a week. I also attended private, Christian school from Kindergarten through 8th grade. My parents wanted me to go to private, Christian high school but I convinced them to send me to the public high school (not because I didn't want to attend a Christian high school...because my friends were going to public). The church community I grew up in was very Evangelical. Many of you probably automatically have an understanding of what that means when I say that, but others may have no clue. The best way I can put it is this: very Scripture/Bible focused, pushing their faith onto others, and generally part of what I call "Ameri-Christianity". Another facet of Evangelicalism often is the belief that homosexuality or any same sex attraction is a sin. Evangelicals also tend to be unaccepting of trans people or people who don't identify as male or female "traditionally".
Now, I played the part well at the time. I quickly "latched onto" my parents beliefs as a child. I felt strongly about politics and that Republicans were more correct on the "issues", I loved reading and studying the Bible, and I believed that God created humans as distinctly male and female and straight.
I never questioned my sexuality as a child or adolescent. I knew I liked boys, so I must be straight. That was what I thought.
Since going off to college, I have been around many more LGBTQ+ people. I never actively sought out information about the LGBTQ+ community, but when exposed to different sexualities I tried not treat them any differently than any of the straight people I knew.
The last few years, the greater church organization I've been a part of has been dealing with how to embrace the LGBTQ+ community in our churches. Some churches want to fully embrace LGBTQ+ folks into membership and participation, while others are adamantly opposed - and various churches are somewhere in between. The conversation was always difficult for me, and I thought it was just because I've always had a strong "justice" streak in me. I don't like to see people mistreated, and I believe that God created every person equally and loves everyone just as much as anyone else no matter their differences.
As the conversation became more and more intense, the organization decided to split. They didn't (and likely still don't) call it a "split", but that's really what it was. My church had avoided the conversation, but because of the split it became necessary to have a discussion about what our church would embrace. During these discussions, I found myself feeling personally offended or defensive when people would make negative comments about the LGBTQ+ community and bisexuals specifically. At the time, I didn't know what that was about. (This was September 2017.) I had already been questioning my sexuality a bit, only talking to my mom and one friend about it. I didn't have any concrete understanding of my sexuality anymore, and I had no labels for myself. I knew I was attracted to men, but I felt like I was potentially also attracted to women. It was still very unknown.
After those conversations (and my church's decision to work toward being welcoming/affirming/open/inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community which meant we had to leave the organization), I spent some time processing. I researched topics related to the LGBTQ+ community. I found myself increasingly interested in articles and videos about women who were attracted to both men and women. I learned about a variety of different "identities", such as pansexual, queer, non-binary, genderfluid, etc. I read about how people could be attracted to both cis men and cis women (or people whose gender identities matched their gender assigned at birth), as well as trans men and trans women. I also read about people who were attracted to people who didn't identify as male or female, or people whose gender identity was fluid between male and female. I found myself identifying with all of these things. When I finally came out to myself, I chose the label "bisexual" because it felt right. My definition of bisexuality is the capacity to be attracted to people whose gender is the same as and different from my own. Other people define it differently, which is why there are so many different terms for similar sexualities.
Looking back, I definitely was interested in girls as a child/adolescent. I didn't recognize it at the time, because I was "straight". I didn't notice that my thoughts and feelings about girls were very similar to my thoughts and feelings about boys. All I knew was that God had created me female, which meant I was supposed to like boys. I never doubted that at the time. I also don't know that I knew anyone who was openly bisexual until college...maybe not even until after. I can't remember the first bisexual person I met. I don't think I ever knew or thought it was an option.
I can look back now and remember girls I definitely had crushes on without realizing it. I also remember playing games like "The Sims" and making two girl sims fall in love. I thought that was exciting. I'm not sure I had a clue why at the time.
I can keep expanding on this, but I think this is plenty for now.
Here's what I want you to know:
My bisexuality and my Christian faith are NOT mutually exclusive. For some of you, it may be. That's ok. Some of you may think that same sex attraction is a sin. I disagree. I have spent time digging into the Bible, praying, talking with queer people of faith, seeking personal discernment from God, and engaging in conversation with friends about this. I don't believe anything to do with identifying as LGBTQ+ is a sin. I believe God made humans to be diverse in many ways, including our sexualities and gender identities. I know this may be hard for some of my more conservative, Evangelical friends. I'm sorry if it's hard for you, but I'm not sorry for being authentically me. I'm ready to embrace who I am and live the life that God has called me to live, even if you disagree with it and don't like it.
Also, I'm not here to debate this with you. I know who I am and have recognized how God has created me. We can disagree, but I don't want to argue about it. If you cannot accept me and love me for who I am, then maybe we need to part ways. If that's you, know I love you despite our differences of opinion.
Thanks for reading. I love you all!
Posted with permission. Original found here.