What Coming Out To Myself as Bi Meant to Me
The following is a sermon I gave on September 28th in support of Bisexuality Visibility Day. Please give it a read, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. I look forward to reading them.
Since I first heard it, the story in the Gospels of the woman with the years-long flow of blood (Mark 5:25-34, Matthew 9:20-22, Luke 8:43-48) has drawn me to it. She’s a nobody who interrupts Jesus when he’s dealing with a very important person. She’s suffered for 12 years—an eternity–from this flow of blood, a debilitating ailment, and disgusting to everyone in her time.
She says to her self, “If I just touch his garment, I shall be made well.” And she does and she is.
Jesus realizes that power has gone from Him, so He stops to look around. She fesses up and Jesus says this amazing thing: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed.”
Wow. I have always absolutely loved that. Just recently I have come to grasp one reason why.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014, was Bisexuality Visibility Day. It has been since 1999 but, I confess, I only heard of it last year and I’m assuming this is the first time you might be hearing about it.. Bisexuality has been invisible, but, now, not quite so much.
Bi Visibility Day prompted me to ponder upon my experience as a bisexual, which, as I look back, I have been, all my life. I just didn’t recognize it until well into mid-life. I have always experienced the world from a “both/and” point of view, rather than “either/or.” This is what being bi, in a large sense, means to me. With regard to sexuality, being bisexual means I know I am able to love people of genders different from me and also of my own gender.
But, for a long, long time, I didn’t recognize this in myself. I thought I was straight. What struck me is this: I realized that I was very like the woman with the flow of blood. Here’s what I mean.
Her flow of blood was off. She was stopped up and misdirected. For her it was blood. For me it was energy or spirit. I didn’t know this until I felt this amazing flow in my soul when my eyes were opened to being bisexual. The boost in power I experienced after coming out as bi was such a contrast to what then, in comparison, felt like years of being sluggish, misdirected, out of synch, just not myself.
And statistics show that this is true for many, many bisexual people. In fact, my experience was relatively easy compared to many others. Compared to lesbian, gay and straight people, bisexual folk have higher rates of mental health problems, feeling suicidal, hypertension, smoking, alcohol use, intimate partner violence, living in poverty, and risky behavior among youth. For way too many bisexual people the flow of life is seriously off.
Being bi is myself. Accepting this about myself healed the flow of my soul just as the woman in the story is healed in the flow of her blood. Touching Jesus brought this healing to her. So how is touching Jesus central to my feeling suddenly the right flow in me when I came out as bi?
Here’s how: Not for even one nanosecond, when I came out, did I doubt that God loves me and made me this way—made me bisexual. And that strength comes from knowing that Jesus knows me, just as I am, knew me before I knew myself and loves me so much that He gave His life for me. I am so grateful that, in toddler Sunday school, they taught me, “Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” and that assurance sunk so deeply into my soul that I could look without blinking at the possibility that I am not straight or lesbian, the presumed binaries. I break the binaries. I am bi.
Jesus says those same words to me that he said to the woman in the story, “Daughter, your faith has made you well—able to accept who you truly are. Go in peace and be healed of your disease—freed from a distorted understanding of yourself that you had to be either gay or straight when you are really bi.”
Does it disturb you as much as it does me that so many bisexual people have not gotten this message of God’s love for them just as they are? In the many forms it can take, they have never has that moment of touching Jesus’ garment so they can be healed? Evidence of this is clear, again, in the statistics.
Only 28% of bisexual people said the most important people in their life knew of their sexual orientation, compared to 71% of lesbian women and 77% of gay men. Only 22% of bisexual people said their orientation was a positive factor in their lives. Such fear and unhappiness suggest to me that way too many bisexual people have come nowhere near the love that heals, the touching of Jesus’ garment.
Jesus said, “Go in peace; be healed.” “Peace” was what the woman with the flow of blood and I received. It is what bisexual people—like all people—so desperately need. “Peace” is a huge and fundamental concept in Scripture. It is fullness, clarity, harmony, well-being, restoration, healing, and wholeness. It is akin to love.
Coming out to myself as bisexual has given me this peace. It is a peace that energizes me to seek and do God’s will. With this peace, I have been much better at loving myself and, therefore, at loving others as myself. I am so much better at loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength.
May this peace, which passes all understanding, settle in you, as well. May Christ heal whatever blocks the flow of your life power as He did for this woman and for me. May restoration, healing and wholeness be yours as they have been mine.
And may our church find its way to offer Jesus’ peace to the bisexual people around and among us.
Image: Jesus Healing the Woman with the Flow of Blood by Paolo Veronese, via Wikipedia, Public Domain