Depending on your context, you might just be wondering, “What on earth is a non-monosexual panel?” It was a relatively new term for me. As a mainly straight and mostly cis-gender person (ie. lots of privilege in the arena of sexuality), if I hear “non-mono….” in a conversation about sexuality my brain goes to “non-monogamous.” Maybe yours did too. This is a great opportunity to remind ourselves, especially those of us who inhabit majority categories in the realm of gender and sexuality, to pause, to listen, to reflect, and to learn.
Non-monosexual is a more inclusive term for individuals who experience romantic and sexual attraction to people regardless of their gender (could include people who identify as bi/bisexual, pan/pansexual, queer, etc.).
Four individuals, each with different experiences, shared so much with our Generous Space community at our retreat that we wanted to make it a conversation that others could engage as well. One of the reasons we decided to include a non-monosexual panel in the first place is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about this experience of sexual identity, and those who have this experience can feel rejection or erasure in both straight and gay communities. We want to elevate the voices of those on the margins to increase our understanding and to learn to love well.
On the panel, you’ll hear some people who like the term bisexual to describe themselves – and others who dislike the term and why. You’ll hear the same for the term pansexual. You’ll hear some of the common misconceptions that non-monosexual folks encounter – as well as some of the annoying questions that exhaust them. I remember so clearly that when I first took my role with the ministry back in 2002, a well-known leader in Exodus circles told me that the definition of bisexuality was someone who had a sex addiction and would have sex with anyone. Even though that was 15 years ago, I know there is still a huge need for education and understanding in the Christian community so that we can cultivate spaces where our non-monosexual siblings in Christ feel seen and heard.
I’m really grateful to each of our panel participants for sharing so honestly and clearly. I hope that it will help not only the LGBTQ+ Christian community but also the church-at-large to recognize how important it is that people have the opportunity to understand and identify themselves in the unique and specific ways that are most life-giving.
It’s not uncommon for monosexual folks, whether gay or straight, to feel like, “I don’t get it.” Partly, you don’t get it because it isn’t your experience. Partly, you don’t get it because there is a certain amount of privilege that comes with fitting a more understood category. But whatever the reason for not really being able to identify with or understand the experience of a non-monosexual person, it isn’t about you and how much you “get it.” It is simply about recognizing the deep value of making sure there is space for people to know themselves, to be able to share that honestly with their faith community, and to experience deep and authentic belonging.
This panel conversation didn’t entertain questions about sexual ethics. Like any follower of Jesus, non-monosexual Christians need to discern their ethics by clarifying their values and then making decisions that will ensure they live in alignment with those values. Rule of thumb: Don’t make assumptions about someone else’s sexual ethics – regardless of their sexual or gender identity. If we give each other the benefit of the doubt that we are seeking to be faithful to our commitment to Christ in the expression of our sexuality, that would be a great first step.