I recently had the pleasure of reading David & Constantino Khalaf’s excellent new book, “Modern Kinship: A Queer Guide to Christian Marriage”. While the book is chalk-full of good marital advice, they even start by exploring the challenges of the dating stage. In a section called “Challenging Geographic Limits”, they open with this:“This is the hard truth: if you’re a single LGBTQ Christian who would like to be in a relationship with someone who shares your faith, chances are you’ll have to move. As with every rule, there are exceptions. But if you’re pinning your hopes on being the outlier, you’re increasing the difficulty of a battle that is sufficiently uphill already.”
Talking to many of my gay and lesbian friends, this has largely been their experience. Given that the field is already smaller than the sea of straight people, add the element of faith (and enough commonality within that), and it can seem nearly impossible. Sadly, not everyone has the means and freedom to travel to simply date, let alone consider the implications of moving.
Around the same time I read that section of the book, I also came across this video:
What this video so beautifully and painfully expressed was the all too common experience of non-monosexual and non-cisgender folks experience in their own pursuit of identity and community. The pressure to conform through denial and erasure breaks us into pieces and pushes us back into the closet, denying so many of us the experience of wholeness, both as individuals and within relationships. Before we move on, a few helpful definitions:
Monosexual: a person who has romantic or sexual attraction to members of one sex or gender only, regardless of sexual orientation.
Non-Monosexual: a person who has romantic or sexual attraction to members of more than one sex or gender expression.
So what is the connection between these two things- an observation on gay & lesbian dating and the experience of denial and rejection? It’s that erasure hurts everyone. As someone who identifies as bisexual, I can only speak from my experience, so from this point, I will refer to it as bi-erasure, though it applies more broadly, as the video demonstrates.
Bisexual Erasure: The tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality (non-monosexuality), including the belief that bisexuality does not exist.
(NOTE: It should also be clear that non-monosexuals often choose different identifying titles that have meaning to them. For example, while I most often identify as bisexual (having the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree), I also identify as pansexual (not being limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity). In other words, while I am both bisexual and pansexual, not all bisexuals are. I know it’s complex, but let’s not get too far afield here.)
Without question, the harm of bi-erasure primarily does harm to non-monosexual people. It’s no surprise, then, that studies not only show that we are at high risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, these risks are heightened because we experience it as often from the LGBTQ+ community as from straight/cisgender people. This accounts for why, despite being a significant portion of the wider LGBTQ+, many are unlikely to ever publicly identify as bisexual as a result.
However, the harm extends beyond us. Aside from the fact that every unique person and group enriches the tapestry of our community, the negative impacts to the monosexual queer people reach further. For example, given that bisexuals represent the largest portion of the wider LGBTQ+ community (conservatively, at least 40% according to some studies), consider how the dating pool for gay and lesbian Christians would broaden if we could overcome the bi-phobia and erasure that is so prevalent.
In the coming months, I want to explore different themes around non-monosexual folks and share it here on the blog. I think one of the keys to overcoming these divisions is understanding. To that end, I also want to invite any of you who identify (whether openly or secretly) as non-monosexual to drop me an email. I’d love to hear your stories, learn from your experiences, and, with your permission, share some of the richness with the wider community.
You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org