Being part of the LGBTQ+ community in a Christian setting, unfortunately, comes with some risks. To involve yourself in the community, you must inevitably contend with people who think that your “lifestyle” is sinful, wrong, and a rejection of faith. For many people, this has been the extent of their experience; very few, if any, Christians have been kind to them and as a result, they have walked away from the church. However, more and more young Christians are realizing that there is a place for LGBTQ+ people in the church. I know that my experience is unique and that there are many different stories from bisexual people in Christian communities, but I want to share my experience to show that there is hope and there is healing, but not in the way that you might think.
It’s not as bad as you’d think.
When I started going to Trinity Western University, I had identified as bisexual for just under a year. I had always known that I was attracted to girls and boys, but I repressed my attraction to girls for years because every Christian I’d ever know had told me that being gay was a sin. My attraction to boys made me even more confused because I had only ever heard of “gay” and “straight.” The first time I learned the word “bisexual” and what it meant in the eighth grade, I immediately knew that I was bisexual. It was like I had found a piece of me that was missing; I finally felt whole. It took me a few years to accept that was part of who I was and become comfortable with the label. While I was still accepting myself, I was thrown into a small Christian environment where I wasn’t sure what would happen. But I soon realized that I didn’t need to be scared. In my dorm, there was a girl who was openly gay. The whole dorm was incredibly kind and accepting of her and I realized that if I chose to come out, that I would be accepted by this group of people. I soon gained the confidence to be open about my bisexuality and I stopped hiding it. Instead, I would speak about my experiences with confidence. The result was overwhelmingly positive. Though I have met people who have told me that they believe it is wrong to be gay or bisexual, the majority of students, staff, and professors I have spoken to are affirming of the LGBTQ+ community and believe they have a place in the church.
There are many Christian LGBTQ+ people.
On my campus, I found that there was a group for LGBTQ+ people that I could get involved with. The group is surprisingly large with many different identities: I met people who are gay and lesbian, many who are bisexual, some who are asexual, and some who don’t like labels but use “gay” as an umbrella term. The meetings had respectful dialogue and discussions about LGBTQ+ experiences in the Christian community. For the first time, I was surrounded by people like me. However, this is not the only way to meet LGBTQ+ people. I soon discovered that many of my friends and the girls that I knew identified as bisexual. There were so many times that I would sigh despondently and complain to my friend: “that girl is so cute! If only she weren’t straight.” Only to be told: “Hannah, she’s bisexual.” Turns out that a large number of girls on my small Christian campus are bisexual like me!
It’s hard to date.
Despite the fact that there are many bisexual girls, it is still very hard to date. In general, it is much more difficult to convince girls that you are flirting with them than boys. Any kindness to a single boy tends to be taken as flirting, but girls require a little more effort. It becomes so much more difficult when you’re not even sure if she likes girls. Further, the risk of being a girl and dating a girl at a Christian university is that you might attract some unwanted attention from some people who are not so kind or affirming. While the majority of people I’ve met are either affirming or think that “it’s between you and God, it’s not my place to judge,” there are some people who are actively against bisexuality and same-sex attraction in general. These people, though they are few, tend to be very vocal and active. Further, many Christian parents would prefer that their daughter date and marry a man. The topic of sex is taboo in most Christian circles, so explaining that you are bisexual to your parents and convincing them of it while also reassuring them that you’ve never had sex is incredibly difficult. It’s difficult to find a girl who is willing to put up with discrimination and potentially losing her parents’ support, especially when dating men is still an option.
There is such a thing as acceptance.
Overall, my experience being bisexual at a small Christian university has shown me that being Christian does not have to be synonymous with being homophobic. There are currently plenty of young Christians that want to bring about a future where the LGBTQ+ community can feel wholeheartedly welcomed and safe in the church. It would be a mistake to say that no church is homophobic or that all Christians are affirming, but there certainly are more affirming Christians than I realized. This gives me so much hope because maybe there will be a future where LGBTQ+ people don’t have to be afraid to be themselves.