This was a phrase I had heard a couple of times in my youth. But by the time I was ready to finally put some kind of label on my sexual personhood, I went with it anyway. Bisexual. There, I said it. I had heard people from both sides of the coin say that bisexuality just doesn’t exist–you have to go “one way or the other.” Interesting, I always thought, especially since LGBTQ/I advocates have been trying to deconstruct the binary conception of gender for a long time. But I digress . . .

At first, I just assumed I was homosexual. Of course, I remember having attractions to women growing up, but the ratio of women to men was stacked toward the latter. I had been aware of this “differentness” from a very young age . . . probably from about the age of six or so. It’s funny, because most children, myself included, are not even really aware of their sexuality at all at that age. But even so, I still realized there was something different about me, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. As I got older, I realized that it was because though I found some girls to be cute, a lot of my guy friends made me weak in the knees too. I never had a problem relating to men or women in a non-sexual way and had some pretty deep friendships with members of both genders.

Still, in my ill-informed mind, I assumed this meant I was gay and had to repent of my sins and seek forgiveness for the treacherous desires of my heart, despite the fact that they were there whether I wanted them to be there or not. I tried everything . . . prayer, fasting, therapists, aversion therapy, crying myself to sleep for nights at a time. But every time I woke up, the feelings were still there. Have you ever cried until it literally made you sore? It’s not as hard to do as you might imagine. Or maybe I just lost track of just how much time I spent with my face in the floor. I distinctly remember driving down the road once, as a high school sophomore/junior, and thinking to myself how easy it would be to just drive the car over the ditch and head-on into a huge tree . . . my hands actually twitched a bit on the steering wheel, but that was the closest I ever got to that kind of despair again.

As I grew older, I began to realize that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I cried and begged God to either take these sinful desires away or just strike me dead on the spot, they were not going away. Nothing changed. I felt incredibly distant from God and incredibly disillusioned with life, even though things were actually going pretty well for me. It was about this time that I graduated from high school and was soon on my way to a little college called Patrick Henry College (PHC). It didn’t take me long to realize that I would have to act pretty nonchalant at this institution if I didn’t want to be subject to the wrath of the administration, particularly the office of student life, which functioned similarly to the Gestapo (yes, I’m being dramatic . . . a little).

One of the things I remember quite well from PHC was the SoulForce visit, or “Gay Day” as it was more frequently called. Even before the ATV, mobile command post, and 100 state police officers in riot gear arrived, things felt uncomfortable. Our president briefed us in chapel at the beginning of that week not to talk to them. They’re worse than sinners . . . they claim to be Christians and yet preach false prophecy. The VP of Operations informed us that, in order to be properly identified by both the VA state police and PHC administration members, we would have to wear our student ID badges clipped to the front of our shirts. That felt so strange . . . it felt disingenuous. Here I was, wearing this outward sign to protect me from the administration, when in reality I should have been thrown on the other side of the riot line. I wish I had talked to them. I wish I had made some attempt to say that this ridiculous show of power was wrong. But I didn’t. Part of me didn’t want to make waves and perhaps a small part of me still thought I could pray it all away.

Toward the end of school, I began to do a lot of research into gender theory and sexuality. I was starting to realize that I was going to have to address who I was, instead of asking God to take it away from me. I started finding out more about what types of things could describe the feelings and attractions I had felt my entire life. I was always identified strongly with being a man. I was a male by biological sex and I enjoyed the gender roles of a man. I enjoyed being masculine (though I’ve always been very in touch with my feminine aspects as well). I realized that I was cis-gendered–my sex and my gender matched up. Cool. That works out nicely. Now what about my sexuality?

After researching the concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality as continua, I realized that I wasn’t gay or bi, I was pansexual–a cis-gendered, pansexual man. At some point I finally got up the courage to ask God to take me as I was . . . I realized I couldn’t change myself to come before God. And I finally realized that I wasn’t supposed to. God says to come as you are–there is nothing that I can do to fix myself before presenting my life as the beginning of the journey of sanctification. God and I were finally on the same page. I could abide in God’s love and everything else could be worked out in time. I didn’t need to have all the answers up front, I didn’t need to fix all my issues up front. None of it. And it was at that point, for the first time in my entire life, that I felt at peace with myself and with God.

Obviously, I still don’t have all the answers. I tend to take a pretty metered approach toward LGBT “rights,” theological issues concerning the LGBTQ/I community, political questions like gay marriage, etc. I haven’t worked through everything. I don’t necessarily know what I think or where I stand on everything. But I know that one day–maybe in this life, maybe not–God will help me to understand.

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