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Ex-gay stories flourish when bisexuality is ignored

Christians who don’t understand sexuality is a spectrum believe “successful” ex-gay stories.

Courtesy of Syda Productions

The upcoming Supreme Court arguments on same-sex marriage have prompted a flood of friend-of-the court briefs supporting or opposing the right to marry for gays and lesbians.

Scarcely mentioned: The lives and rights of bisexual people.

This is particularly apparent in an amicus brief was filed by a group called “same-sex attracted men and their wives” asking SCOTUS to deny marriage equality.

The group claims to not have gone through any formal conversion therapy but that they have chosen man-woman marriage unions due to their traditional Christian beliefs.

These men who are cited in the amicus brief have compelling stories. Some claim to have had successful marriages for over thirty years. Others have fairly new relationships. Their stories alone are unique and deserve to be told.

But their unique narratives cannot be used to deny civil rights to others.

There’s an underlying issue with these stories: If traditionalist Christians understood that sexuality wasn’t binary, that it isn’t just straight or gay, their ex-gay “success” stories” would fall flat.

Being attracted to the same-sex is not synonymous with being gay. There are people, like myself, who are attracted to more than one gender: We identify as bisexual.

Self-identification is important. However these men want to be identified should be respected (The brief does not make clear if they identify as gay, same-sex attracted, or straight).

Yet, by filing a friend of the court brief, they lend their stories to efforts to thwart other people’s quest to obtain civil rights. So, the stories of these same-sex attracted men, and how they identify, must be critically examined.

If individuals who are attracted to the same-sex and are also able to have romantic and sexual relationships with someone of another gender, they are, by definition, bisexual. These few self-proclaimed success stories then are not of gay men (who are innately, exclusively attracted to persons of the same-sex) but of men who have, and always been, bisexual.

What’s happening with this amicus brief, and other ex-gay stories, is that individuals who are actually bisexual end up being marketed as “formerly gay men.”

As a bisexual Christian, this upsets me to no end.

Christianity has such limited language on sexuality — and even worse language in terms of gender identity.

The word ‘bisexual’ is hardly ever uttered. I had to go beyond my Seventh-day Adventist Church’s material on sexuality for me to find, and understand, my sexuality.

This silence on bisexuality allows these “success” ex gay story to be used against my gay and lesbian friends.

It’s dishonest.

Now, this isn’t to say that we should then expect bisexuals to enter man-woman marriages just because we’re attracted to the opposite sex. That’s a simplistic view of sexuality and a minimization of a committed, love filled marriage. Consent is key. It’s important to allow each individual to decide with whom they want to spend the rest of their life.

And that goes for everyone — gay, lesbian, bisexuals, and straight individuals for that matter.

If we’re trying to protect the institution of marriage: those who are homosexual, exclusively attracted to the same-sex, shouldn’t enter marriages with those of the opposite sex.

A Brigham Young University professor and a doctoral student at the Utah State University conducted “in-depth survey of 1,612 self-selected LGBT/same-sex attracted Mormons and former Mormons thought by researchers to be the largest study ever conducted with this population,” reported the Salt Lake Tribune. They found that 69 percent of couples who entered mixed orientation marriages (in this context, gay men who marry women or vice versa) end up in divorce.

Presenting such stories as viable solutions for gay and lesbians can only lead to heartbreak.

Proponent’s arguments of ex-gay stories, like those in the amicus brief, fall short when bisexuality is included in the conversation.

Read my guest post on Rachel Held Evans blog for more information on bisexuality and the church. Follow my Twitter and Facebook for all things #FaithfullyLGBT