Growing up bisexual
As I established previously, my first sexual interaction with another person came at the hands (and lips) of my male best friend at the age of 13. I mentioned then that I knew I liked both boys and girls, but knowing and accepting are two different things. Even now, 14 years later, I still have the momentary pause where I have to remind myself that it’s not a “bad thing” to like guys. As is the chic thing to do with adult hangups and issues, I would like to take this moment to thank my parents and my childhood.
To understand the conflict I faced within myself growing up, one must understand the environment into which I was born and in which I was raised. This necessitates an understanding of both my parents and some slight background summaries on each.
Dad was born into an Air Force family, the middle of three children. His parents moved to Florida and shortly after divorced when he was young, and his mother began dating / moved in with an Air Force officer. The whole family, along with his grandparents, went to a Lutheran church every Sunday, and to every special service, such as for Lent, Advent, Good Friday, or Christmas.
Mom was born into a second-generation Lutheran family. Her dad was a civilian contractor/engineer for Martin Marietta, who was transferred to Florida when Mom was very young. They too went to church every Sunday, for holidays, etc.
Both my parents were considerably conservative growing up, and this did not change when they met in college. Once they started dating, they began attending church together. When they graduated from the local college and transferred to one of the state universities, they boarded in one of the local Lutheran church-sponsored dormitory houses. When they married, the used co-officiants, one from the local church and one from the church back in their hometown, and had communion served as part of the ceremony. They were both virgins prior to the wedding, and to this day remain married and are each others’ sole sexual partners.
After graduating from college Dad joined the Air Force as an officer. Mom got her Masters Degree in English and Childhood Education. The Air Force Officer Training School required Dad to leave the state of Florida for the first time since his young childhood, and upon graduation he and Mom moved to North Texas. It was there, just a few years into their marriage, that I was born.
As should come as absolutely no surprise, we attended church at the local Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) church everywhere we lived while I was growing up. My parents were both incredibly devout, attending every service on the calendar, setting up Bible Study groups outside of normal services, volunteering to assist with the Youth Groups, and running a very God-centric house.
This devoutness, combined with the very strict conservatism of being an Air Force family, and further compounded by my parents both growing up in the Southeast United States, made for as Right-Wing Christian Republican an upbringing as can be imagined. The only thing we lacked were the Southern Drawls for accents, and the pickup trucks.
Further compounding this was the stationing of Dad in Montgomery, Alabama when I was six years old. We had been in Tokyo for the previous three years, where I’d had a fairly diverse group of friends living on the base with me. In the Montgomery suburb to which we moved, however, the population was (and still is) over eighty percent White American. This was the kind of town where talking funny (not having the local accent) could get one bullied. As could not liking the “correct” college football team, not liking football or baseball, reading too much, being too short, not going to church, not going to the “right” church, looking too much like a girl, or acting too much like a girl.
As you may guess, I got bullied a great deal during the seven years I lived in that town. I wasn’t afraid to cry — in fact, it came easily and still does — but crying in school led to a vicious cycle of bullying, more crying, and more bullying. I had to learn to “tough it up” just to get through most days.
At home, everything was about “being a good Christian” or “doing your best for God” and other such phrases that get drilled into children at Sunday School. There was no sex education, no real talks with Mom or Dad about sex. The longest conversation Mom had with me on the subject was her handing me a stack of Christian-based sex education books — the kind that quote the Bible and refer to sexuality as “God’s Gift to a Husband and Wife” — and told me I should read them. I was eleven.
So there I was, growing up in an ultra-conservative religious household, in the middle of an ultra-conservative State, trying to kiss girls in second grade, having a girlfriend who I’d regularly kiss in third grade, and trying to catch peeks of guys every time I could. For awhile I didn’t even realize it. I’d be in the bathroom at school and look over at one of the other boys. I’d be at the base pool, and look over at somebody else in the locker room changing. I’d be at a friend’s house and try to catch him changing clothes.
Every time that I got caught I would be ridiculed or threatened. I was shorter than most of my classmates, which made such tactics easy. I was learning that I could not look at other boys without being bullied, that I was doing something wrong. Then my Sunday School lessons would touch on stories like Sodom and Gomorrah, where men loving men was cause for God to burn down the cities, and it was like God was telling me that I should burn, only I was still too young to make the conscious connection. Regardless, the pattern was quickly established that looking at another guy and having people realize it would result in hurt and shame.
Do you know how bad it feels, how damaging it is, to have your first associations with attraction be associated with pain, and hurt, and shame? How knowing that if anybody knows, really knows, how much pleasure looking at another guy brings that it could result in being physically assaulted by other kids and lectured by parents and other church members for being a dirty sinner? For years, I was convinced that if I ever acted on my desires, I was going straight to hell. Even after my first time with J, I struggled, thinking for sure that God would never forgive me for loving to taste and feel of another man in my mouth.
We moved from Alabama to the east coast of Florida when I was twelve, and while the local environment was more open and accepting — hence me being able to HAVE a first time with a guy — my parents still remained staunchly conservative and would not have taken well to knowing what J and I had done. Sadly, come the summer of 1996, at fifteen years old, we moved right back to Montgomery.
The high school in which I was enrolled had a Magnet program housed inside it, operating on a separate schedule from the rest of the school. The student population of 1300+ students was just over 90% Black. [ed. I refuse to use the term African American for people who have never set foot in Africa.] Those of us in the Magnet program essentially took over the 3rd floor of the building and never mingled with the rest of the student body. As such, we were a very tightly knit group, with several of the cliques overlapping. Out of the 300 or so students across all the grade levels in the program, only 1 ever so much as hinted toward being gay. None of the girls hinted at being bisexual, and certainly none of the guys. Because of the peer pressure to comform, and the fear of being ostracized even more than “the new kid” usually is, further coupled with the fact that I played on the school soccer team, I never once so much as hinted with anybody there that I was Bi.
I grew up afraid. I was afraid to be myself. Afraid of what my parents would do to me or think of me, of what the other kids at school would think or do, and afraid of what any of my girlfriends present or future would think or do. Or not do, as my hormones quipped. I hid the side of myself that likes guys, that likes those muscles and broad shoulders and angled hips and protruding sexual organ. I stuffed it down and either denied it or ignored it from the time I was 13 until the time I moved out of my parents house (for good) at 21.
Even then, my girlfriends and now ex-wife never accepted who I was, which kept me from properly expressing, exploring, and accepting myself. The girl I dated when I was 21 and 22 never wanted to help me pursue exploring another guy, and outright forbade me doing so without her. My girlfriend/wife from ages 22 to 29 began as showing interest in wanting to help me pursue all aspects of my sexuality, then became clingy and controlling and soul-sucking, threatening to dismember me if I so much as thought about it with or without her.
I confess, my frustrations with her, my refusal to allow myself to be hidden and compromised any further, led me to the horrible actions of cheating on her just to get my first taste of another man in 15 years. I sampled a few that way, improperly and unethically. I knew better, I chose poorly, and I learned very much the hard way that engaging in sexual acts with other people outside of a loving relationship, and without the support of a loving partner, leaves me feeling empty, cold, and even more lonely than before. I can’t ever go back to doing that. Cheating taught me that it’s not worth the emotional sacrifice. But I digress.
It wasn’t until I met Mrs. AbsinthePassion just over 2 years ago that I was able to fully embrace my sexuality, and it’s been a rocky road. I fell in love with her and her now-ex-husband. It scared me, taking so quickly and so strongly to another man. I didn’t know how to process it, as I still had some of that ingrained shame and fear, as did he for similar reasons. Neither of us knew how to support each other, and in that we failed each other. But I learned along the way that I don’t have to be ashamed. I don’t have to feel fear.
The human spirit inside the male body is much like the spirit within the female body. It is warm and loving and caring and embracing, and the only obstacle is getting the outer shell to align with that inner spirit. I have found men since who are warm and loving and caring, while still being very much Men. I have enjoyed the company, the companionship, and the pleasure of another man with Mrs. AP right there beside me, joining in the fun.
I’ve come a long way from the scared and ashamed young man who liked stealing glimpses of other boys in the bathroom, but I’m still learning and still growing. One thing I do know, though, is that I don’t ever have to be afraid of who I am, or who I will be.
Stay SINful, friends.