If you asked one of my friends what some of the things are that characterize me, one of the first things would probably be that I love music. I’m listening to music constantly. Then they’d tell you that I’m generally outgoing and I love forming relationships with people. My close friends might also reveal that I love to write.
Many of my friends would tell you that I love music, but my love of music does not define me. My identity is not rooted in music, nor is my identity rooted in my love of writing. It’s not rooted in the color of my hair or the way I scrunch my face when I’m confused or the laughter that bursts out of me when I’m around people who make me happy.
My identity is not rooted in any of those things. It’s not rooted in my sexuality either.
There’s a question that has begun to bother me more and more lately-
How do you identify?
I’m expected to answer by stating how I identify my sexuality, or how I perhaps choose not to identify it. But there’s always that word linked to it: identity.
I’m not uncomfortable with the word bisexual as a label. Labels don’t bother me personally. I can understand why some people choose not to label themselves, though I accept the use of a label on myself.
I’m totally fine with the word bisexual as a way to define my sexual and romantic attraction for both men and women. However, I’m uncomfortable with the word bisexual as a form of identity.
This concept of identification in the LGBTQ community is something that intrigues me and has also begun to confuse me a little. I’m trying to understand how one aspect of the human experience, sexuality, comes to be the central focus of a person’s identity. I meet people, and one of the first things that they say to define themselves is that they’re gay. Or bi, or lesbian, or asexual. The list goes on.
I identified myself as a bisexual Christian on this blog to give you context about myself and the focus of my writing for this project. But my bisexuality is not typically the first thing that comes to mind when I seek to define myself. I consider it to be one of the many things that make me who I am as a person, but it’s not a central characteristic.
A student at the Pride Alliance office the other day asked me how I identified, if I didn’t mind talking about it. I said, “Sure! I identify as Katie. My favorite color is orange. I love indie music and fall weather and I’m addicted to coffee. Oh, and I’m also bisexual.”
Sexuality as a key factor in identity has become commonplace, which I find so interesting. Over the past couple of years, my bisexuality is something that was heavily linked to my identity simply because of how much it was affecting me. It was a struggle that was on my mind constantly, and so it began to get wrapped up in my identity. But now that I’m a little more settled in my sexuality, it’s not something that I link with my identity firsthand.
I think this is where my faith as a Christian ends up having a big influence. In a culture that emphasizes individuality and self-importance, establishing a firm grasp on your identity becomes paramount. Who you are and how you express yourself become crucial to how you relate to the world around you. There are so many things that I could choose to make a part of my identity, things that would cause me to feel an acute loss or sense of change in myself were they to be altered in my life.
But at the end of the day, there’s really only one thing that is central to my identity. I identify as a child of God, wholly and dearly loved regardless of my imperfections.
That is the basis for how I establish who I am as a person. Everything else, from my love of music to the fact that I’m bisexual, is secondary to that core identification. As a Christian struggling with your sexuality, it’s easy to let that take over until it feels like it defines you entirely.
When people ask me how I reconcile sexuality and Christian faith, this is one of the components that I explain. To me, my faith is reflected in how I live my life. However, my sexuality is only one of a multitude of pieces that shape who I am.
There is so much more to me than my sexuality, so I choose not to make it a primary part of my identity. This is one of the huge aspects that help me to be more at peace with my faith. The more I let my sexuality define my identity, the more it will influence my faith, because my faith and my identity are already so linked.
Even though my bisexuality is not central to my identity, my involvement with the LGBTQ community is central to my life on campus. My internship is going well, though it’s gotten more stressful as more events are rapidly approaching. I’ve been assigned to help plan out a major series of events this fall and I’m working to sort out all the details associated with that. I’m really excited to see how it all plays out, and to see how my life is affected as I continue to showcase my involvement with the LGBTQ community.