Bisexuality-Theology and Politics

By Kolodny, Debra | Tikkun, July/August 2010 | Go to article overview

Bisexuality-Theology and Politics


Kolodny, Debra, Tikkun


REGARDLESS OF THE STRUCTURE, RITUALS, AND principles of our path, and whatever the Divine name to whom we offer our prayers, bisexual and transgender people of faith live consciously and continually in the place where the twain meet. Blessed with the capacity for our intimate relationships to transcend the socially constructed boundary of gender identity (masculine/feminine) as well as the biologically constructed boundary of sex (male/female), bisexual people embody and can therefore integrate and constructively deploy powerful theological insights that take others years to cultivate through practice.

Living fully into our destiny as b'tzelem Elohim (created in the image of a G!d who exists beyond and includes all gender identities, and who intimately and passionately loves every human regardless of gender identity) grants us access during everyday consciousness to the spiritual truth that souls are not bounded by mundane matters such as genitalia. As a result of this deep knowing, which many spiritual traditions hold as a goal of daily meditation and prayer, qualities like boundless compassion and appreciation of universal truths in the face of chaos, complexity, and even violence can be cultivated with greater ease. This, of course, can lead to a life of devoted service to people quite different from oneself or of mediating and healing conflict, helping transform unhealthy or even dangerous patterns in families, organizations, or nation states.

Despite these positive possibilities, our ability to seemingly choose the sex of our partner has made bisexuals the scapegoats of people who fear abundant possibility. Sadly, even the most tolerant and welcoming heterosexual ally has been known to challenge the decision to be in a same-sex relationship, knowing that as bisexual people we are capable of partnering with someone of another gender. Ironically, this is the height of homophobia! Failing to see worth in every soul-to-soul partnering, this position explicitly declares that if you can "help it," loving someone of the same gender is not valid, is not holy, is not defendable.

The unfortunate framing of the lesbian and gay civil rights movement fed this paradigm and unwittingly fostered a degree of biphobia that still resonates in political, social, and spiritual contexts. Throughout the 1990s, the movement argued that sexual orientation was immutable- it could not change- and therefore was subject to the highest possible protection against discrimination. The immutability argument was chosen because it had been successful in securing and protecting rights based on race and gender under the Fourteenth Amendment in decades past. In addition, the 1986 Supreme Court decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld a Georgia sodomy law, seemed to have closed the door on using constitutional privacy arguments to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.

An unfortunate side effect of the "immutablity" argument was that it opened the door for the sentiment that if gay people couldbe straight they certainly would be, they just couldn't help it- thereby seeing sexual orientations as similar to congenital illness. …

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