Monday, 28 September 2015

Church Times celebrates BiVisibility Day

My friend at church caught me at the end of the service this Sunday to ask me if I had read this article published on the 18th September in the Church Times. I don't read CT so he kindly sent it to me and I wanted to share it.

OpinionFreeing sexuality from an either/or model 
‘Church Times’   18 September 2015 

Bisexuality is often misunderstood, but has the potential to refocus discussions of gender, arguesSymon Hill 

“NOBODY’s really bisexual.” It’s a sentence I have heard often. It has been said by gay people as well as straight ones; by “liberals” as well as “conservatives”. The evidence is mounting against it. A YouGov survey last month suggested that 23 per cent of British adults did not regard themselves as exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. The figure rose to 49 per cent among 18-to-24-year-olds. 
As Christians, we need to be aware of this. Whatever our views on sexuality, we are called to recognise truth, and to witness to it. Bisexual people, like everyone else, need pastoral care, and that means acknowledging their existence. Bisexual Visibility Day will be marked around the world on Wednesday (23 September). 
There is another reason for Christians to pay attention: the reality of bisexuality gives us a different starting-point in discussions of sexuality. Church debates are bogged down in name-calling and predictable arguments. At the same time, many churches are slow to recognise the reality of church-based sexual abuse. 
In this context, we urgently need new questions, as well as new answers, if we are to respond meaningfully to issues of sexual ethics and to proclaim God’s love in the context of sexuality and human relationships. 
THE tendency to ignore bisexuals seems particularly prevalent in Christian circles. The Pilling report made almost no reference to bisexuality (News, 6 December 2013). It repeatedly used the phrase “gay and lesbian”. At certain points, it seems that this is meant to mean “people who are not straight” or “people in same-sex relationships”. At other points, it seems to involve the more usual meaning of “people attracted only to others of the same sex”. 
Church discussions on sexuality are confusing and controversial enough without using sloppy language and ignoring a sizeable number of people. The Pilling report is far from being the only culprit. 
Campaigners on both sides of the argument say “gay marriage” when they mean same-sex marriage. As a bisexual Christian, I know that marrying a man would not make me gay, nor would marrying a woman make me straight. 
I am not trying to say that bisexuals are more hard done by than gay people. This is not a competition. In some ways, bisexuals may suffer less from prejudice than gay people. In certain contexts, however, bisexuals experience additional hostility. 
Homosexuality challenges traditional gender notions, but a gay person is at least looking for a partner of a particular gender. Someone who says that the gender of his or her partner does not matter may pose far more of a threat to those who are keen to defend binary gender categories. 
THIS very challenge gives us a different angle from which to approach theological questions on sexuality. One of the most shocking aspects of the New Testament is its challenge to gender roles. 
In the Gospels, we see Jesus allowing women to make physical contact with him, in a culture that found this shocking. We see him challenging male-centred divorce, and telling men who committed adultery in their hearts to take responsibility for their sexual behaviour towards women. In St Paul’s early writing, we read his assertion that “There is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28). 
Things changed. Later writings such as the First Letter to Timothy (which, in the view of most scholars, was not written by Paul) encourage women to obey their husbands. But the radical tendency was not stamped out. 
A second-century letter, Second Clement, declares that “a brother who sees a sister should think nothing about her being female, and she should think nothing about his being male.” The letter was read alongside scripture in some churches until as late as the fifth century. 
SUCH attitudes raise questions not only for those who exclude sexual minorities, but for others who wish to allow gay people into the Church as a sort of exception. I have known Christians who say that gay people should be tolerated because they “can’t help” being gay. This degrading statement implies that bisexualscanhelp it, and should choose a partner of a different sex. 
If we ignore these issues, we reject both Christian history and the needs of people who do not fit into neat categories of male and female, or straight and gay. The radical New Testament message of “no longer male and female” has the potential to free us from these human-made categories altogether. 
This emphatically does not mean adopting an “anything-goes” approach to sexuality. Rather, it frees us to concentrate on what really matters. Most of the people whom I find attractive are women; some are not. Most of them have dark hair; some have not. 
Society regards one of these issues as trivial, and the other one as a vital aspect of my identity. Perhaps if we were to regard them both as trivial, we might give more attention to what really is vital. 
By taking gender out of the discussion, we can focus on what really makes a relationship right, how we truly live in love, and what it means to follow Jesus’s example in all areas of life. 
These are tough questions that require a great deal of thought and prayer. We will not all reach the same conclusions, but at least we will be starting with helpful questions. As a popular bisexual slogan puts it, love has no gender. 
Symon Hill is the author ofThe Upside-Down Bible: What Jesus really said about money, sex and violence, which will be published by DLT in November. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

#StillBisexual video

I had loads of fun making this video. Paring down the story to short sentences that fit into two minutes whilst trying to maybe be entertaining was a challenge, but I'm just glad I have a colourful collection of sharpies!

This is part of a campaign to address the issue that people often see bisexuals as 'now' gay or straight once they enter into a committed relationship, rather than being still bisexual, as the title suggests. To find out more visit; there are loads of wonderful stories on there; and if you're inspired to make your own video, there is a clear instructions page.

Here's the script of my video, but I recommend watching it first.

· I fell in love with a boy at drama group in 2004.
I was 12. It was unrequited. I was heartbroken.
· The first guy to ask me out asked me that same year.
We went to the cinema with his mum. He didn’t kiss me :(
· I met another boy at a fancy dress party age 13.
He was Danny from Grease, I was Pocahontas. He was soooo cute.
We went to the cinema, alone. He didn’t kiss me either :(
· I fell in love with one of my friends at my girls-only school in 2006, age 14.
We went to the cinema, alone, and I was so happy just to spend time with her.
We made out in the back row :D
She was my first kiss. When she dumped me, I was heartbroken.
I let my friend kiss me to cheer me up, he was very sweet.
I came out as bi to a new group of friends at a new school age 16.
They were totally cool with it.
· A boy asked me out, we had fun, we even went on a canal holiday.
He dumped me; God told him to.
· I asked a girl out and she said “I can’t think of a reason not to.”
· After her, a boy in my friendship group and I had a fling but no one understood why.
I came out as bi to my parents when I was 18.
I thought my mother had a problem with it for years.
I was wrong :)
· A boy in first year at uni almost, but then didn’t, want me.
I had fun with some of my friends who were boys. I was 20.
· I went to a party, met a girl, we got our faces painted.
In the morning, there was paint everywhere.
Had another one night stand, with a boy. We had fun. We never spoke again.
· Had a failed first date with a boy from a party.
· In 2015, I went to the aquarium with the boy from the drama group.
That went well :D
I think we are such a cute couple.
I am #StillBisexual.
I have been lucky. Others haven’t.

Help me stop the suffering. Spread the word. We as #StillBisexual.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

My sexuality as a hobby

Mostly, I work. That is what spend most of my time doing. I'm a freelance stage manager, and each job is generally 3-8 weeks long, and there is a basic schedule that productions follow. This means my hours generally go in a cycle that looks like this:

Rehearsals Mon-Sat 8.30am-7.30pm (sometimes later)
Technical/Dress Rehearsals 8.30am-11pm (sometimes so much later it's early again)
Show Call 5pm-11pm or 12pm-11pm on matinees.
- rehearsals for the next job might start whilst I'm on show call for the previous one.

With such a cycle, I have no time that I can guarantee I will be free on a regular basis so my ability to have a hobby is somewhat limited. Downtime that I get is either spent on essential rest (which trust me, you need as well as enough sleep to function) like watching TV and painting my nails; or catching up with life stuff, like doing my grocery shop/cooking/laundry/accounts/reminding friends I'm still alive.

I don't count TV or reading as real hobbies, as they don't feel interactive enough to elicit the term, and I mostly do my reading whilst travelling anyway. And the fact that I manage to have any sort of love life or sex life is almost miraculous.

The only activity that I do on a regular basis is church. Sunday mornings are the only thing close to a regular free slot, and even then I do work on Sundays occasionally anyway. So I would count church as a hobby, "an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure", as well as my faith, religion and a social event. I get a lot out of it, I miss it when I can't do it, and because I sing the choir, it has some level of improving a skill.

The only other thing I see as hobby in my life is my interest in my sexuality. To be more specific, my interest in the experience of bisexuals, the changing understanding of what it means to be a bisexual, the way bisexuals are seen and treated in the world, and beyond that the implications on gender, and the changing understanding of gender and biological sex.

I'm not a fanatic hobbyist. As you, dear reader, know, I don't keep up this blog with any efficiency, nor my erratic attempts at Youtube videos. At best, I keep abreast of LGBT related news, discuss things like "is the soul gendered?" with friends, and I'm generally vocal about being bisexual in a sort of understated flag-waving way.

The point of this post is it's interesting, and seen as a little bit odd, to deem one's sexuality as a hobby, even to the low level with which I am involved. Such a personal part of my identity is somewhat private anyway, so to toe the line of talking about my sexuality without delving into the details of what I get up with whom - which is a breach of trust with said partners - is a tricky situation to be in. For me, it's more of an interest that I dip into when I can. Is it narcissistic? Is it just wanting to talk about myself and learn about myself? I think that's part of it. But it's not the route cause of calling my sexuality a hobby.

As I said in my list above, my interest is broader than my own personal sexuality. It is beyond psychology, into sociology and anthropology. That includes my general desire to make the world a better place for bisexuals, because I'm lucky enough that it doesn't bother me a lot in my life, so I have a duty to do what I can from my position of privilege to work on behalf of those less fortunate to improve their lives and prevent others from suffering in the first place. My hobby, as in the activity, is bringing it up in conversation, being proactively 'out', calling people out of biphobia, sharing posts about bisexuality on social media, consuming material written and made about bisexuality, even signing petitions that are relevant to improving the world we live in for bisexuals and other minorities that do not conform to social gender expectations.

That said, it's still only my hobby. It's not my crusade. I'm in awe of those who dedicate so much time and effort into the cause, but I would not want to be one of them. It's an odd place this middle ground. I feel a kind of sense of guilt that I don't do more, but I do feel I at least do something, and right now, I don't feel in a position to do more.

People find it a little strange. It is a little strange. But if my minor involvement in the bisexual community, my nudge here and complaint there IRL against biphobia, my rambling blog posts that appear at odd and prolonged intervals - if both I and other people get something out of that (and from messages and comments in response to posts and videos, other people do) then it's a great hobby. I can't help it if some people don't want to talk about the complicated and fascinating way humanity falls in love, has sex, and deals with relationships - I do. And I think the world would be in a better place if it wasn't hushed up under an cover of propriety and the myth of spontaneity, this pedestal on which organic romantic and sexual relationships have been put, as if anyone has any idea what they are doing until they learn what others have done before them, to then work out what is right for them. Talk about love, talk about sex, get educated, spread ideas, communicate with the people you have relationships with.

That is why my sexuality is my hobby and I don't care if it's weird, I enjoy it, others do too, and I think we're having a small but positive impact on making the world just a little bit better.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Bi Visibility Day 2015 Thunderclap

Click here to auto-tweet in morning in the UK (9:30AM BST) and here to auto-tweet in the morning in the US (11:00AM CDT - I'm doing both!).

Also start thinking about what you'll do with your day. Are you near any events? Can you get to further away events? Is there anyone you would like to invite/go with to an event? Listings here which will fill up with details as the day draws nearer. Good tip from this page - be aware of Jewish friends holding Yom Kippur on 23/9 this year.

I generally only have time for a Facebook/Twitter spree, which friends tell me is quite positive action - flood your feed with stuff and even with FB's algorithms, something gets through to everyone. As long as it's not in your face or angsty, no one wants that in quantity on a day of celebration. I try and paint my nails, wear my "Keep Calm It's A Bisexual" tee shirt, rainbow pin on my coat, and just find ways to mention it in conversation whether at work on socialising.

s23 bis everywhere woody