Being a part of the LGBT community, for many of us, feels revolutionary. Some of us are more comfortable with being revolutionary than others. Some LGBT people cope by attempting to conform as much as possible in other ways: monogamy, marriage, children, etc. And for others, such as myself, we cope by embracing that nonconforming spirit fully: polyamory, choosing not to marry, choosing not to have children. Both avenues are open to us, and both are ok. Those of us who choose the latter route are often derided by our more conservative LGBT peers for being too “messy,” for rocking the boat. But of course LGBT people are diverse, just like straight people. And we should all have a right to conform to the status quo or to live outside of it. It’s ok to be a “messy” bi person.
I wasn’t always as sexually free as I am today. I grew up being a Jehovah’s Witness, limited by a fear that my family and my religious community would disapprove. I was so insecure. Due to the very sex negative environment in which I grew up, I could not ask anyone questions regarding sexuality. It was taboo to talk about sex at all, let alone anything outside heteronormativity. My religious background not only kept me in fear of my same sex attractions, but of my sexuality in general.
This narrative isn’t uncommon for LGBT people. Many of us can relate to the process of growing up in a less permissive culture than the ones to which we migrate once we come out. Merely accepting our sexual orientation feels like a revolutionary rejection of core values held by large segments of society. Even in relatively permissive western cultures, highly conservative values around sexuality and relationships are common. So, being LGBT automatically puts many of us at odds with the values held by our parents, our teachers, our employers, etc.
Of course, for some LGBT people, coming out doesn’t feel so revolutionary. Those are the lucky ones. I wasn’t so lucky. My upbringing was extremely sex negative. Fortunately, I was a very curious child. I preferred to read for hours to kill my boredom. My grandmother bought me an encyclopedia, and it was great because I could look up topics that I couldn’t discuss with adults. When I was about 8 years old, I encountered the entry on sexuality. I was so enthralled that I remember finishing the section in just one sitting. From that moment on, I had an interest in human sexuality. And I wanted to learn as much as I could.
I suspect this is something universally human. Everyone is curious about sexuality, not just budding young bi guys like myself. Between the ages of 11 and 14, I sought insight from my peers at school, from the internet, books, and even sex shops.
Despite all this research, I didn’t really discover enough information to understand and accept my bisexuality until I was 17. And it wasn’t until I was 19 that I stopped feeling guilty about sex, masturbation, porn, etc. No doubt, some people spend their entire adult lives crippled by that guilt, so I feel privileged to be free of it now.
Although I know this isn’t everyone’s experience, for me it was leaving religion that allowed me to understand that being a sexual being is completely natural and human. The indoctrination I had experienced as a child was so severe, that only a clean break could help me salvage my sense of self worth. Self loathing was, for me, synonymous with my religious upbringing. The two were inseparable, because prohibitions about sex (and even gender roles) were such a fundamental and key part of my religious upbringing.
Looking back now, that all seems absurd to me. Why should we brainwash people to fear their sexuality, which is such a profound part of the human condition? I mean, we all are here because of sex, an act that can be as pleasurable and spiritual as anything in life.
Today, I am polyamorous (which means I believe it is possible and even healthy to give myself the freedom to love multiple people). In addition, I sometimes enjoy casual sex with friends. These facts about me no doubt threaten the ingrained sex-negativity of many people, but having worked so hard to free myself from all that negativity I am not about to let anyone put me back into a cage of guilt.
I am honest with my partners, practice safe sex, get regularly tested, and I try my best to be a good, loving, reliable partner and friend to everyone I meet. In my mind, that’s what makes me a good person. I don’t have to be monogamous to be good, and there are plenty of monogamous people who are nevertheless pretty shitty to their partners and friends. So, in the big scheme of things, I feel like I’m doing pretty well on the morality front.