Every year I march in the PRIDE parade with my local atheist group which to believers is probably the worst imaginable scenario. Just like I have believers scold me for pushing an atheist agenda onto my child I have also had people imply that attending PRIDE is promoting a gay lifestyle. Well first of all I don’t know what a gay lifestyle is. People are who they are and they live their life just like everyone else. Second, if they mean that I am promoting acceptance of the LGBT community, how exactly is that a bad thing? I want Arabella to be open-minded and supportive of people. I want her to see that we go to events such a PRIDE not just because we identify but also as allies. Rich is heterosexual and still attends PRIDE every year to support me and the rest of the LGBT community. I cannot imagine how people find something negative about this.
I believe it is never too early to start promoting love and acceptance of others. I am often asked if Arabella knows that I am bisexual and to that the answer is no, but only because she is four years old and the topic hasn’t come up. When she does show an interest I will gladly discuss it with her, though the level of detail I go in to will depend upon her age and maturity at the time of the discussion. I really don’t see how explaining that bi-sexual means that mommy has had relationships with both men and women could be interpreted as a negative thing, but then again I don’t comprehend irrational concepts.
I feel that being open with Arabella about who I am and what I have experienced will help us to start an open line of communication. I never want her to be afraid to tell me things about herself. As a teenager I wasn’t afraid of my sexuality but I also didn’t sit down and have a heart-to-heart with my parents about it. I have casually mentioned it to them as an adult but they seem pretty indifferent to it. I suppose the fact that I am not actively in a homosexual relationship, but instead in a heterosexual marriage has something to do with it. Though I will say that I 100% believe that my parents would have supported me had it been a woman that I decided to marry. They have supported me through every other choice I have made and have loved me unconditionally my entire life so I would expect nothing else.
I’m sure that people see me in my hetero-sexual marriage and wonder why I care so much about expressing my sexuality. Well for as long as I can remember I have identified as bi-sexual. Yes, I am in a hetero, monogamous marriage, but that does not change my sexuality. For some reason there is this concept that as soon as you are in a relationship with a man or woman you become gay or straight, but as is the case with most things in life- it isn’t black and white. Try to imagine if you entered into a marriage and suddenly you couldn’t identify as gay or straight you had to choose a new group because this one relationship was to define your entire being, that is how I feel when people say that being with Rich makes me straight, not bi. People do not stop feeling attraction just because they are in a relationship, the relationship just provides guidelines as to if you will or will not act on the attraction.
If I was to do a top 5 break ups (High Fidelity, get it?) I think that likely the number one break up would be the first woman I ever dated, and mainly because of the repressive, religious based fear that caused it to end. It took place in college. We’d know each other for a long time but were nothing more than friends until sophomore year. I won’t go into the mushy and eventually heartbreaking details other than to say that religion and politics were what inevitably ended our relationship. She was closeted due to religion and her family was incredibly conservative. She chose to not rock the bigoted boat that had been set to complete her life journey. Because of this reasoning, because it is too risky for it to even come out now, she doesn’t acknowledge me this day. We went our separate ways and moved on, met our husbands, started families- she went on to join a group of extreme religious radicals and I became part of “Couple of Atheists” so we couldn’t really be further apart in our lives. It is a shame that denying who you are has to be a contingent part of some religions. I am not saying that we were meant to be together or that things didn’t turn out for the best (at least here) but it saddens me to think that there is a part of her she can never express. Hopefully one day believers will accept that people are people. We exist on a spectrum and there is nothing wrong with living a life true to who you are. If your God doesn’t love you as you are, out and expressing yourself, well he doesn’t deserve your undying devotion. To hide your own truth just in case a myth turns out to be true is no way to live and I feel so sad for those that do.
So as another PRIDE month comes to an end I have to reflect on how lucky I am. Lucky that I am able to participate in PRIDE events as a bisexual, female, atheist without ridicule. Lucky that I am raising my daughter in a society that is finally beginning to understand LGBT. Lucky that I have been able to express my sexuality my entire life and grow from each experience. This is all part of what makes me who I am and the fact that I don’t have to hide those qualities is amazing. So many people are still repressed but hopefully acceptance will continue to grow and equality will be come the norm. Until then, let’s stay strong and keep marching.