Earlier this week, I came across a Youtuber’s video titled, “A Christian’s Response to Disney Debuting First Bisexual Lead Character,” which led me down a rabbit hole of watching opinions of bisexual people. (If you are bi, take my warning and do not do this to yourself).
I did not know what to expect when I clicked the Youtuber’s video, which had nearly 10,000 views, and a 50/50 split of likes to dislikes. I figured I would approach the video to practice “leaning into triggers” and “neutrality,” and of course, to pass quarantine time.
The Youtuber appears on screen in a well-lit room with the word Revive written in neon letters in the background. The speaker seems pleasant and is wearing light pastel makeup and sitting on a white sofa next to a plant with her dog on her lap. The video opens quickly, with an animated Youtuber stating, “We are literally glorifying sin on TV.” She continues, “They’ve already got the adults, now they’re going after the kids.”
Before I continue, it may be useful to know that you are reading the opinion of a black bisexual man in his early thirties that grew up in Christian schools and Christian church for 18 years. Sometimes I’ll identify as pansexual or omnisexual if I’m feeling super fancy. I think of myself as easygoing, and peace are things I actively seek as an brainy intellectual and artistic creative. Despite these things, sometimes underdeveloped, low-brow opinions or people get to me, especially arguments framed in biblical righteousness or just the inability to read a book.
My father was a Christian preacher and a missionary; it was likely that our family was involved in some church activity every day of the week. I was not allowed to participate in Halloween, nor were matters of identity, relationship issues, or sex discussed.
Before I unpack the Youtuber’s video, I have known I was bi since I was a virginal pre-teen. I did not hear the word “Bisexual” officially until my late teens when I wobbled into a college psychologist’s office fighting intrusive thoughts about suicide. I then took steps to disprove my own bisexuality, which, if described to you, may read tragically, but are truths of the impact of heteronormativity.
As I aged, I did not feel comfortable saying the word “bisexual,” because I was fearful of the proximity to LGBT rainbow culture and queerness, which I thought I would inherit and be associated with and deflate my sense of myself as masculine. It was not until twenty-four years old when I began using the word or saying “no label” but only with people I was interested in dating. It was not until my preacher father’s death and subsequent intensive counseling over three years that I felt comfortable to attach myself to bisexuality with friends, family, and publicly through a book project.
The Youtuber continues the video by describing how the news of Disney’s first openly bisexual character (who is also Dominican-American) “makes her angry”— how she’s “broken down into tears” and suggests that she “may begin to cry during the video.” “I was so grieved, that I was in tears,” “I’m in mama bear mode,” the speaker says.
As an adult, I have noticed that the utterance of the word “bisexual” activates a reflex, notably from gays and lesbians. There’s an unconscious need to pigeonhole bi identity, or in some cases mockingly invalidate it, to make it easier to understand and visualize. I, the bisexual person, is put on the defense and required to endure a tsunami of vocalizations that range from hyper-sexualization, assumptions of greed and dishonesty, being responsible for STI’s in America, and my favorite – the eventual gay or lesbian.
What unsettles my Spirit about the speaker’s video is that Biphobia, or aversion, is framed in religious righteousness. [Biphobia in the context of my article is defined as invalidation, alienation and censorship.] I have seen this my whole life. Being asked to accept authoritative symbols willfully. People put a slick preacher on stage and call him holy as he robs Jesus’ followers. Police get a badge and murder freely.
The speaker uses the bible, Jesus, and God to accomplish the goal of reminding viewers that Disney’s first bisexual character is contentious—an abomination. She continues to advocate that real Christians will exclude and devalue the importance of the bisexual character referencing scripture about male and female marriage couplings.
“Any relationship other than a man a woman is unbiblical. And in God’s eyes, it’s sinful.” She continues, “you should know if you study the bible that it’s against God’s will and God’s plan…Homosexuality, Pedophilia, Bestiality, it’s all not God’s plan.”
There was not a tone of sensitivity or empathy in the video. The speaker never references double oppression, representation of demographics in media, or the adverse mental health outcomes faced from bisexual erasure in media and social discourse and stigma. Representation is not a frivolous box-checking event. The real world is shaped by perceptions from TV and media, and if Youtube is any indication, negative representations outweigh positive associations. And like every other area of society, disproportionately titled toward negative images of bi people of color, notably bi men of color.
Assuming the Youtuber is not bisexual, then empathy would illuminate that The Human Rights Campaign has sited Biphobia and bisexual erasure as the leading cause of suicide. The Bisexual Resource Center (BRC) cites, “approximately 40 percent of bisexual people have considered or attempted suicide, compared to just over a quarter of gay men and lesbians.” I want to note that no-one has ever surveyed me in thirty years about my suicidal thoughts or bisexuality.
The Youtuber’s ego slowly unleashes creating a compound effect. There is no way to reach them with science, evidence, humanity, or even a real-life person. The only way to reach these people is through empathy or using the same communication style and content they are using.
THEOLOGICALLY DRIVEN BIPHOBIA
Aside from conflating bisexuality to having sex with animals, and to witchcraft, The speaker cites Romans 1 (27), which reads “and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
She encourages her viewers to read Jude 1:7, which states, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
The speaker concludes with Hebrews 13:8, which states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” warning that God’s standard for holiness does not change.
The speaker concludes the video stating that she has nothing but love for bisexual people, whom she would take out for coffee. She then warns, “I will block hateful comments,” stating her video’s intent is to “expose and encourage” and urge her viewers to “keep kids from the things of this world.”
Mildly outraged, or possibly impressed by her commitment, I began to ponder what could create this type of fear response. Clicks? Views? Actual fear? The Youtube video suggests that children are “at-risk” of becoming bisexual by watching a character be interested in boys and girls or Disney would permit explicit depictions.
The writer of the show, Dana Terrace, a bisexual woman, wrote on her Twitter, “I am bi! I want to write a bi character.” She described how Disney initially told her that she could not represent any openly bi characters on the channel. After pushing Disney higher-ups, production was green-lit, which led to an outpouring of support, thank-yous from viewers that wished a show like Owl House had been available when they were younger.
Looking back on my identity trauma, it’s hard to decipher how much trauma was related to fear spawned by religious upbringing, lack of access to language, or media representation. Still, knowing myself, my love for language and just curiosity for the world, I believe that hearing the word bisexual on a child’s program would have led me to ask an adult what a bisexual was or research it myself. Human Rights Campaign sites that “Only 44 percent of bi+ youth said they have an adult they can turn to, compared with 54 percent of lesbian and gay youth (2017).”
HOW THEOLOGY WAS USED TO ENSLAVE BLACK AMERICANS
As a black man, I can not help but look at the world through an intersectional lens. Racial inequality and slavery is part of my American and genetic history. The bible is full of verses that were used to make a case for the enslavement of Africans a principle-based proposition. Slaves themselves, adopted the bible to cope with slavery. In modern times, Attorney General Jeff Sessions invoked Romans 13 to advocate for the separation of immigrant children from their families. Romans 13 reads, “God has established the authorities that exist.”
Ephesians 6:5-8 was used to enslave Africans. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Serve with goodwill because you know that the Lord will reward each one, whether slave or free.” 1 Peter 2:18 more clearly states, “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate but also to those who are harsh.”
What are the criteria to decide when and where biblical references are valid or no longer applicable? Who decides this? The Youtuber? You? Me? Historians?
The verses of the bible can be manipulated depending on the intent of the person’s heart. The bible covers Earth’s creation; Earth’s destruction, every emotion is expressed, and every human behavior is expressed, some of which are contradictory. Confirmation bias permits the reader to find what they need based on an existing belief or experience.
If we use the bible as the rule book, and the viewpoint of a black bisexual man, I am curious about scriptures that give my living space to exist—verses of inclusion and peace surrounding race, gender, and orientation.
If messages are molded, what is real–what’s fake?
Weaponizing the bible to exclude, censor, rape, enslave, murder, make aspects of humanity unlawful is not a new phenomenon. The face and personality of the person weaponizing may change, and the intent may change, so it’s essential to measure the messenger’s goal by looking at their behavior, learning about their story, and remembering authoritative symbols and people are aware of their power. Ephesians 5:6 “Let no one deceive you with empty words.”
When I interact with messages from a professed authority, especially the loud ones, I have learned to quickly ask if love—joy—peace–is at the foundation and to listen to my body very closely.
Galatians 5:22-24 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Trauma reduction and easing childhood pains through inclusion, representation, and language bear great fruit in the long term. And as a writer, one day, I hope to be of service to little kid who will bear the fruit of my story to alleviate anger, anxiety, and depression hopefully. I do not expect this to come easy.
SPACE TO IDENTIFY
I realize some people had experienced trauma in their life and found love–joy–and peace–by discovering the bible when they were on their last straw. They asked, and the bible, Jesus, and the church answered. I do not overlook the importance of their story or contest its value or how it brings physical peace. No-one consciousness, what they believe, how they look, how they feel about themselves, what they do or do not know, have or have not seen, nor what the media does or does not show can shape or alter the relationship with myself or the world I wish to build. Human differences are not a reflection of innate value.
The God I believe in and the God I glean many Christ-followers seek to yolk with empowers everyone to dine together and speak together despite our unique stories that may contradict each other. My God permits some to be straight, some to be bisexual, some to be Christian, some to be Muslim; God is abundant with humanly classifications. Yes, there are Earthly systems that exist to oppress and misrepresent, which must be renewed, but the judgment is on our hearts and not our label’s connotations. A Bisexual Affirmative Religious Organization reminds us that Jesus himself demonstrated the inclusion of marginalized people by society, which is the main reason he was so resented.
We must listen carefully. We must closely watch people who lead conversations with presumptions of righteousness, those who judge willfully and freely or attach themselves to authoritative symbols. I, Ross Victory, am not immune to the power of ego, nor do I claim to be perfect. I am a writer with an opinion.
So what can we possibly do? To conclude on a theological based in which this article was written, Matthew 7 tells us, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right until the other comes along and examines him.”
Claim your power, remember your spine, trust your gut and be loud about it to live the life you deserve. No matter straight, bi-sexual, Christian, or non-believer, whatever label you inherit your character must be judged separately.
Previously Published on Medium