‘Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith’ by Debra Kolodny | Review

Blessed Bi Spirit is a collection of 32 articles, poems, prayers, and stories from bisexual men and women on a wide variety of spiritual paths: Buddhist, Pagan, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Native American, and others. While some of the theological articles are a little wordy, the poems and prayers are beautiful, and the personal stories are fascinating and bittersweet.

Several of the writers talk about having a “second coming out” — first as gay or lesbian, then as bisexual. Some found themselves rejected not only by straight friends but by gay and lesbian friends as well. Bisexuals do not fit neatly into most folks’ neat little categories, so to understand bisexuality requires an ability to move beyond “either/or” thinking into “both/and” thinking. This can be difficult, even for the bisexual person himself/herself. For several of the writers in this collection, the hardest “coming out” was to themselves.

Part of the difficulty is that bisexuality as an orientation is not static but dynamic. As the editor of this anthology put it, “As a bisexual I experience sexual orientation, both attraction and behavior, as fluid — as shifting, as both immutable and changing. I am always bisexual, whether my partner is male or female. …While my identity is constant, my attractions, dreams, and partners have changed over the past fifteen years.”

One of the contributors, Kelly Cresap, described this dynamic in a manner to which I can easily relate: “My attraction to women was like a competing frequency on a radio transmission, not easily detectable in the din of the main broadcast.” Kelly compared being bisexual to being “an amphibian life form” — “bi-devotional, bi-spiritual, bi-experiential … bi-what-have-you.” His essay eloquently describes the self-discoveries he has found in moviegoing, and he draws further parallels in the amphibious nature of moviegoing itself: the transition from ordinary to cinematic experience.

For many of the writers, self-acceptance came when they finally allowed themselves to experience the unconditional love of God/Goddess/Spirit. One of the writers was helped on this path by an online magazine, Whosoever, edited by a friend of mine, Candace Chellew. After reading an article by Candace called “Coming Out to God,” the writer said, “I felt that God drew me to that website, the story, and her words. Nothing could have been more healing for me.”

Healing is a recurring theme in this book. Like me, more than a few of the writers were rejected by religious family members and struggled with freeing themselves from a toxic “either/or” religion and moving on to a healthy “both/and” spirituality. Many of them found ways to reclaim what was good about their religious tradition, while incorporating elements and practices from other traditions into their personal spirituality. One contributor describes herself as Zen Catholic Pagan, another as Wiccan Quaker. Others describe themselves as Budeo-Pagan, Zen Buddhist Quaker, mystical/pagan/Jungian, and “ambispiritual.” (As an Episcopagan Sufi, I can relate.)

One of the contributors, Barbara Gibson, who at the age of 70 is finishing up her doctorate at the University of Creation Spirituality, wrote that she can no longer identify herself as a Christian because she is horrified at the atrocities that have been committed in that name. “The kinds of spirituality that attract me,” she writes, “follow the mystical and justice teachings within each religion: the core teachings of Jesus (along with mystics like Hildegard of Bingen and Meister Eckhart), the theory and practice of ‘engaged Buddhism,’ some of the ritual practices and the ethical tradition of Judaism, and the dances and poetry of the Islamic Sufi tradition. Along with others in the Creation Spirituality community and elsewhere, I am creating a spiritual life that is expansive, inclusive, and relevant to the postmodern age, yet firmly rooted in tradition.”

Some of the writers have struggled with issues of monogamy vs. polyamory, and there are articles from both camps in this anthology — as well as from transgender persons and proponents of group ritual sex, three-way marriages, and BDSM sexuality. The diversity of the different contributors to this book is itself testimony that all bisexuals are definitely not alike!

The book ends with a beautifully-written bedtime story by Starhawk, called “The Goddess Blesses All Forms of Love” — about crossing religious and societal boundaries to embrace all the different forms and expressions of love. Crossing boundaries is a recurring theme throughout this book. Simply reading all 32 articles and stories is itself an eye-opening, boundary-crossing experience. I heartily recommend Blessed Bi Spirit to all who want to better understand bisexuality, as well as to all GLBT persons who are seeking to discover an authentic spirituality.