Guest blog by Proclaim member, Miriam Samuelson-Roberts
I love talking to my friend Lindsay on the phone. We both just graduated from seminary, and it brings me such joy to hear about her ministry, her girlfriend, her road trips, and to talk about our shared passion for all things gardening and vegetable-related. Lindsay, like me, is a queer bisexual woman.
I also love talking to my friend Joel. Joel and I went to college and seminary together, and have talked each other through preparation for our preaching class together, shared moments of spiritual self-discovery, and have seen each other through all the normal excitement and love and heartbreak that comes with young adulthood. Joel also identifies as bisexual.
I love keeping up with my friend Kelsie—as she lives into her ministry on internship this year, as she prepares for having a baby with her husband, as she preaches and leads Bible studies and prepares to be a pastor. Kelsie, too, is a bisexual woman.
I tell these stories because stories are the way I most relate to God’s vision for the world—through the stories of the Bible, through the parables Jesus tells, through the stories of fellow humans and children of God living their lives today. As I reflect on my own identity—a queer bisexual woman, married to a man, who feels called to ordained ministry in the ELCA—I see my own story reflected in the stories of other people whose sexual identities may not fit into prescribed categories, and whose stories often go untold. I relate a lot to the term “bisexual invisibility”—bisexuality, or really any identity that doesn’t fit neatly into categories—is an identity that often gets erased, or subsumed into the binary categories of gay and straight, or dismissed as something that isn’t real or valid.
And so I tell these stories, and my own story, mostly to say that God’s kingdom is vast, and varied, and beautiful. When Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, I believe he calls us to understand our neighbors as ourselves—to see the sacred in one another and in each of the ways we are called, in our unique identities and lives, to live out God’s love in the world. Bisexuality and other non-binary sexual identities are as varied as the people who possess them. And that’s a wonderful thing! What a gift to get to listen to the many ways that bisexual people live out their calls as partners, friends, pastors, and community members. What a gift to have to listen deeply—to have to put away all assumptions about categories and to get to hear people’s stories for what they are.
This is what I hope for bisexuality and all non-binary sexual identities in the Church—that these identities can be visible, that they can be a way of helping us all recognize the broad spectrum of identity and the many ways we each live that out. When I was younger, my youth choir would totally ham it up every time we sang “All God’s Children Have a Place in the Choir”—we would break out kazoos and tambourines and we would jump around with the freedom of knowing that we each really did have a place there. I’m grateful for spaces in the Church where we all feel like we have a place, and I’m grateful for those who are working to ensure that more and more of those places exist for all of us. Thanks be to God for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and all its partners, supporters, and advocates who are doing this life-changing ministry that allows us to put away all assumptions and hear, serve, and love all our neighbors.
Miriam Samuelson-Roberts just completed her MDiv at Yale Divinity School and is serving as pastoral intern at Augustana Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, MN this year. She lives proudly into the space of being a bisexual woman married to a man and is grateful for the places that conversations around faith and sexuality intersect. She and her husband Daniel live in Minneapolis and love being outdoors, but are also sort of enjoying the Netflix life right now.