Confessions of an Omnidirectional Lover: Deconstructing My Sexuality

Am I queer?
It’s a question I’ve wondered about for awhile, though maybe not in the way you might think.

The first inkling I had of my particular flavor of potential queerness (Schrödinger’s queerness?) came when I was only five years old.

I was in Sunday School, gathered with two girls who were best friends with each other — Lynne and Amber. This particular Sunday morning, I was sitting between them. Lynne was holding one of my hands, resting in her lap. And Amber was holding my other hand, resting in her lap.

I felt like I was in heaven. It felt sweet, wholesome, and right. I’m pretty sure we stayed this way throughout the entire felt-board Bible lesson.

Our Sunday School was team-taught by a woman and a man; I’ll never forget what happened after the lesson concluded.

The man put his hands on his knees, leaned in my face, smiled, and said:

“You know, you’re going to have to choose, eventually.”

And I remember thinking at the time: “Why?”

Leaving aside for a moment that this is a hell of a thing for an adult to say to a five-year-old, even then, the idea that I’d have to choose between the affection and companionship of two girls who clearly cared about each other and were enjoying me felt ludicrous.

Of course, this is the messaging I’d continue receiving growing up in Georgia, in the U.S. South, the ‘buckle of the Bible Belt.’ Evangelical Christians in the genre of faith I was raised in somehow ignored the messy, manifold witness of Scripture itself (what with its polygamist patriarchs and serial marriages culminating in twin New Covenant champions, Jesus and Paul, who ostensibly celebrated celibacy above all) in favor of a flattened 1950s-styled nuclear family with a paired dyad at the center, ‘forsaking all others’ becoming a social isolation chamber where other friends, loves, and community had no place.

I’d hear whispers of other possibilities over the years: realizing that alternative religious communities from Mormons to Shakers to the Oneida Community tried experiments in old-school polygamy, sublimated celibacy, or free-love as the elixir to immortality, respectively. In college when my roommate and I launched the proto emerging church Web directory ‘sites unseen,’ we fielded link submissions for ‘the best Jesus-infused websites you never knew about,’ including from a group called ‘Liberated Christians’ or some such thing, which included full-length PDF Christian polygamist romance novels! (We did not include it in our links list.) And my brothers in Christ on campus would sometimes acknowledge in hushed tones, like Nicodemus slipping in under the cloak of night, that they wished they could enjoy multiple loving, romantic relationships during our potentially-freest years of communal living and learning. But alas, it was probably ‘wrong.’ And besides, they didn’t want their girlfriends having these same freedoms.

Years passed. I courted, then married, my highschool sweetheart, who was and is amazing. (We recently divorced after a quarter-century, which I wrote about here.) We started married life amid a house church community where we practiced open, participatory gathering, women were equal to men, and — like the early church recorded in Acts — we sought to share all things in common. Well, *almost* all things!

Rejecting nuclear family norms by intentionally moving into neighborhoods together, throwing our arms around each other while singing, sharing so many meals and caring for each other in sickness and health, had an effect on me. Living a more genuinely tribal life outside of isolated nuclear family, white-picket-fence norms began to water seeds deep in my relational soil.

But tension and conflict was growing within me. I’d feel guilty sometimes for enjoying friendships that felt ‘too’ close — no physical lines were crossed, but my heart felt more open than the relationship structures and expectations of those around me seemed to allow for. I flourished in containers of loyalty, covenant, and commitment, but increasingly *sucked* at exclusivity. And I didn’t want to become good at walling off my heart, my body, or my life from others.

I remember thinking at the time: “Why?”

Years kept rolling on. Our beloved community dissolved, due to conflicting community visions within, as well as in our larger movement. I’d continue connecting with the wider emerging church ‘conversation.’ One day, a dear friend and colleague in that world told me I’d find some soul-solace in a book that had just come out: Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá. This pair of anthropological journalists summarized a compelling case that humanity, for most of our history as ‘prehistoric’ immediate-return foragers spanning hundreds of thousands of years, lived in a simpler relationship with the land and creatures around them, not yet stratifying into competing groups based on concentrations of wealth, violence, or gender privilege. Tribal band societies were by-and-large peace-loving, abundantly-grazing, pro-social beings who shared improvised shelter, freshly-gathered food… and love, sex, and bonding.

Sparks of recognition ignited in my heart and understanding. This more primordial, pro-social way of relating has always felt innate to my system — and quite resonant with the itinerant, lilies-of-the-field-venerating, convivial meal-sharing, touching-and-anointing-and-healing-each-other, reclining-and-laying-heads-on-each-other’s-chests Way of Jesus that I grew up learning about in Sunday School, but that folks in ‘big church’ seemed to have a difficult time integrating and living out.

And while it certainly isn’t for everyone in our contemporary world, I began to understand that enjoying multiple loving, romantic, intentional relationships, with the informed and joyful consent of all people involved, is just how I’m wired.

Alternative spiritual teacher and community organizer Morning Glory Ravenheart Zell (1948-2014) coined the term “polyamory” in her May 1990 Green Egg Magazine article, ‘A Bouquet of Lovers.’ It’s a Latin-Greek hybrid term meaning “loving many.”

Of course, we all love many — if we’re neighbors, siblings, parents, children, friends.

It’s part of being alive, even if our civilizational structures seemingly conspire to keep us increasingly tired and disconnected.

And for some of us…maybe your co-workers, neighbors, relatives, maybe even you… also have (or desire) a plurality of intimate partners or companions. Some of us are asexual; some of us are highly sexual. Polyamorous people come from all walks of life, all genders, races, sexual orientations…and faiths.

Yes, even friends of God, aspiring Jesus-followers. Even Christians.

Including me.

I yearn to share in intimate communion with those who naturally resonate with my being. I long to offer my gifts freely and without reservation within relationships that are inherently meaningful. I desire to perceive myself through the eyes of others, to be seen and understood by those who willingly engage in this sacred exchange with me. I seek the liberation of my body, where the giving and receiving flow effortlessly as one.

I crave to meet longing with equal longing, passion with fervor, and hunger with fulfillment. No longer do I wish to squander my energy responding to interest with apathy, passion with indifference, or desire with disdain. I aspire for my world to be opened wide, where my senses can come alive with every new sensation. I explore new heights and savor the depths of experience, cherishing both the novelty of discovery and the familiarity of enduring connections.

Above all, I seek to feel the boundless potentiality that life offers. I am committed to my own growth and to supporting others in their psychological, spiritual and kinesthetic evolution. Most profoundly, I am compelled to practice resurrection — to engage in the timeless dance of transformation, alongside kindred spirits who understand this journey.

For me, embracing omnidirectional loving (within safety, negotiation, and integrity) represents a significant pathway to awakening — a doorway to a more alert existence, embracing life in its entirety. It makes me a better person, better parent, and better follower of Jesus.

So back to my original question: Am I queer?

I’m honestly not sure how to answer this question, which is probably why I waited ‘till near the very end of Pride Month to share this unusual ‘coming out.’ I’ve loved bodies and souls of every gender on the spectrum, and I tend to gravitate toward women and femme folk, most of the time. While it feels a little boring in the gender-expansive spaces I gratefully get to spend increasing time in, I consider myself kinda ‘hetero-flexible’ at best!

And…I’m dedicated to queering relational structures, themselves. Mine first and foremost, and the sorts of spaces that we can catalyze in our communities. Because mutual aid and solidarity in our most intimate loverships contains positively revolutionary potential.

I felt particularly convicted to share my story after following the heartbreaking recent accounts of two amazingly gifted ministers, Rev. Kerlin Richter and Rev. Dr. Sara Lynn Shisler Goff, both of whom felt forced out of priesthood in the Episcopal Church because of institutional disapproval of their loving, polyamorous families. Not to mention charismatic,-background worship leader Katie Simbala and her triadic family, and the tireless work of UCC laywoman and journalist Jennifer C. Martin in showing the beauty, mundanity, and mutual-aid practicality of her homesteading family structure.

Each of these brave women have lived out their faith and their sexual-relational orientation at great cost. It’s so sad to me that even in allegedly ‘progressive’ and ‘queer-affirming’ Christian spaces, there continues to be so much fear and misunderstanding around those of us who love and relate differently — as though we’re going to steal your spouses and sow moral chaos in your congregations!

We’re not interested in that. We’re too busy co-creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible…and syncing up our overcrowded Google Calendars. ; )

Thank you for hearing me, and my story. For my beloveds of queer sexual orientations, please know that I’m happy to meet you on whatever ground feels right to you. If it’s as a fellow queer sibling, wonderful! If instead it’s as a close ‘cousin’ and aspiring ally, thank you. I’m grateful either way.

If you resonate with my journey in any way, I encourage you to meet me at Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire in just under two weeks. I’ve assembled a collective of dear ones sharing from their own zones of genius about how to create beautiful, sexy, harmonious erotic and relationally-rich lives — whether you’re faithful or doubter, queer or straight, kinky or vanilla, trans or cis or nonbinary, asexual or hypersexual, monogamous or polyamorous or still questioning just what on earth you are. For perhaps once in your faith-community experience, it’s not BS — everyone is welcome: with your questions, your insights, your whole lives.Whether you can make it out to Harmony, North Carolina, in a couple weeks or not, let’s keep finding and supporting each other, okay? Times are tough right now in so many arenas, but I’m convinced that a Divine Kin-dom is rising like yeast in our midst.

More on Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire…

Our hunger for love, intimacy, and a sense of belonging is a fundamental aspect of being alive, isn’t it? It transcends cultures and backgrounds.

Without authentic intimate connections, we so often experience feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and a lack of fulfillment, regardless of other achievements or pursuits.

Suppressing or ignoring these vital aspects of ourselves often leads to internal conflict, unfulfillment, and the inability to form genuine connections with others.

And religious baggage — from last year or a lifetime ago — is often at the core of our intimacy deprivation.

This is why we’re so inspired to offer you this year’s day-retreat, Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire.

Discern your path to the conscious love, sexuality, and relationships you’ve always wanted.

Are you seeking a space where your spirituality and sexuality can come together in a hot and holy ‘yes’?

Where you can explore the depths of love, intimacy, and relationship styles without fear or judgment?

Look no further than this year’s Wisdom Camp – a transformative day-retreat for hungry hearts ready to embark on a journey of self-examination and communal growth.

At Wisdom Camp, we invite you to stop apologizing for your wonderings and longings, stepping instead into loving the questions themselves. Instead of shame and shut-down, dive deeply into inner inquiry, collaborative learning, and grounded play.

In a safe(r) and nurturing environment, we’ll delve into questions many are asking: about getting our touch (platonic and erotic) needs met, consent, mindful embodiment, kink, tantra, and alternative relationship expressions. We are on a quest for the inner and collective freedom to create relationships that honor our unique needs and everyone involved.

Throughout our time together, we’ll be guided by the ancient wisdom of venerable contemplative traditions, especially (believe it or not!) the teachings of Jesus – an advocate for scandalous grace and love without limit. Be challenged to hear Jesus’ message afresh, beyond stale assumptions and into the diversity of human experience.

Every body is welcome at Wisdom Camp: Whether faithful or doubter, queer or straight, kinky or vanilla, trans or cis or nonbinary, asexual or hypersexual, monogamous or polyamorous or still questioning, you’re invited to discover, deepen, and celebrate your God-given expressions in ways resonant with your deepest values, including Jesus’ call to love, justice, and abundant living.

Wild Goose Festival is a space where people of diverse backgrounds bravely ask many of life’s most pressing questions, playing and listening to a symphony of responses. Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire offers a facilitated container inviting curiosity, courage, and collaboration into specific questions with a cohort of fellow learners.

Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire invites us to reflect on and activate our own sacred sexuality, bringing together mind, body and spirit to live life more abundantly.

Participating in this experience, you’ll be able to:

* Deepen your emotional and physical intimacy with your partner(s).
* Explore and express your desires without inhibition.
* Cultivate more passionate and fulfilling connections.
* Communicate your needs openly and foster mutual understanding.
* Approach intimacy with confidence and presence.

Wisdom Camp: Depth and Desire will give you the tools to:

* Release limiting beliefs and embrace your authentic self.
* Foster trust, vulnerability, and emotional safety.
* Discover new depths of pleasure and connection.
* Develop skills for a more satisfying intimate life.
* Nurture greater self-acceptance and self-love.
* Seamlessly, joyously weave your spirituality and sexuality into a tapestry of Love

Our time together will free you to:

* Celebrate your desires without shame or judgment.
* Experience intimacy with an open heart and mind.
* Strengthen the bonds of love and companionship.
* Embody your most confident and radiant self.
* Embrace intimacy as the sacred path of growth you always knew it could be.

In one carefully-curated day, you’ll receive:

* Guidance to heal past traumas and limiting narratives.
* Tools to enhance communication and emotional attunement.
* A supportive space among fellow journeyers to explore intimacy without fear.
* Insights into cultivating deeper presence and mindfulness.
* A roadmap to nurture lasting passion and connection.

We hope to see you here! For full lineup of teachers, experiences, and to register, go here. You can also invite friends on Facebook here. You can save 20% off Wild Goose Festival registration with my discount code, OPTIMYSTIC, at checkout!

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