Bisexuality and the Third Gender

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Even though this post is primarily for bisexuals, we should never lose track of the fact that we belong to a broader community, namely, the LBGQT community. Our LGBQT family is not just about sexual preference, but really includes people of a wide variety of gender expressions.  Granted we have genetic predispositions, but these predispositions are then nurtured by a variety of community and cultural norms and practices thus  providing us with a variety of gender variations. These variations ultimately are a blend of the feminine and the masculine.

The one that I find particularly fascinating is the Hijra communities of India. In the year 2014, India’s Supreme Court declared that the Hijra constituted a “legal” third gender  considered neither completely male nor female[1]. Hijras have been noted in recorded history dating back to the Kama Sutra period often associated with castration and the creation of eunuchs. Today they retain their male genitalia, but otherwise take on the female gender role.  They live together in self-sustaining communities, often with a guru. These communities are recognized as a loving and caring society which have been known to attract straight as well as trans gender people.  They  have sustained themselves over generations by “adopting” boys who are in abject poverty and rejected by their family of origin.[2] The are recognized as having special spiritual gifts and make a living by performing “blessing ceremonies” at events such as births and weddings.

The hijra do not consider themselves as male or female but as an entirely different third gender that combines both male and female psychological characteristics. They refer to themselves in gender rather than sexual terms, and in fact, many of them choose to live asexual lives. This bears similarities to us bisexuals who do not consider ourselves as gay or lesbian who restrict themselves to same sex relationships, but as bisexuals opening the door to all forms of sexual expression. But perhaps what we are seeking is at a much deeper level. Perhaps we should view ourselves not only as bisexual but as bigender.  If we dig a little deeper, perhaps what we really want (particularly the men who enjoy the feminine role, and the women who enjoy the masculine role) is the ability to express both our feminine and masculine sides without the sexual baggage that goes with it. Many bisexuals are cross dressers enjoying the feelings that come not only from wearing female apparel but all the walk and talk that goes with it, but they do not want to cross over completely. They still enjoy their masculine side with the plaid shirt and cowboy boots and the swagger.

My friends, it’s time to recognize ourselves as not only the third sexual orientation but perhaps as the third gender. And perhaps it is time to realize that we have spiritual gifts that we can offer to our gay, lesbian, and straight brothers and sisters.

[1]  Nanda, S. “Hijras: An Alternative Sex and Gender Role in India Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History. Zone Books; 1996.

 

[2] Hossain, Adnan. The paradox of recognition: hijra, third gender and sexual rights in Bangladesh. Published on line; May, 2017.

 

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Bisexuality and the Virtue of Awareness.

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)

Awareness is the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge and consciousness.  But awareness can only become a virtue when you don’t just understand it, but you live it. In my opinion, there are three levels of awareness: mindfulness, the acceptance and immersion in the higher self, and the awareness of the day to day pleasures of living. As bisexuals the concept of awareness can take on a whole new meaning.

The first level of awareness is mindfulness.  In my view, it is simply closing down the mind and opening up our souls to all the sensations around us.  It is focusing on the beauties of this world. It can be a walk along the ocean shore with the pungent scent of the salty air or a walk through an old growth forest with the beauty of light filtering down through the maples. It can be the sound of my bird friends singing their hearts out about the joy of living. Mindfulness is immersing my soul in the sweet energies of nature, shutting down the noise of this world, and ignoring the negative energy of my negative thoughts.

The second stage is to become aware of the inner or the higher self.  I am the presence in all the things of beauty. My soul is interacting with all the sweet sensations that surround me. Once in this state of self-awareness, I can feel the surge of positive energy flow through my being. I understand just how beautiful and powerful I am.  I truly understand that there are no limitations on how much I can experience.  I interact with nature and other human beings with an incredible exchange of energy and being.

The third stage is to bring this energy and presence into my everyday life where I can meet each new situation free of anxiety and fear.  I can just be and let things happen around me knowing that all things can lead to joy and personal growth. There are no problems, only opportunities.  There is always choice and I can choose to indulge or walk away.

Now how does this apply to bisexuality?  We are truly blessed on several levels. Here are my five points on awareness and bisexuality:

  1. First, because of the nature of our struggles, we have been compelled to search for our true sexual nature. This gives us the opportunity to become more aware as we search for the universal truths that surround us. This search will either lead to ruin or to a newer level of self-actualization.
  2. In this search, we will come to the understanding that our bisexual gender issues are not part of that reality; they are merely a role that we have slipped into because of the pressures of our families and culture. Once we come to this realization, we can then become aware that our whole life is full of roles that we play. Once we are aware of that we can choose to play the role or to develop our own patterns of living.
  3. The third point is that we really do have a different nature than everyone else. You can refer to it as two spirits in the sense that we have a masculine and a feminine soul, not just sexually, but all the gender qualities that go with it. But in reality, it is only one spirit that combines the whole spectrum of masculine and feminine virtues.
  4. The fourth is our sexual response to life. As bisexuals we can enjoy tremendous sexual energy that we can use to form intimate connection with men and women. We can indulge our feminine personas when we are with a man and our masculine when we are with a woman. We can go beyond the sexual role play and enter into true intimacy where we share not only our bodies but our minds and souls. We are free to choose to do this with one special individual or we can seek connection with whomever we choose.
  5. As bisexuals we have an opportunity to share this tremendous life energy with those around us. We can open our souls to others so that the divine energy, the full energy or a complete human being, can flow to those around us and bless them. This energy is always reciprocal – the more you give the more you get in return.

 

Sweet Music

SHIRT & TIE [small] (final)Bisexuality should not lead to despair; it should be a source of great joy, an opportunity to live two lives and enjoy them. Facebook asks, “Whats on your mind?” Nothing. There is nothing on my mind. Just the sounds of my favorite CD. It is early morning, 5:30 AM, and I am filled with the joy of the moment, the joy of being alive.

 

Sweet Music

Sweet music,
The gentle plucking of the harp stings,
The mystical sadness of the flute,
And a harmony so soft, so sweet,
That settles into the far reaches of my mind,
Soothing, opening up the land of dreams,
The soul’s hope of eternity.

And a smile innocently appears,
And all the cares of yesterday disappear
With the rhythm of the stings,
And all the joys of today erupt
With the warm soft tones of the flute.

And I am reminded that eternity begins now,
And life is just what it is,
An endless string of moments,
A daily opportunity to be one with myself,
And with the rhythm of the ages.

 

The Heart and Abuse

2016-03-26_0931I would like to address a comment I received regarding the ending of my last blog. What do we do if we do not have a parent who truly loves us, and in some cases may have inflicted physical or sexual abuse? For healing to take place, we have to somehow find some aspect of love from our parents or at least a reason to love them even though we cannot feel being loved. Remember love is the only emotion powerful enough to overcome deep inner pain. I believe that if we dig down deep enough we will find some aspect of love from our mother even if it was just a weak and painful connection buried beneath neglect and abandonment. With parents who do not love or who inflict severe damage through abuse, this becomes a very difficult but not impossible journey. In this case we have to find a reason to forgive.

 

The best visualization for this process I believe comes from modern views on reincarnation. Whether you believe in reincarnation or not does not matter. It is the visualization that is important. According to spiritual teachers we are eternal souls who keep coming back to Earth to seek opportunities to grow. Part of that process is the planning session where we plot out our lives so that we can experience certain trials and hurts that do not exist in the eternal world. As part of the plan, we call on souls who are part of our circle of eternal souls that we associate with through various lives. We ask them to take on certain roles so that we can achieve our goals. We count on souls who are mature and close for the difficult roles like abusive fathers and mothers because these roles are very difficult for loving souls to play. These roles are acts of love.

 

When we enter our present life, all memories of our eternal souls are erased and we have to struggle on through our preplanned trials until we come to a sense of awareness of who we really are, powerful beings filled with beauty and light. During this stage of awareness, we begin to sense the other souls in our life as spiritual beings, not at the physical level, or even conscious level, but as a vibration between our souls. At this point we can forgive and receive the love they have sent us by playing their roles for us. Now, if you have no other reason to love and forgive, I highly recommend this process as a healing of the inner soul, as a healing of the heart.

 

Of course there is therapy, which I highly recommend. But the therapy cannot just be used to dig into the past; this will accomplish nothing but reinforce the negative neural pathways. It has to somehow connect to love for self and to a reaching out to the abusive parent to reshape the bond so that we can feel some form of love. We will never understand their behavior but we can simply acknowledge it as a painful flaw in their personality, probably as a result of a deep wound they have themselves received physically, psychologically, and neurologically as young children. They may have made really bad choices, but they were probably responding to powerful destructive pathways within their own mind and brain. We have to acknowledge their pain and try to empathize with them, which is the first step to love.

 

We then forgive and turn to find the love we need within ourselves. We can begin to praise the inner spirit which has survived the abuse, and the courage of our own heart which keeps on caring and searching for love. We have to fill that need for love from our own heart.

Unfortunately, because of the abuse, the heart is wounded and may not be able to do this. This is where the second visualization takes place. It is the higher power that works so well in AA. Whether you believe or not in a god based on traditional religions does not matter; in fact, it may be detrimental as most tend to be male dominated and may be linked to feelings of abuse. You simply have to believe in a power, which spiritual teachers refer to as a universal spirit of life. You have to see the divine design in things and the beauty of life which we can sense when we are quiet and open up our own souls through the powers of awareness and mindfulness. We then join ourselves to this divine presence believing it to be the source of good which we can experience in our pleasure systems, thereby releasing our own opiate, the endorphins. This is the emotional feeling that we refer to as love. We can sense our Self becoming a part of this flow of universal love. We do not have to believe in any god, just open our hearts to sense a presence of peace and beauty.

 

After we begin to experience this presence we can begin to use the love power within to heal. When the old feelings return and the old images try to occupy our mind we simply take these five steps:

 

  1. Acknowledge the feeling, and replace it with your memory pathways of universal love.
  2. Acknowledge the abuser, but gently inform the image that it no longer has any power of over you.
  3. Forgive the abuser and thank the abuser for playing the role that has helped set you on the path to becoming a powerful spiritual human being.
  4. Close the door (you can visualize an actual door) to these memories and open the door to universal love. Walk through it and feel the power of universal love.
  5. Give yourself a hug.

 

We have to love ourselves. I could write books on how to go about this process and of course hundreds have already been written. But it is your own book, your own story that matters. Deep within yourself you have the power to do this, and deep within yourself you have the knowledge. Be patient with yourself. Acknowledge your pain but connect it with the positive from within and without. Seek a friend who really cares and share your feelings, and end each session with a hug. Acknowledge, accept, and embrace the truth: you are no longer a victim; you are a powerful, beautiful human being.

 

The Bisexual Heart

2016-03-26_0931(Before we start this blog, a brief explanation: self refers to the ego self, whereas Self with a “capital S” refers to the soul Self.)

With this knowledge of the ego and the mental issues we face as bisexuals behind us, we can now look at the solutions and beyond to how we can not only survive but actually thrive as bisexuals. That means we leave the ego and all its issues behind and enter into the realm of the heart. I believe that the soul is more than just a function of the body, the brain, and the ego. The functions of the ego can be explained by brain structure and neural pathways, but our desires, feelings, and behaviors related to those feelings, seem to go beyond the basic foundations of the mind. That takes us to the heart. The heart is that part of the soul that lets us sense and create a higher view of life, reality, and truth. The heart appears to be the inner sense of being which operates by feelings rather than thoughts. Feelings are different than thoughts and emotions. Emotions arise from our thoughts, basic drives, and the anxieties of the ego, but feelings are the unspoken words of the soul.

The ego and the gut direct the self towards self-actualization with the emphasis on the self. The gut seeks pleasure, and the ego seeks harmony, peace and self-centered happiness.  Normally, these are great things and lead to purpose and contentment.  However, as bisexuals, we often live double lives that make it very difficult to find peace and harmony thereby throwing the ego into a state of anxiety. On the other hand, the heart seeks mutual unconditional joy and love with others. Through the guiding power of love, the heart creates heart-values which are the unconditional worth we place on living things, ideas, and people. The bisexual heart needs to function in connection with others and the seeking of a greater good. Guided by the heart, the bisexual soul creates dreams and goals that it hopes will lead to good feelings and the path of love.  By experiencing love from life and others, it is able to increase its love for Self, leading to ever greater levels of Self-fulfillment. It is these acts of love that are the ultimate expression of the bisexual soul which keeps us rooted as whole human beings rather than just seekers of sex from our bodies and anxieties from our ego.  As bisexuals, we must let our heart guide our thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions, and leave behind the struggles with sexuality.  That is the only way we will and learn to accept ourselves just the way we are.

But to do that we have to first heal the heart. The mental issues we face are more than a disease of the mind; they are diseases of the heart. They are based on the failure of the heart to love itself. As the soul struggles to understand and repair itself, it does not have this resource to endure the hurts of the present because of its brokenness from the past. The healing has to occur in the heart. The heart has to learn how to love itself.

 

In the next blog we will look at the nature of the broken heart and why it is necessary to be broken before we can enter into mindfulness, consciousness and Self-love.

 

Self-Awareness and Mental Health

logo_2Several responses to my blogs seek to inform me that my message “is not their experience” with bisexuality. Of course not, we are all unique in our sexual and gender experiences. Mine was tainted, or should I say, “guided”, by my mental disorders. I can now understand that my disorders were a gift that urged me on to finally get to know and be true to my “Self”, not my ego-self, but my inner-self, or soul-self, or just plain Self with a capital “S”.

There appear to be two types (sorry, generalizing again) of bisexual people, those who struggle with their sexual identity and those who just seem to feel free and easy to float from one sexual experience to another. However, we are all on the same journey, including all members of the LGBT community, and all heterosexuals. We are here to grow into sentient, compassionate people, and I believe that means to grow the eternal part of our being – our soul. The soul is the place of inner-healing but it is also the center of our being and our power source into the realm of the miracle of living a full and complete life. To do that we have to first become aware that we are more than our mind, which is the ego-self, and become aware of our inner or spiritual Self.

The first step in awakening the Self is to find a way to enter into that inner space in the soul. The only way to do that is to seek a place of quiet, wait until our mind ceases its striving, and then just settle into the beauty of the moment. Once in this peaceful state, surrounded by beauty, a miraculous condition known as mindfulness can occur. In my view, mindfulness begins with mindlessness; it can only occur when the rational ego part of the mind is at rest. I believe our soul now takes over and re-calibrates the brain so that it can absorb all the information coming from all the senses. In my experience, the key is to not process this information, but to just let it flow. The spirit-filled mind now seems to integrate all these sensations with past and present feelings. The mind now appears to function in unison with the soul and absorbs the truths of life from a spiritual sense. I believe this is the field of genius where all thoughts come together, that aha moment where profound scientific discoveries are made. This is the zone where creativity is at its fullest and the words just flow onto the page, or the images emerge out of the white of the canvas. I feel that this is the point where we become mindful of the totality of the physical and spiritual world around us.

My first moment of mindfulness and awareness occurred during my darkest moments after my divorce, exploring the miles of nature trails around my country home. As I continued to let my body and my bulldog take me into the beauty of the day, I began to understand the needs and desires of my soul. I realized there was a lot more to life than serving my family and humanity. It was time to get to know and be true to my Self. So I took an early retirement which left me with half of one small pension. When I realized it was not enough to pay my bills, I left behind the ruins of my troubled past, sold or gave away everything I owned, and headed for the volcanic mountains of Costa Rica where I could thrive financially, mentally, and spiritually. Nestled in my mountain village, surrounded by the simplicity and unconditional acceptance of the Costa Ricans, I was free to enter into the mysteries of awareness.

I spent hours each day on my front patio beside the bubbling river letting my soul guide me into a state of mindfulness. In the process of meditation I became more and more aware of the living things around me. I believe that there is a state of being where we become aware that we are aware. It is during this state of awareness that we see our Self interacting with the plants and animals around us. We experience the Self as something beyond the limits of the ego-self. We begin to realize that we are powerful spiritual beings capable of experiencing and influencing the world around us. As we become more and more aware of our Self, we begin to see the infinite possibilities of life, and we can begin the process of deep inner healing.

There can be no sexual identification or gender healing without reaching into the soul, and the only way to reach into the soul is through awareness. Once we are aware, we can leave behind the days and ways of mental issues and begin the journey towards mental health and mental thriving. In other words, we use the power of the soul to heal the ego-mind.

Two Spirits

logo_2Fresh out of university, I spent two years teaching and living on reserves in Northern Manitoba among the Cree and Chipewyan First Nations people.  It has profoundly affected me, giving me a broader perspective on the meaning and purpose of life.  It has taught me to accept every individual simply as they are without any form of judgement. As I set out to explore the meaning and nature of bisexuality, I have once again been reminded of the beautiful spiritual-social nature of the First Nations community before it was influenced by white man’s political-social views and its moralistic standards of sexuality.

Taking the lead from traditional Native Americans and Canadians, I do believe that I, and most other bisexuals, are part of a greater community of Two-Spirited people; we simultaneously house a masculine and a feminine spirit.  Ontario has explored the Two Spirit concept in an attempt to fully understand and support individuals within the LGBT community:

Two-spirited” refers to a person who has both a masculine and a feminine spirit, and is used by some First Nations people to describe their sexual, gender and/or spiritual identity….These can include terms such as the Lakota’s “winkt” or the Dinéh’s “nàdleehé”, both of which refer to men who fill social roles associated with women, or terms which refer only to sexuality, such as the Mi’kmaq phrase “Geenumu Gessalagee”, which means “he loves men.”[1]

So what have we learned from our Native Canadians about our bisexuality? Lots, we gain a view of bisexuality as a soul-trinity involving sexuality, gender, and spirit.

First of all, make no mistake, it is sexual.  “He loves men” means “He loves men”. We have a tendency in our WASP traditions to wax over the sexual part and focus on some kind of mystical spiritism.  That kind of paternalism is not doing the Two Spirit people true justice.  Sexuality is part of our being; it is a full body-soul expression of who we are.  One of the great warriors of the Sioux, Crazy Horse, is generally believed to have had a male lover.  He was far from effeminate and yet he had a love for men.  The beauty of the native cultures is that they have demonstrated a gentle acceptance of variations in people’s sexuality.  It appears that First nation’s people simply accepted without question or judgement that Crazy Horse loved a man, and that any man or woman could have more than one sexual preference.

In reading the work of Gabriel Estrada with the Navajo, I found this wonderful concept:

Third and fourth gender roles traditionally embodied by two-spirit people include performing work and wearing clothing associated with both men and women. Not all tribes/nations have rigid gender roles, but, among those that do, some consider there to be at least four genders: feminine woman, masculine woman, feminine man, masculine man.”[2]

 The second lesson then is that First Nation’s people also recognized that Two-Spirited includes gender as well as sexuality. It appears that in the First Nation’s communities, all expressions of gender were generally accepted.  They understood that some men preferred to wear women’s clothing, work alongside the women, and help tend the children. There was no attempt to marginalize them or prevent them from influencing the young people within the community.

In our broken society, the only way for a Two-Spirited man to express his feminine gender is to cross dress in the privacy of his own home or in clubs that will accept his feminine expression.  My introduction to my feminine gender was trying on women’s clothing at age 15.  Later in my life, after my divorce, a spent a year enjoying cross dressing.  When I looked at myself in the mirror and saw the passable face and body of a woman looking back at me, I felt I had found my true identity.  I never did dare to appear in public in my feminine gender identity; that takes the kind of courage I was not able to muster. In our society, as soon as one has been identified as being transgender, he or she is often marginalized and their involvement in the greater society is restricted. My knowledge and experiences as an educator, a psychologist, and a spiritual guide would have been totally disregarded.

I have a gender foundation that has been pruned and shaped by my negative social experiences.  In my society I am merely that queer bisexual man who left his wife so he could have sex with other men. In my struggles, I was labelled by psychologists and psychiatrists as having a personality disorder with a gender identification disorder.  I saw myself as a disorder and a misfit to society.  When I left the pseudo scientific theories behind (tough to do because I was a psychologist by profession), I began to see my gender as a gift from the universe .  At that point, I no longer had a personality disorder as I was able to see myself and love myself as I am.

I came across this additional piece of information:

 “A direct translation of the Ojibwe term, “Niizh manidoowag”, “two-spirited” or “two-spirit” is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit”.[3]

In the First Nation’s communities, Two-Spirit people could have a different but definite role in the community. They simply accepted everyone’s contribution as a spiritual gift and allowed them to express their gender-spirit in any way they wished. They could be powerful warriors such as Crazy Horse, or “they were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, the care givers.”[4] Among the First Nations people, there is general recognition that those who have been blessed with two spirits have a special contribution to make to the health and wellness of the community.  The nature of the blended spirit becomes the essential factor.

In my case, I have a spirit that is a blend of my man-spirit and my woman-spirit.  It is this Two-Spirit soul that makes me different; that makes me special.  If I were a member of an historic First Nations Community, I may have been a wise man, a shaman or a healer. My male-female sexuality, two-gender, two-spirit identification has become a beautiful foundation where I can experience my world from two spiritual views.  I now have a unique way of seeing and feeling things that I can employ to help guide my community to insight and compassion.  I have two spirits

In my search of the literature I came across one disheartening trend.  Some First Nation’s people do not want the LGBT community to appropriate and corrupt the two-spirit concept, and I do not blame them.  Unfortunately, we tend to take and use a term to prove our need for special attention in the political arena.  This concept is too precious for that.  Likewise it is too precious to appropriate it and corrupt it to describe and justify our sexual preferences. Our sexual desires do not need to be justified; they are what they are.   This term is certainly not political; it is much more than just sexual, and even more than bisexual. It is holy.  It is spiritual.

 

[1] http://lgbtqhealth.ca/community/two-spirit.php

[2] http://gender.wikia.com/wiki/Two-Spirit

[3] Estrada, Gabriel S. 2011. “Two Spirits, Nádleeh, and LGBTQ2 Navajo Gaze.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 35(4):167-190.

[4] Roscoe, W. (Editor) 1988,Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology. City: Publisher