In many Native American traditions, those who embody both genders or are attracted to both genders—Two-Spirit people—are respected as spiritual leaders. Who better to provide insight into our humanity or our sacred worth than those who are both male and female? As a die-hard Christian, I sometimes cherish Jesus as a great Two Spirit, both gentle and fierce, tender to John and sweet on Mary, one foot in this gritty world and the other in the numinous next. Plus he wore skirts!
When I came out bisexual twenty-two years ago, I came way out, writing a book about my identity and traveling the speaker circuit. My identity was my truth, and as such brought me closer to my maker. But then I married a woman eight years younger (who, having grown up in Berkeley and come out in high school, forsakes the limits of small labels for the broader one, “queer”), bought a house, and adopted a daughter—in other words, got on with life. It’s pretty easy for my bi identity to vanish in the context of a committed same-sex partnership, and then for my queerness to recede in the context of being a kindergarten mom. Add to that ten years of working on a novel about a heterosexual midwife and her many hetero clients and you’ve got a bad case of bi invisibility.
At least from the outside. From the inside, my two spirits are thriving. The spiritual gifts of bisexuals and transgendered folks reside in the both/and of our bodies. We contain paradox. We defy dualism. Hannah, Delivered is a case in point. I’m a queer adoptive mom who’s never given birth, who needed, for some mysterious and I believe sacred reason, to inhabit the fictional life of a midwife and her straight birthing moms. Life is born from the union of distinctly different selves. We come alive when we say Yes! to all our contradictions. My path as a bi woman gets richer with every paradox I embrace.
Recently I passed that marker of middle age and got bifocals. Actually they’re “progressive lenses,” so they draw no distinct line between what’s close and what’s distant. For three weeks I felt dizzy and had trouble climbing stairs, but then my eyes learned—they could see clearly both close up and far away! I can also now see that the role of my two spirits is to fit the world’s eyes with progressive lenses. We all need to see this miracle.
–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew