Be Whoever You Are – An Epistle on Feelings

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Note: This post deals with some difficult feelings and anxieties related to sexual orientation. If it hits you hard, remember the Resources page! 

Greetings, Beloved!

After yesterday’s bear of a post, I thought I’d make today’s a short one, inspired by a recent conversation with a friend about sexual attraction and identity. My friend shared that they felt some anxiety about how to define their sexuality (essentially because their feelings don’t appear to fit neatly into a particular box). It reminded me of a worry that I used to have that sometimes crops back up (thanks, brain). 

In college, I experienced a lot of anxiety about whether the sexual orientation label I used matched what I thought I should be feeling (it didn’t help that I was very aware of the social and political consequences of identifying as queer and bisexual). At the end of my first romantic relationship, an ill-timed long-distance relationship with another woman, I worried that I had deceived myself into thinking that I was attracted to women at all. I read every resource I could find, trying to make sense of my experience. Internally, I cycled through a host of possible labels, even flirting with the idea of asexuality before eventually concluding that ‘bisexual’ still suited me. 

I struggled that year with a cocktail of hard thoughts and feelings: guilt and shame about my apparent inability to just get over the relationship, worries that I would never love again, and the nagging fear that I could be lying to myself about this whole thing. I thought that I couldn’t enter a sexual relationship without harming my partner(s) because my feelings seemed all wrong. Can you tell I was a perfectionist? Seriously, bless my heart!

Perfectionism can turn feelings (in themselves neutral) into reasons for self-judgment and shame. In hindsight, I was so busy measuring and judging my feelings that I couldn’t fully live my beautiful queer life. I had to get help. Fortunately, my college had a free counseling center.  

Through therapy, the support of great friends, some true tea from Brené Brown, and the healing influence of time, I gradually began to make peace with the fact that feelings are weird and finicky–including those related to sexuality and attraction–because people are weird and finicky. 

Here’s some informal advice that I gave my friend about attraction:

  • Attraction Is fluid and complicated.
  • It may change and expand…but you can’t force it to change.
  • You get to choose how you identify. 
  • You don’t have to force yourself into any label or situation that you don’t feel right about. 

So, feelings don’t come from nowhere, and it can be worthwhile to reflect on “why,” but at the end of the day, you feel what you feel. Your feelings might not be what you expected. They might not fit the mold. They might change. That’s all fine. What you choose to do with them is a more complicated matter, but whatever your feelings are, they’re okay. Let’s start with that. 🙂 Music for your consideration: “Be Wherever You Are” by Rebecca Sugar

An “About Me” Epistle

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It’s hard for me to write about myself as a person without sounding like a series of dictionary entries. My life in academia and activism has taught me to identify by a set of labels, rattled off like a list of terms and conditions. Labels don’t encompass a person, but they do matter, so I’ll start with a few bullet points. 

I am a…

  • Young: millennial, grad student, stressed out, open-minded
  • Middle-class: somewhat protected by the financial safety net that my family provides
  • White: learning every day about how my race makes me a beneficiary and enforcer of an oppressive system that advantages white people at the expense of people of color 
  • Cisgender: my current gender happens to match the sex that I was assigned at birth
  • Bisexual/Queer: I’m sexually (and, rarely, romantically) attracted to people of my own gender and others 
  • Christian: part of the shrinking Protestant mainline in the American South; preacher’s kid who still loves the Church
  • Woman: privileged but fearful of loss of agency, healthcare, and other rights 

In conclusion, I’m a WASP with WASPy baggage. In church life, I’m a Presbyterian. We are sometimes known as “the Frozen Chosen.” In my kinky life, I’m a “switch”–I can enjoy power exchange as a dominant or submissive player. I have a wonderful collared submissive who helps me to grow as a Dominant and a few great play partners and friends in the kink community. 

All of my labels affect the way that I see and interact with the world, especially as an able-bodied U.S. citizen. I try to be mindful of them when I discuss issues of sexuality and gender. 

But a self that’s just a bunch of labels strung together looks pretty bland on the page, so here are five things that I like to do/have done that show my personality, in no particular order:

  • As a four-year-old, my idea of a great party was to pull all my books off the shelves and fall asleep on top of them. 
  • My sub has to do homework every day. Hot, right? Last week’s topic was racism in the criminal justice system. 
  • I hate driving and don’t have a car (I am a stereotypical queer that way). But I did buy myself an adult-sized kick scooter recently to help me get around. That’s a joy. 
  • In the process of building this website, I accidentally locked myself out of WordPress. My web hosting provider (shout-out to Stress Free Hosting) subsequently took pity on me and gave me extra software for free. 
  • I sing to myself almost constantly when I have the chance. Recent favorites include “Be Wherever You Are” from Steven Universe, assorted Hildegard of Bingen chants, “Why We Build The Wall” from Hadestown, and the Muppets’ version of “Ode to Joy.” 

So that’s a little of me. As I continue this journey, I’ll get into greater depth about the more salacious parts of my queer, kinky Christian life. I will tag and content-warn accordingly! 

Be of good courage,

Perpetua Fox

She/her/hers

@Perpetual_Fox on Twitter

I can’t believe I’m doing this – My First Epistle

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Greetings, World! 

I wish that I could keep the WordPress default “Hello World!” post here as a placeholder because I’m not quite sure how to begin. I could say “Hey! Let’s talk about sex in the Church! I’m technically a virgin, and I have feelings about it!” *Nerd Energy Intensifies* 

Yes, I’m a queer, kinky Christian nerd, and I have a lot to say about sex (and Christianity). But who am I to say these things? Why don’t I just read what others are saying about sex, ignore what I don’t like, and leave it at that? 

That’s what I would have done a few years ago, back when I wrote erotic fanfiction but wouldn’t dream of publishing it. Then again, Donald Trump wasn’t president of the United States a few years ago, and I lived with the illusion that things would just…progress in a positive direction over time. 

I’ve learned the hard way that silence and civility won’t protect me or the people that I love, especially those who fall through the cracks in the discourse about Christianity and sex. 

Now, I’m in divinity school, learning about the Bible, religious history, and “the care of souls.” It’s been devastating. The most vulnerable people in our society, vulnerable in ways that I didn’t always understand, are suffering, largely because of a form of Christianity that turns people into shame factories.  

So I have to speak, and I have to write. And I have to write about the things that most people are ashamed to write, including the things that make me feel ashamed. It’s not going to be perfect, and that’s okay.

This is not going to be a ‘good Christian sex’ blog, though those have their place. This isn’t an apologetics blog–I will spend a little time on the so-called “Clobber Passages,” but making the Bible seem less horrific isn’t my main purpose here. For now, consider this a buffet of thoughts about sex, faith, and justice from my Christian perspective, ranging the technical to the deeply erotic, from the mundane to the (hopefully) profound. I will tag posts accordingly.  

More soon! In the meantime, check out the Resources page (in progress), email me at unbuttonedepistles@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter as @Perpetual_Fox. 

Be of good courage!

-Perpetua Fox

(She/her/hers pronouns)