I’ve been having discussions with a friend about polyamory, because she is polyamorous as am I. In one of our more recent discussions she mentioned that polyamory is the new queer, augmenting the traditional definition of queer as being homosexuality/trans-gender.
What is polyamory? you may ask. Here are a few definitions:
The philosophy or state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time.
Polyamory (from Greek πολυ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyamory
Any of various practices involving relationships with multiple partners with the knowledge and consent of all involved. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/polyamory
In the poly community, the last two are the prevalent definitions with the stress on the phrase, “with the knowledge and consent of all involved.”
The very most important concept to people who consider themselves poly is that they strongly believe in being completely open, honest and inclusive when it comes to their relationships. I’ve also heard this referred to as “responsible non-monogamy” , with, again, the stress on “responsible”.
So, we now have a new definition of queer, that being polyamory, or more accurately, those who identify themselves as polyamorous.
Polyamory is much more than having multiple sex partners. Yes, the sex part is important, but not nearly as important as the emotional aspect. To an outsider, polyamory is often seen as an expedient to justifying having multiple sex partners, in the same way they consider bi-sexuality to be. Of course, as those who are bi-sexual can tell you, this isn’t an expedient, it truly a way of being. Being polyamorous is what we feel, it defines how we are attracted romantically, sexually and emotionally to others.
Someone who is polyamorous can be straight, gay, bi or trans-gender. Being poly does not have anything to do with your gender identification or your sexual orientation. It is truly an emotional and social issue, not a sexual one. For me, I’m a straight poly person, for my friend, she’s a bi-poly person. There are gay poly people who only are involved in homosexual relationships.
So these are some general definitions of polyamory. Now let me give you my personal story so you can see how I came to identify with being polyamorous.
I was raised a traditional Catholic. I was brought up to believe in traditional gender roles and traditional marriage, but even in my teens and early twenties I felt that there was something wrong with me because I often found that I was in love with more than one woman at the same time. I’m not talking lust here, we all have that, but love. I truly loved two women at the same time. Loved them deeply. It was no more sexual than any other experience of being in love.
I found myself in this situation several times. Before I was married, I resolved this by deciding not to get involved with either woman, because I didn’t feel right choosing one over the other. After I was married, my solution was to ignore what I was feeling for the woman who I wasn’t married to, to the point of breaking off all communication so that I didn’t let my emotions get out of had for fear of breaking my vows or ruining my marriage.
I believed very strongly in the the promises I made to my wives (there are two of them at this point, both ex-wives, actually). I also emphatically believe that betraying a trust is wrong, in any circumstance. I have always been honest and faithful and will always strive to be so.
In my first marriage, she ended up cheating on me. This was excruciatingly painful and reinforced my believe that honesty and openness are paramount in any relationship. If she’d only told me that she was in love with someone else, I very probably would have accepted that, and maybe we would have stayed married and become polyamorous (even though I hadn’t even heard that term at that time). I certainly wouldn’t have had to endure the terrible pain of betrayal and rejection that I did.
In my second marriage, we split because of polyamory, specifically, because I identified with being polyamorous and was open and honest with her, but this was something she just could not accept. I completely understand that and hold nothing against her because of this.
So now I find myself alone for the first time in 25 years. I am making the most of this by getting back in touch with my artistic side and my emotional needs. Still, I know that I will have a very difficult time finding love when the time comes (right now I’m so not wanting anything but friendship). The reason I will have such a difficult time is that I have two social stigmas working against me: I’m an atheist and I’m polyamorous.
Even within the community of atheists and freethinkers I’ve been hesitant to come out as ploy for fear of rejection, but I have decided that, as with my atheism, I must be who I am and let people know that. I’ve hidden who I am for far too long and I refuse to do it any longer.
So, here I am, a polyamorous atheist. I’m out, I’m queer and I’m proud!
Right now, polyamory is flying so low under the radar that it doesn’t seem to have even registered on scopes of the traditional GLBT activist groups. There aren’t really any support groups to speak of in my area for poly people. I supposed I’ll have to start one, but I need to find out how to go about that.
So, you can now add poly to your definition of queer. We are here and we face as much social discrimination as those in the GLBT community, except that we are still where they were 30 years or more ago.
I’m willing to wade in and take on the fight. I’m hoping those of you out there reading this will learn more about polyamory and support us.