I’ve always been aware of discrimination. Sexism, homophobia, racism, all are blatant in our society. But all are also protected from discrimination by law. Our anti-discrimination laws are becoming increasingly stringent. If, for example, I wanted to rent a house with my girlfriend, anti-discrimination laws prevent me from being refused to rent by the landlord because of my sexuality or from having complaints lodged against me by neighbours because of the homosexual sex I’d be having. However, as it happens, I want to rent a house with my girlfriend AND my boyfriend, and I want to partake in consensual fetish and BDSM activities within that house. Neither my neighbour or my landlord have anything to prevent them from refusing to rent to me or getting me evicted on either of these grounds.
So I suppose I’m experiencing a new (old), kind of discrimination. Discrimination that is unchecked, that is condoned by society. It feels a little like stepping back into the 50s. It also feels kind of…scary.
Before I go any further, let’s quickly clear a couple of things up. I’m polyamorous. And no, that doesn’t mean that I cheat on my boyfriend, or that I’m unable to commit, or that I’m a huge slut. In terms of attractiveness to a landlord, my thruple relationship should be a big plus. There are three of us to pick up the rent, much like renting to sharers, but unlike sharers, we’re committed to each other just like a professional couple would be.
And I’m kinky. And this shouldn’t have any effect on my attractiveness to a landlord. OK, there might occasionally be some loud(ish) noises coming from my bedroom that could annoy a neighbour, but nowhere near as loud or annoying as the experience of living next to a constantly arguing couple, partying students, or a family with a young baby.
So really, it all comes down to the moral ‘rightness’ of my ‘choices’. Kink can be scary if you don’t know anything about it, but I play safely, sanely and consensually at all times, so really, what makes my knickers wet shouldn’t concern anyone who’s not involved. Poly is often misconstrued as well, but really, why should loving two people make me any less of a ‘normal’ person than loving one? We admit that it’s natural to love more than one of your children with the same intensity, so why shouldn’t it be natural for me to feel romantic love for two people at the same time? After all, a lot of people do it, they just don’t tell either of the two people what’s going on (also known as ‘cheating’). Poly is all about communication and honesty, and being in polyamorous relationships have definitely required more communication and honesty than my monogamous relationships have ever done.
Maybe I’m overreacting: maybe if I told my landlord the truth about myself, they’d be ok with everything. Maybe they’re an enlightened soul who’d never dream of judging me based on my sexual and romantic private life. But, unlike a gay or mixed-race person, I have no protection against people arbitrarily shitting on me because of who I am. I could be evicted. I could lose my job. If I had children, I could lose the right to see them. Because of who I am. Because I do things, consensual things, that society thinks are wrong.
Where do we poly kinksters go from here, then? Well, how did women, ethnic minorities and LGBT people win legal protections? They fought. They died. They were tortured. They were lynched. They were raped. They still fought.
I wish it wasn’t necessary to fight for the right to be who I am. But sadly, it is. Laws reflect society’s attitude, and the attitude of my society needs changing. But it won’t change while we ‘different’ people are hiding in our homes, scared to be who we are, scared to be visible in society. I suppose we’ll be hurt for it. I suppose we’ll be bullied, ostracised. Some of us may lose our lives. But we’ve seen this fight played out enough times now, for enough minority (and non-minority) groups, to know that, in the end, we will win.