On being invisible and unprotected

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.

Coming Out: Polyamorous

Here, in the ‘Coming Out’ series of posts, I write on a different topic every time. Generally they will be stories of me coming to terms/coming out about various ‘taboo’ subjects. These posts are a blend of the personal and political, so stay with me!

So. I am polyamorous. This is a very new discovery. I’ve only realised this in the last couple of months.

Some misconceptions about polyamory.

1. I’M NOT A SWINGER.
Swingers have sex with other couples/partners in a non emotionally intimate way. Poly-amory literally means many-loves, and although my partner and I will ‘play’ with people we’re not emotionally attached to, that is not polyamory, and the people that we are polyamorous with mean something to us. I care about these people deeply. I offer, and receive from them, the same level of emotional support and care that I offer and receive in my relationship with my live-in partner. I am open to the potential of a live-in relationship with more than one other person.

2. IT IS NOT A CHOICE.
I like to call it ‘relationship orientation’. Like sexual orientation, it is not something that I’ve chosen. Like sexual orientation, it fluctuates and changes throughout my life. Many people would not be suited to intense emotional and romantic relationships with multiple partners. But to me, discovering that I am polyamorous is like coming home. I’ve always been a very tactile person and a very loving person, and always had an excess of love and loyalty to give. Having multiple partners allows me to give and receive as much love as I have always wanted to without holding back. It’s just right for me, in the same way is it feels right for me to be with both women and men.

Politically….polyamory is difficult. Simply put, society seems to view polyamory these days in a similar way to how it viewed homosexuality thirty years ago. We have no legal rights. Our marriages are illegal. Our practices are frowned on. Being in multiple relationships is regarded as cheating, when actually, central to polyamory is being open and honest with all partners about outside relationships.

My opinions of marriage have changed as well. I’ve suddenly been given new insight into how it feels to be outcast from society’s narrow ideas of what the main ‘acceptable’ idea of relationships are. And it makes me angry. Marriage doesn’t mean much to me, with its’ history of religious and ownership connotations. However, it means a lot to society, and having your relationship denied by society, when it’s a consensual loving relationship, is intolerable.

Coming out as polyamorous is harder than coming out as bisexual has been. I’m still not fully out because I know that judgement is rife against polyamorous relationships. Mainly because of misconceptions I think. Still, I’m not ashamed of who I want to love, and how I want to love, and whatever the reactions are to my lifestyle, I won’t be shamed out of what is the best expression of who and what I am.