Coming Out Polyamorous Blog Series

When I first wrote the Explaining Polyamory blog series I didn’t write an intro post but instead dove right into The Culture Gap. I’m fixing my oversight by adding an intro post 😉

So, that said, obviously this is the intro to a blog series on coming out as polyamorous. Specifically, coming out as polyamorous to family and friends. When I originally wrote this series I didn’t think about polyamory in terms of being “in the closet” so the idea of “coming out” as polyamorous just didn’t occur to me. But these days folks often do talk about coming out as polyamorous (and let me say here that I very much agree with the phrasing and the idea that someone can be closeted about being polyamorous.)

Anyway, from the first post in the series:

A while back, a question came up in the Yahoo! PolyResearch group about explaining polyamory to a loved one. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the question come up, and it stuck in the back of my mind as an idea worth exploring. (And these days, an idea that manages to stick in my mind has to be pretty impressive given everything competing with it for attention). I don’t expect this to become a huge series, but to keep it from being a wall o’ text, I’m gonna break it into two or three parts.

It is, in fact, a short series. About 6 posts which for this blog is positively tiny. But it says what it needs to say.

So yeah, we’re starting a new series. Check back next week for an updated review of the Culture Gap before we get into the nuts and bolts.

What Do You Owe Yourself?

This post is going to be a lot more personal and a lot less practical than most here, but I hope folks will find it meaningful.

There is a strong push towards individualism in the polyam community today. And long time readers may have noticed that this push doesn’t always sit well with me. I am a very communal person, especially for a white-privileged American.  Helping and supporting my community is important to me. Which is one of the reasons my nesting partner and I practice tzedakah.

Tzedakah is the Jewish mitzvah or duty to give back to our community. It’s usually translated as charity, but the implications and connotations of charity are all wrong. Yes tzedakah usually involved giving money. That’s all it has in common with what most people mean when they say charity. We give tzedakah not because other people need it (though they do) but because we owe it to ourselves to take care of our community and the people in our community.

So what does this have to do with polyamory?

Last week I wrote about the power of cash and the impact of money privilege on relationships. And I said that we don’t owe our partners money. And I stand by that.

But I also believe we owe it to ourselves to take care of our communities. Which is why a percentage of our household income each month goes to friends and polyam partners in need, to non-profit organizations that make the world a better place, to random calls for help on the internet.

Obviously, not everyone shares this philosophy. But if you haven’t yet–maybe ask yourself sometime what you owe yourself in terms of taking care of the people you love and the community you belong to. Whether you come up with a similar answer to mine or a very different one, it’s worth thinking about.

 

(I couldn’t manage a Father’s Day post this year, but wishing the best to all the dad’s out there.)

Friday Fiction Schedule Change

Hey folks, small change. From now on How Not to Save the World, the webserial I’ve been posting Fridays, will be updating every other week instead of the every week I was originally aiming for.

So you’ll see Ma’evoto/Trevor and his friends again next week, when we introduce a new character and get a look at some of Ma’evoto’s long term plans.

Polyamory and Children Guest Blog: Marmoset, Metamour and Ice Cream

Sadly, The Poly Man Whore stopped updating his blog a couple years ago, but you can still check out his old posts. Reposted: June 15, 2017

A few months ago, The Poly Man Whore put up a blog post about the night he and his daughter (the Marmoset) met his wife’s boyfriend (Mister Alvin). He’s been good enough to let me share some of his post, for an inside look on  how one poly family handles the first meet between kids and metamours.

My daughter, The Maromset, just met my wife’s boyfriend, Alvin. She shared the story at circle time at school. She saw Miss Jeanette all the time, but it was the first time that she met Mister Alvin. Even to a five year old, that is a Big Deal. The grown-up version of the double date was just as entertaining, so now is the time for me to share during circle time.

Mrs. Manwhore went over to Mister Alvin’s house, and then the two of them drove to Allyoucaneat-iban Sushi. Miss Jeanette came over to my house, so we met them there. Marmoset and her now-adult brother stayed home, with the promise of going to Tastee-Tastee Yogurt after dinner.

I’ve chatted with Alvin before when my wife and he would Facetime or Skype or talk on the speakerphone and I knew he was a decent enough guy, clearly caring deeply for Mrs. Manwhore, good sense of humor… Still, I got the feeling he was very willing to not like me at all. He is very new to the whole poly thing and I am sure he was concerned with how I would react to meeting the “man who is having sex with my wife.”

We walked into Allyoucaneat-iban and finally, he and I met. He had a good handshake and a nice smile. The Mrs. was very obviously nerve-wracked. The two of them sat across from Jeanette and me. The stress seemed to melt away pretty quickly, to me, anyway. My wife later told me that she was sweaty and stomach-clenchy all night long, but I thought it went really well…

After dinner, Jeanette and I went home to collect the Marmoset and had to Tastee-Tastee Yogurt. She was squeaking with excitement on our way over there, and when we got out of the car she went straight up to him and said, “Hi, Mister Alvin! I’m Marmoset!” She put her hand out, gave him a real handshake, and then went skipping off to the door of the yogurt store. I could not possibly be prouder of her.

Meanwhile, I took my wife aside and we had a little pep talk check-in moment. She was still very nervous. Hug, kiss, high-five, off we go! Inside for yogurt. Naturally, Marmoset’s concoction was of a singular magnitude, containing bits of stardust and faerie wings and cookie dough. We did some more talking, but mostly let the Marmoset steal the show. She and Mister Alvin played hide and seek in the yogurt store. Mister Alvin brought her a book from her favorite series and we read it. She did some dancing, she did some singing, she looked at the baby at the table behind us… Again, a really nice time.

The Poly Man Whore balances his family and several partners and is openly out as polyamorous in all areas of his life. He is not finding it at all difficult to date as a poly man and has a unique perspective that contributes to his poly success and offers up his distinct blend of bullshit free wisdom and advice to poly folk everywhere. He specializes in helping despairing and dateless poly men learn to stop their whining and start having relationships.

This post is part of the <a href=”http://polyamoryonpurpose.com/popular-blog-series/#ChildrenRaisedinPolyamorousRelationships”> Raising Children in Polyamorous Families</a> blog series.

<h2 style=”text-align: center;”>Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patreon.
(Originally posted May 2012)

The Power of Cash

I mentioned last week that for some people, entwining finances is less a matter of choice than of necessity. That necessity comes at a cost—the cost of autonomy and the risk someone having power over you.

The Power of Cash

A few days ago, I saw someone comment that they were solo poly because they’d rather struggle to raise their kids on their own with barely enough money to get by, then move in with any partner(s) knowing they could be homeless in an instant if they get kicked out. That this happens, often, is not addressed in general polyam discourse or discussions about money and relationships.

I’ve talked before about social hierarchy in relationships. Well, money can be a huge factor in that hierarchy. (Again, I am not talking about primary/secondary type hierarchy. I’m talking about the social status hierarchy that humans have because we are social animals. It’s a thing.)

In relationships with a large financial disparity—particularly situations where one or more people are financially dependent on their relationship partners, money gives power.

Many people would never use their income to take advantage of others. But in the US (with its almost complete lack of social safety net), you don’t need to take advantage of it. You get the advantage. And social safety nets are not perfect—even in places with a good social safety net, you can have an advantage.

Last year, my girlfriend and Michael and I were talking about her moving out here and all of us moving in together. It’s still an option, though I believe C prefers to move out of the country entirely. But one thing that came up was the huge difference in our incomes. Michael and I together make barely $10,000 a year. C makes multiples of that. In order for us to get a place large enough to live all together, the rent and most utilities and other “costs of living” would be firmly on C.

Now, Michael and I have two kids under 10 years old. Think about this: what do you think we would do to keep C happy if the alternative was being homeless again? Do you think we would let her have her way in a disagreement about how the apartment is set up? That we would avoid talking about things that upset her? That we would change our behavior in ways we didn’t like?

power of cash

You bet your ass we would.

C would never hold it over our heads, “do it my way or else.” She’s not that kind of person. But if Michael or I started seeing signs that she was unhappy with the living situation or our relationships, we would bend over backward to keep her happy.

And if we felt C wasn’t willing to listen and understand why her having money gave her this advantage, C would never know it. (Since C is someone we can talk about this kind of thing, we DID discuss it, explicitly, even while the idea of moving in together was only a hypothetical.)

In the long term, of course, this would be a disaster. Either we’d be emotionally wounded by constantly denying ourselves our needs, or Michael and/or I would start getting more money and start standing up for ourselves more—which would leave C feeling turned-on bc she would have had no idea there was a problem in the first place, or Michael and I would start looking for an escape route and get out, with C never knowing how exactly things got so bad between us.

Of course, it is possible (and desirable) that the relationship would evolve to where it would cease being “Michael and I” and C. But if it did, that wouldn’t change the power balance of ’C can survive without either or both Michael and Jess. Neither Michael nor Jess can survive on their own and they could barely stay afloat together.’

Now, if everyone living together is in a situation where they can barely support themselves, you get a different situation which isn’t as bad but is still not exactly healthy. At “best” you have a mutually assured destruction situation which means everyone is working to keep everyone else happy and looking over their shoulders worrying about “what happens if we fall apart.”

However, other aspects of social dynamics also come into play. If everyone is in the same boat financially, but two of them always support each other, they have an advantage over the other people in the home.

It’s Not All Extreme

I’ve been focusing on the extreme situations both because it happens a lot more often than people with enough money to survive comfortably think and because it’s easier to see the power imbalance when we are talking about the possibility of becoming homeless. But it plays out in other ways too.

Let’s say I start dating someone who lives nearby. We’re not interested in moving in together, just enjoy each other’s company. If I can afford transportation and they can’t, then I (because I have money) have more control over the relationship than they do. I can decide to stop visiting, can decide how often I visit, can decide if I pick them up or pay for a taxi so they can come to my place. If they want to go someplace and I don’t feel like driving that far, we aren’t going.

So, if I want to go someplace that’s a distance we can, if they want to go someplace that’s a distance, they need to get me to do the driving before we can go. Power imbalance.

And just like with the living situation, they are likely to agree to things they might not agree to otherwise to keep me happy—because if I decide that instead of coming over every week I’m only coming 2x a month bc it’s not worth the gas money, they can’t say, “Okay, well how about if you come here 2x a month and I go there 2x a month?” They have no room to negotiate or offer a compromise.

It’s About Consideration and Respect

So what do you do if you have more money than your connections? If you have this power over the relationship that they don’t?

First off, it should be obvious that you don’t owe anyone your money, your time, or a relationship. I’m not saying that you owe it to a broke partner to spend money on them. You don’t.

But like Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this case, the responsibility to make sure that you aren’t inadvertently hurting other people with your power.

What does that mean?

It means talking with your connections, acknowledging the power imbalance, and making sure that they feel safe talking with you about concerns and problems.

It means not getting resentful when you are the one doing all the driving or paying for the expensive restaurant that you wanted to go to.

It means not pressuring your connection to do expensive activities or making them feel ashamed because they can’t pay for a local Poly Cocktails event.

Perhaps most importantly it means making an effort to be sure that your connections are getting what they want and need in the relationship. They have an incentive to keep you happy that you don’t have—so you need to make an extra effort to be sure that you aren’t coasting.

This Isn’t Universal

Social dynamics are funny things. In my first triad, for several years almost our entire income came from one partner who actually had the least status and power in our relationship. He just got (unintentionally on my part) bowled over by my other partner and myself and didn’t know how to or feel safe asserting himself to us. It never occurred to me that he might take his income and move out (since we had a joint lease he couldn’t kick us out). If he had, my other partner and I would have been screwed. But because I didn’t think of it as a possibility, his power remained potential and not actual.

So there are times when the person with the most money ends up having the least power in a relationship. This isn’t a set-in-stone thing. But by-and-large, more money means more social status and more real-world power over a relationship. Especially when the people in a relationship aren’t married and things like alimony and fair division of assets will never come into play.

Remember: Power and Privilege Stack

If you are in a relationship where you benefit from couple privilege AND you have more money than your single or single-presenting partner, that gives more you more power than either money or couples privilege would give you alone. And people who are already getting shit from society—people who are trans, gay, people of color, disabled, mentally ill, etc (and especially multiple of these)—are more likely to be poor. So please, be aware of your power in a relationship. Don’t run roughshod over your partners without realizing it because you have money and they don’t.
This post is part of the Polyamory Finances blog series.

Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patreon.

Friday Fiction: The Toughest Battle (Yet)

First entry          Previous entry

The triumphant heroes took their bows and the screen faded to black. Wu shook zir head. “That was…”

“Classic.” Trevor spoke quietly, trying not to wake the child curled up in his lap.

“Not the word I was looking for. And I’m not sure how it got on your ‘Evil Overlord’ list. That trash compactor was never intended as a death trap.”

“Come on, the explosions? The laser beams you could see? The aerodynamic starships? You don’t see vids like this anymore.”

“For which blessing, I will make a large donation to the next artistic fundraiser that hits you up for money.”

“Ha.”

Trevor shifted, preparing to stand.

“Would you like me to take them to bed?”

Trevor shook his head and pushed himself up out of the person-eating couch. Ho’neheso stirred, opening their eyes to look at him a moment before snuggling back into his arms. “You’ve stood in for me too often the last few years. I’m grateful, but Ho’neheso needs me to step up and be their father again.”

Wu followed him as he carried them carefully to their new—and well protected—bedroom. “You never asked them to change their name.”

“No.” Trevor laid his child on their bed and pulled the covers up. “They lost so much already. As long as I could keep them hidden and out of the limelight…”

“And what of you? You no longer need to hide who you are.” They started back down the hallway towards Trevor’s rooms. “Taking an Anglo name made sense when you wanted to move unnoticed in North America. Even with the First Nations reclaiming so much of their land, Anglo is still the ‘norm’ north of Mexico.”

Trevor grunted. Wu only stated the obvious when zi was building towards something big.

“You will be remaking the world in a new image. As you once remade yourself. But is Trevor Frederickson the man who should be remaking the world? Or Ma’evoto?”

“Does it matter? I’m me, whatever I call myself.”

Wu shook zir head. “Deborah has some interesting things to say on the importance and meaning of names. And I believe some of the First Nations have similar beliefs.”

Trevor let himself collapse on his bed. ”Wu… just drop it. I can’t think about this right now.”

Wu said nothing. Trevor’s thoughts circled endlessly. Setting up ‘Trevor’ as a fake identity. The last time his saw his father. The day he read his obituary. The… No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t push the pain and the memories away. A sob caught in his throat.

With hard learned patience, he steadied his breathing. I control nothing if I cannot control myself. Stepped back from the painful memories and watched them. Looking for the meaning that tied them together. The belief behind the pain.

“Ma’evoto is dead,” he finally whispered, “They named him dead and did the rites. I walked away from that name, from that life. I killed him. There is nothing to go back to.”

“We live in an age of magic. Your servant would be honored to find a necromancer to resurrect him.”

“Ha. Ha.”

Wu knelt beside him, hand outstretched. Trevor sat up and rested a hand on Wu’s head. “What would you ask?”

“Only this. Does your soul does bleed for the loss of who you were? Tell your servant it does not and I swear by the heavens I will never speak of it again.”

“I…” Trevor couldn’t say it. “I can’t answer that.”

Wu’s head bowed further, hir hand pulled back to hir heart. “As you will.”

Trevor’s fingers tapped against the bed, quick and discordant. Never before had he refused Wu an answer. It was his right. But he had never…

He pushed himself up and began pacing the room. On his third circuit, Wu stood.
“With permission,” the dragon said, “your servant will retire for the night.”

Pacing wasn’t helping. The buzzing in his head grew worse. “Yes, go.” Another circuit before Wu reached the door. Quickening his steps brought him to the door as Wu opened it. “I’m sorry.”

Wu bowed. “Your servant will do all zi can. But I cannot fight your demons for you.”

“No.” Trevor smiled. “Zi can only precipitate the battle.” He stepped back from the door. “You can go if you want. But I would rather have you with me while I fight them.”

Wu closed the door. “Then I will stay.”

Polyamory and Children: What do I call Mom’s Boyfriend?

Changed to be inclusive of a wider variety of relationship styles and less heteronormative. Also fixed some typos. Updated June 7, 2017.

Step-parent, aunt, Jennie, Pop, Ma’am, Mr. Smith . . .

Basic rule of thumb: kids need a label for the adults in their lives. A box to put the adult in so they can know what their relationship with the adult is. Any time your kids ask what to call your SO, what they usually mean is, ‘What is this person to me?’

So before worrying about what your kids should call your SOs, take a minute to think about this: Just what is the relationship between your SOs and your kids? Are you raising you children from birth in a group marriage and all the spice are parents? Are you going to be introducing your teenage son to your girlfriend for the first time?

Group marriages who are raising children together tend to take one of two approaches to what I call ‘parent names’. Sometimes the non-biological parents choose terms that mean “Mother,” “Father” or “Parent” (Mama, Papa, Mad for English variants or use other languages—Ima is Hebrew for mom, Padre or Papa from Spanish, etc). Other times the non-biological parents are Aunt or Uncle or just their names. In these polycules, only the bio parents are called anything related to ‘mother’ or ‘father’.

You don’t need to discuss parent names with kids when you are raising them in a polyam relationship from a young age. The same as you never sit down with your toddler and say “I am your mother and you can call me ‘mom’.” You just walk into the room saying “Hi baby, mommy’s here!” and eventually baby learns that ‘mommy’ means you.

If you are introducing an older child to an SO for the first time, you probably want your kid and your SO to get along, but unless the SO is moving in with you or something, they don’t need to interact. So don’t make it complicated. As long as your SO agrees, you child(ren) can call them by their first name. No reason to make a big deal out of it.

Sometimes a previously unentwined or lightly entwined link becomes highly entwined, such as when moving in together. In these cases, advice given for helping kids adjust to having a new step-parent may be helpful. The short version is: let you kids know you want them and your SO to have a good relationship, but that relationship is up to them. They can start out calling your SO by their first name, and if later they decide they would like to call your SO aunt, uncle, Pop or something else, that is up to them. The message you want to give your child here is that they get to choose the label. The relationship they’ll have with your SO is up to them, and they won’t be forced into a relationship they aren’t comfortable with.

This blog post is past of the Raising Children in a Polyamorous Family blog series.

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Back to the Numbers: Finances and Budgeting for Polyam Folks

After a long break, I am finally ready to start writing new posts again. So moving forward, Sundays will be a new post each week while Thursdays will continue with the updates and revisions of old posts. Michon Neal will continue posting hir thoughts and writings on Tuesdays.

For new posts, I’m going back to an unfinished blog series—Finances and Budgeting.

Something I didn’t address when I started this series is that finance and budgeting needs vary depending on how much money you have. The choice to be financially entwined or not looks different for people with lots of disposable income vs people who can barely afford rent.

I’ve been on both sides of this. I grew up in a family with LOTS of disposable income. The McMansions of the 90s and 00s could have been modeled off the home my parents had custom built. And for nearly 10 years I’ve been keeping my family afloat on less than $10,000 a year. We’ve been homeless, lived without heat, and had our electric shut off more times than I can count.

Financial Advice is Not One-Size-Fits-All

The vast majority of that time, the financial advice I’ve seen was written for people who have more money than they need to survive. Budgeting is a wonderful tool when you have enough money and need to figure out how to stretch it. It is not so useful when you have more bills than income, and your only bills are rent and utilities.

So that is where I am coming from writing this series. Some posts and suggestions will be geared towards people who have disposable income. Others are more for folks who are scraping for rent. Sometimes I will talk about financial entwinement as a choice people make. Sometimes I will talk about it as a survival necessity. Because it can be both, depending on your situation and the situation of your partners.

This post is part of the Polyamory Finances blog series.

Want more great articles? Support Polyamory on Purpose on Patreon.

Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous, Blog Hiatus, and Personal Stuff

I keep saying I’m going to start posting snippets from Safer Sex on my Patreon page. Time to finally get my shit together and do it. For the next several weeks I’ll be sharing sections from Safer Sex for the Non-Monogamous 3 times a week. These will be Patron only posts and the snippets won’t be final drafts. So expect typos and such, but they’ve been through first round edits so the general content shouldn’t change much between now and publishing.
I am, as usually, running behind schedule. But if I can keep on my current pace I can be ready to send the manuscript out my sensitivity editor in June, for an early August publication. So I’m not yet at my goal of a book every 6 months, but I’m getting closer.
Re: the blog.
As predicted, custody shit has stirred up all my mental illnesses, so posting went to hell. Rather than scramble to catch up, I’ll be writing/editing posts as I can and holding them to build back the buffer I lost a couple month ago. Once I have a two week buffer again I’ll resume posting on the website.
And since I mentioned custody shit–let me just say that it is going far better (and fast) than I expected. Court in is two weeks, so fingers crossed!

5 Reasons Cishet Polya Folks Probably Shouldn’t Claim to Be Queer, Even Though You May Really Want To

Apologies for the late post; it’s been an eventful day! Here is an updated article originally published on Postmodern Woman.

Yay polyamory! Non-Monogamy has been making the rounds lately as the “mainstream” (read straight, USian or British or Canadian, cis, and usually white) discover that love doesn’t have to be as limiting and lonely as we’ve been told. Hell, we’ve finally started discussing abuse culture, how to be more inclusive and less oppressive, and breaking down amatonormative assumptions (primarily around the idea that your partner belongs to you).

More and more people are learning about things like compersion, intimate friendships, and open and honest communication. And that’s an absolutely great thing! Many of the tools and skills that people learn to hone while engaging in polyamory carry over into other aspects of life not remotely related to romance and sex.

There’s a lot of great potential within non-monogamous communities to revolutionize the way people tend to approach intimacy in general. It opens up conversations about the ways in which people meet their needs and can encourage people of any relationship orientation towards healthier behaviors.

But a potentially troublesome trend has come along with all of the attention: many of you cishet people keep claiming a queer identity, rooted in the fact that you are polyamorous.

Here’s why that may not be cool, even if it might seem like you’re doing it out of solidarity.


First of All, It’s Inaccurate

Even though non-monogamy can be an inborn orientation, many of you choose to be non-monogamous. Much like the excitement over the wildly inaccurate 50 Shades of Grey, this discovery of a sexy, potentially exciting venture was likely presented to you through mainstream means. Perhaps you’ve read The Ethical Slut, More Than Two, or other fairly popular books on non-monogamy. Maybe you read about this new trend in a magazine or some HBO show.

While it’s great that there’s such an influx of representation of non-monogamous relationships, be wary that it’s still not fully, or even accurately, representative of the diverse populations within non-monogamy. There’s still a huge issue with retention of queer, Black, poor, and disabled polya folk. Even books, fiction, and movies that deal with polyamory present it as a choice that comes after the fact, after trying to be monogamous, or as some way of avoiding commitment.

Think about why that is.

Even if we get to see a sort of happy-ever-after ending, we don’t actually get to see any examples of fully healthy polya relationships, or stories of people who grew up healthily polya, or of those whose relationship orientation is inherent in the way that their sexuality and/or gender is.

More specifically, outside of the cuilverse, diverse, healthy, queer, and poly-as-orientation doesn’t seem to exist in entertainment.

Given that the main representation is already mostly cis and straight and white people who’ve made a clear decision to be non-monogamous, the P for polya doesn’t quite make sense in the queer movement.

Speaking of which,


It Erases Those of Us Who Actually Are Queer

Those of us who are both non-monogamous and queer find ourselves floating around in the background while you folks tend to get the attention. This is a serious problem. It’s not something intentional, we’re sure of it.

It’s just that, in efforts to make non-monogamy more palatable to the masses, it’s much easier to get the idea past filters if the participants are otherwise “normal”. Since media and entertainment work the way they do, it necessarily means that us queers end up with the short end of the stick. Even worse, when you are straight and cis, claiming that your polyamory is queer obfuscates the meaning. It makes people who are queer in every other way less visible. It centers, once again, heteropatriarchal values and experiences.

Being queer and polya is a vastly different experience than being straight and polya.

Did you not realize that our experiences even differ?

Well, keep this in mind…

Much of Cishet Non-Monogamy Has More in Common With Monogamy +

Most straight cis people lead fairly straightforward lives. Or at least, more recognizable lives. You don’t spend your lives fighting against the amatonormative current. Even if you do, there are still many things you’ll never experience as a cis straight person.

For this reason, many of you only have your normative history to draw on. Even if your polyamory is your orientation rather than your choice, your most likely approach often ends up like Frankin Veaux’s in The Game Changer. Years, or even decades of relationships built on the idea of monogamy plus one.

What do I mean by that exactly? Monogamy plus one is the reason the non-monogamous communities even have terms like hierarchy, secondary, tertiary, polyfidelity, etc and the reason particular non-monogamies like Relationship Anarchy, solo polyamory, relationship fluid, and others have appeared as a way to push back against it.

There even exists out there now a “Secondary’s Bill of Relationship Rights”!

I’m not saying that being a secondary or wanting a polyfidelitous relationship is wrong or worse, just that it took so much pain, anguish, jealousy, guilt, and mistakes to get to the point where the community is finally openly discussing how these attitudes can be abusive, divisive, and harmful.

Because much of straight, cis, well-off mono culture is built upon the amatonormative arm of abuse culture in general (more on that in a later post), straight cis people within polya communities tend to repeat the same mistakes, perpetuate the same imbalances, and tread the same ground as people who are monogamous.

But why would that bother queer polya people so much? It’s not like they invented the modern form of polyamory or anything.


It Is Appropriative for Cishets to Claim Polya as Queerness

Much as Dolezal is given the side-eye for claiming recent Black ancestry, many queer people are wary of cishet people saying they are queer. It’s rude especially when you keep in mind that way before Ethical Slut, there existed polyamory within the U.S.

A polyamory that was queer and Black and anarchic. Queer history is still not really taught widely, so you might not even realize that it was kinky queer weirdos like myself who initially rejected the trappings of the white picket fence, marriage, and kids that culture forces down everyone’s throat. It’s not that none of us want those things, we simply found them on our own terms.
The same went for our love lives. Why should we keep the same attitudes of the society that oppressed us? Before the missionaries arrived (and still do arrive), many other nations and tribes were non-monogamous. That much is known, because the history of Blacks in any country, in addition to isolated peoples, are often cited as examples of why non-monogamy is more “natural” or to justify why it’s okay to practice.

You might not actually know that this is a bit of an insult. Non-Monogamy, like much of culture in general, has now circled so far around that it has to be reintroduced to the types of people who had been doing it all along. I raise my eyebrows at all of it because that’s some next-level Columbusing right there!
But all that aside, if you are cishet and you do understand the history of non-monogamy and are sensitive to your queer friends, can’t you still claim queerness in the name of solidarity? It’s not like with Dolezal, right?
Unlike acting or pretending to be Black, you can absolutely participate in queer acts. And that’s ok. But, there’s still a problem because…


Queer Acts Does Not an Identity Make

While people of any orientation whatsoever can certainly behave queerly, there’s still a distinction. Queer acts aren’t the same as queer identities.

Even if I were to behave as if I’m cis and straight, my identity would always be queer. Just as being with one gender or another doesn’t erase queerness, it also doesn’t validate queerness. It doesn’t even matter if you are non-mono by predilection and not simply by choice.

While my polyamory is my orientation, too, it is based on my queer identity — meaning that by definition and existence, I am not, never will be, and do not seek to be normal! My identities create a unique shape upon which my interactions rest. That’s something that cannot and will never change. My polyamorous nature grows out of my autism, my genderqueerness, my pansexuality, my noetisexuality, my other forms of queerness, and most notably my aromanticism. It is inextricably tied to my many queer identities and experiences.

I don’t know if it’s like that for other queer, disabled, POC polya people. But that’s for them to decide. Not even everyone in the LGBTQIA+ community is queer, and there’s even less of an overlap between queer and cis populations.

While you may participate in queer events and acts like kink, non-monogamy, and other things, I guarantee you’ve never (and will never) be oppressed because of it if you otherwise fit into the dominant culture. We queers are still considered dangerous and deviant, and many of us exist at the center of intersecting oppressions based on disability, race, poverty, gender, and neurodivergence.

That’s important to keep in mind. Queer has a very specific definition, it is a very specific perspective, and it has a distinct history. Despite the inclusive ground it covers, it most likely will not ever cover an cishet person, not even a polya one.

Most of you will never be oppressed for being non-monogamous like we are and have been. There’s a reason it’s more acceptable to be non-monogamous now, and that’s mostly because the main stories are those of cishets like you. The queer stories have been washed away, considered too much to take in, and too transgressive.

You’re not doing us any favors by saying you’re one of us, especially if the politics and privilege of your desires have never been fully examined, altered, or decolonized.


But don’t fret. You can certainly still support your queer poly family and friends. Be inclusive of us, acknowledge our history, and don’t participate in Columbusing; we get a lot of that in other areas of our lives already.

You can take your proper place as an ally, or better yet as an accomplice, learning from us instead of leaving us behind. You can appreciate us without obscuring our identity by claiming it. And when you’re ready to extricate yourself fully from the norm, then maybe we’ll reconsider.