In my last post, I mentioned about someone I rode the bus with, after the poly gathering. He will be known as Nicholas and we’ve now seen each other a few times. This is his first poly relationship and I think he’s handling it pretty well; he’s expressed a desire to get to know Ben and he treats me well. On Saturday morning, I went with him to an event promoting an organization he belongs to. I know several people who have gone through their program and it seems to remake people’s lives. At the event, I talked to a woman who is going through their program and she asked me what I thought. I told her what struck me the most was the show of emotion when people talked about their lives and how they’ve changed as a result of the program; this got me thinking about the power of confession.
In our culture, we often speak about ‘coming out,’ especially when you live a life that goes against the norm. We construct a need for gay, poly, and other non-normative people to come out and confess their secrets. One consequence of this is that people who lead seemingly ‘normal’ lives don’t necessarily get that opportunity. In normal conversations, people don’t often confess an aspect of their life that the other person wouldn’t know, unless they asked specifically. This can occur in every type of relationship, including intimate ones. Why is it that non-normative folks need to come out when so-called ‘normal’ people don’t have that chance?
Ben and I often have conversations about labels, which I think feeds the need to come out. For me personally, I don’t like labelling my sexual orientation. Part of it is that I don’t like the word ‘bisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ just sounds odd to me. I don’t like calling myself ‘queer’ because I’m already weird. I also protest the fact that we have a need to label the person standing in front of us. Ben argues that labels should be descriptive, not prescriptive. What I feel is that labels in fact *are* prescriptive. We assume that gay people are a certain way, that poly people are a certain way. We also still assume that women love shopping and that men love sports when different people enjoy different pastimes.
For us polyamorous folks, I think many of us want to confess to our friends, family, and co-workers that we have more than one romantic relationship, but we fear the consequences. Some of my family members feel uncomfortable because of how public I am about my relationships and sexuality. Currently, I’m in Victoria, BC, where my grandmother, aunt, and uncle live. I went for a walk yesterday with my aunt and she told me that my uncle doesn’t think that his niece should be so public about her sex life. On the other hand, many people have commended me for my courage. For myself, I want people to know that there are poly people out there and that they have a choice when it comes to relationships. I don’t think poly is for everyone, but I think that if people want this life, they can have it. We just need to have a space in our society for people to confess if they wish to, and not be judged for it.
If you have a relationship query, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org To those of you who celebrate Christmas, merry Christmas! I hope my readers and their loved ones enjoy this holiday season. Ben and I are going to Washington state on Thursday and we greatly look forward to it.