Welcome to Queerly Poly! Today is a big day. To (hopefully) many readers, this will serve as my coming out day.
I’m coming out about a lot of things today. I’m coming out as queer. To me, this means that whether or not I am attracted to someone usually has nothing to do with their gender identity or what they’ve got between their legs. I’m more of a ‘hearts not parts’ kind of gal. I choose to use the word queer, because it also reflects how I choose to live my life (anti-status quo and always, always queering and questioning the world around me).
I’m also coming out as polyamorous/non-monogamous, this means that for me, monogamy just isn’t right. I’ve found that to truly be myself I need the freedom to explore multiple relationships, and for my interactions with other people to exist in their best possible form, rather than having to keep relationships, friendships and people in certain boxes because of my connection with someone else.
My younger self had a serial-monogamy habit- I would be with one person, who was completely wonderful and who I loved very much, and then I would meet someone else. Who was also wonderful and lovely, and who I also loved very much. But I was told that I needed to choose between the two- surely I couldn’t love them both. I ALWAYS resented having to make that choice, and it inevitably put immense pressure or mistrust into whichever relationship I chose.
At one point, I was introduced to the idea that maybe I didn’t have to choose. Maybe there was another way. Maybe I could stay with the person I was with, while exploring that new relationship, too. If everyone was on board, and we were all honest about our goals and intentions and feelings, it could maybe work out.
And then I found the right people that were willing to do just that: to explore those uncharted waters with me. Spoiler alert: it was amazing. It was also difficult, and tearful, gut wrenching, and wonderful. Because that’s how becoming yourself is. It’s a tough journey, and sometimes you may get a little hurt along the way. But when you’re on the right path, and becoming who you are, it’s all worth it. I promise.
I have a few reasons for choosing to come out right now. The first is that it’s a pretty scary time right now for people that are different. With increasing regularity, bills and efforts to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ individuals are being brought forth. If you’re a straight person, and have found yourself thinking “I don’t think these bills are a big deal, because I don’t really know anyone that will be affected by them,” now you know one person.
When you’re thinking about the ramifications of a bill, or you hear people making generalizations about “LGBT People” or “gay people” or even slurs, I want you to substitute in my name. I want you to see how that argument feels then. Because we’re not just a collection of letters that is sometimes hard to remember. We are people. We each have our own incredible stories to tell. We are your fellow Americans that you grew up with, met in college, have worked with, or are facebook friends with. We are here, we’re not going anywhere, and it would be awesome if you got to know us!
The second reason for my coming out is that I do a lot in my community with other queer and/or polyamorous people. I run a book club for queer women, a social group for non-monogamous folks, and a lot of my day to day thoughts revolve around queerness and non-traditional relationships. This is all a huge part of who I am! And if I’m feeling the need to censor myself, then I’m not cultivating the kind of honesty in myself that I would like to see reflected in those around me.
Speaking of honesty: consent culture is also something that I’m passionate about.
And I’m also coming out today as survivor of sexual assault. My senior year of high school, I was sexually assaulted by a classmate in a room full of our sleeping peers. The shame I felt prevented me from speaking up, and he went on to do the same thing to another person a short time later. I’ve spent years trying to navigate my way through the anger, fear, guilt, shame and other emotions that come with having lived that experience. Although I do still feel anger towards that person, I ultimately feel something bigger.
I feel a responsibility to have those difficult conversations about consent and respect in relationships, and taking care of our friends and ourselves. I truly believe that even though that person did a terrible thing to me, it was at least partially the inevitable result of a terrible cultural education about how to treat people. My inability to say ‘no’ in a way that he could understand, or to hold him accountable after the fact was also the product of a woefully incomplete cultural education about sex and relationships.
I’m coming out today because I am committed to having those difficult conversations, and doing what I can to change the current culture. I am committed to including people that have had different experiences than me, and to doing what I can to change the conversation, to contribute to a better cultural education model. This means that you'll also be seeing articles from other folks; my hope is for Queerly Poly to become a hub for many voices, all with their own ideas and beliefs about these topics. It's going to be a great journey.
I believe that the world can be a better place for everyone. I believe that if we start small and with honesty, and we work with those around us the whole way, we can create change. If we can find the right people that are willing to explore those uncharted waters with us, (spoiler alert): it will be amazing. It will also be difficult, and tearful, gut wrenching, and wonderful. Because that’s how becoming ourselves is. It’s a tough journey, but when you’re on the right path, it’s worth it. I promise.