Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Poly: Out or Closeted?

Over at Polyamory Paradigm, that ever-important question is considered: Coming out of the poly closet.

Most polyfolk I speak with are selectively open about their lifestyle. That is to say their family might know but co-workers don't. Or maybe co-workers and friends know but their family doesn't. Maybe their online life shows their lifestyle whereas their real daily life doesn't. The combination of people who know vs. those who don't seems to be almost endless. And as with the combinations, the reasons vary widely as well.

There are some practical examples of answers to questions others are likely to ask.

Part of my behavior is based on a very simple belief; My personal life is my own and nobody, again NOBODY, has a right to know or judge my personal life but myself and my partners.

What he said.

Polly also had something to say about this topic.

She wants to be out and open, but has concerns.

I worry about what coming out completely would mean - especially for my kids. I don't want them to be stressed by others judging our family. On the other hand, I would feel really relieved to know that we are living as honestly as possible. How do I protect my kids from others' stupidity? Am I running the risk of social services showing up at my door to take my children away?

It is the same think that LGBT people have gone through and in some places are still going through. We’ve also seen consanguineous couples in the news, usually being charged with crimes, after they were outed.

Nobody should live in fear because of who they love.

The hardest thing about being me at the moment is the feeling that I am living a secret life.

I wish more people would see the hurt they are causing the people they are supposed to love.

I worry that if I come out to everyone, I will find out how many more people can make a sudden decision to despise me because I am poly. I have to weigh the stress of that worry (and the possibility of bad reactions) against the stress of continuing to live in the closet.

It is easy for people to write letters to newspapers or leave a comment on a news site trashing poly people. Perhaps the way to come out, if you have the kind of relationship that is more of a life together rather than mere sex, is to let friends and relatives see you interacting at the same time with all of your loves. If they see all of you talking, laughing, holding hands, and hosting them, they’ll see what a good thing it is. If more people realized that people they know are poly, they might be more accepting of polyamory in general. We have seen this happen with children who come out to their parends as LGBT. Some parents are supportive from the start. Others react so badly they kick their own children out - something a poly adult doesn't have to worry so much about. Many parents, however, fall somewhere between, and realize that they love their children (or the siblings love their siblings) and they get to see that there is real love involved that deserves respect.
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