Friday, August 12, 2011

Coming Out As Poly When Monogamous Fronts Are Expected

Once again, I direct you to Polly’s great blog. This time, she wrote about “Coming out and out and out,” explaining that coming out is a process, not an event.

I have found that I no longer think of my family as a big deal, so when I mention my two partners off-handedly to people who don't know us, I get some strange looks. And I end up having to backpedal a bit, and decide whether I will fill in the blanks for them. Sometimes I have conversations that are annoying (like the one I mentioned in my last post), and sometimes people are amazingly good at going with the flow. Occasionally, I am aware of active hostility towards our family style, and that I am being labeled as The Slippery Slope Result They Warned Us About. Interestingly, we've had the most difficulty in our extended family circles, and almost complete ease with our friends. Strangers are a mixed bag.

I’ll get back to that below.

I recently registered our children for school and sports and such, and it's always a challenge to make it clear that we have three responsible adults at home, while trying to fit our information into forms that make monogamous assumptions. I end up putting one adult or another into the area reserved for ex-husbands or wives who should be kept in the loop about a child's activities, but putting the same address and contact information down.

I’m thinking forms like those should be organized with “First Contact, Second Contact, Third Contact, and Fourth Contact,” or something like that, which could fit not only poly people, but when there are two legal parents and two stepparents. There could also be a box to check that indicates which of the contacts MUST be contacted.

Read the whole thing, especially if you want a sense of what polyamorous people, especially parents, have to deal with every day because of assumptions that everyone is monogamous (even though we all know people don’t really believe that just about everyone is monogamous.)

The subtle/gentle approach to coming out to someone close or to a group can be good.

There are some people who will be disgusted, and may even rudely express their disgust or disapproval. There's no pleasing such narrow-minded finger-waggers, no matter how gently you speak the truth about yourself.

Others may be caught off guard and might be clumsy in their initial reaction, but the more they think about it, the more friendly and supportive they are. That is why full marriage equality will happen.

Some people just do not care either way. All they care about if whether your presence makes life more difficult for them or not. ("As long as you don't smell bad and aren't otherwise annoying, I don't care!")

And then there the people who immediately say "Cool!" or "I knew it!" or... even... "Hey, you're like us!"

It is still hard for most LGBT people to come out; they still face much backlash. However, LGBT and civil rights organizations have amassed much experience that can be of help to polyamorous people and consanguinamorous people when coming out, so anyone who wants to come out, whether as LGBT, poly, and/or consanguinamorous, should learn from those who have gone before.
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