Stephanie Farnsworth argues why the community needs to start being inclusive towards polyamorous queer people.
This isn’t another debate on whether allocishet polyamorous people are part of the queer community, but the queer world does need to be more inclusive towards polyamory. Look at the marketing for LGBTQ+ people. Trans people are rarely mentioned, bi people are non-existent and all same gender relationships are depicted as romantic, sexual and always between two people.
LGBTQ+ imagery has been carefully considered by activists over the years. The erasure of polyamory didn’t spring up by accident. To counter the notion that queer people were obsessed with sex and debauchery, the community put forward carefully constructed images showing how queer people could be assimilated into straight society. Polyamory had to be deleted from the community to win approval. People still assume that having multiple partners means being amoral.
The erasure of polyamory didn’t spring up by accident.
However, queer people can be polyamorous. It’s not a stain on the community. If we want to be proud every damn summer then we have to take pride in our whole community, not just the bits that look good on a poster. A bi woman in a relationship with two men (who aren’t dating each other) is still queer and should still be made to feel welcome in queer spaces.
Monogamy shouldn’t be the assumed default for every relationship. Polyamorous people can also choose to have a monogamous relationship and vice versa. Relationships are specific to the people involved. There really isn’t a one size fits all so when the LGBTQ+ community starts trying to enforce any norms then it’s completely lost its way.
There’s a myth that polyamorous people feel superior. Polyamory isn’t a better way but if your monogamy is based on exclusive ownership then you’re doing relationships wrong. Monogamy is just as valid, complex and beautiful but it also should be carefully considered. Why is it that just being in a poly relationship requires discussion? Why does monogamy get a free pass from scrutiny?
Polyamory isn’t a better way but if your monogamy is based on exclusive ownership then you’re doing relationships wrong.
Society has taught us that monogamy is the default and has conflated it with possession. We can’t ever have crushes on other people, we can’t like other people’s Instagram photos and we can’t have dinner with someone of a different gender. Such horrific messages are damaging to monogamous people. Polyamory should be up for discussion because it makes monogamy stronger. People deserve to be able to talk about all forms of a relationship they want, they’re allowed to change their mind and they should be free to express themselves. By considering every option then it means there’s no chance of settling and the end choice is something wanted by all parties, not just something that was subconsciously selected by default.
Communication is key in every relationship but it’s not just one conversation of “let’s see other people”. It’s awkward, embarrassing and sometimes painful conversations because ultimately, experiencing them and working through things together is what makes any relationship stronger. That’s not to say there isn’t jealousy at all. Of course there may be be, but it doesn’t limit experiences. When your partner tells you they’ve connected with someone amazing then yeah, there’s a bit of a pang but ultimately, it’s incredible because why should there be upset when they’ve found someone who is making them even happier?
Polyamory isn’t for everyone and nor is monogamy. There’s incredible grey areas too where people may want to tread a line between an exclusive relationship with one person but then wonder how to explore a connection with someone else. It doesn’t necessarily have to be overtly romantic or sexual.
Relationships are so complex that when we try to pigeon hole them we rob ourselves of the beautiful mess of life. If the binary monogamy way of life is for you then you’re queer enough. If relationships with multiple people is for you then you’re still queer enough. When we erase the whole spectrum of relationships however, then we can’t discuss how to support polyamorous people experiencing domestic violence, we can’t offer reassurance to confused queer young people who are uncertain about who they’re attracted to and how to have relationships. It’s only by having an open approach to relationships and identities that we can achieve equality and liberation for all LGBTQ+ people.
Follow Stephanie (@StephFarnsworth) on Twitter.