I’ve been thinking about all the things the Momentum conference brought up in my mind, and as it’s officially an entire week since the conference was over, I’ll try to put an end to my musings specifically related to it here and move on a bit with the blog. So let me try to state this simply and not-too-long-windedly:
Whew. There, that was pretty easy. Funny I was hung up on it for so long. But I was. I feel like I just “came out” to my readers, but that’s silly, since I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I have at least one female and male lover for a while now, both here on the blog and on WHACK! Magazine, and though I doubt many of you have been following along all that closely or thinking a whole lot about it, it’s not exactly particle physics. It’s kind of out there.
But I’ve long held onto this “I don’t want to put labels on it” mentality, partly out of, I think, fear. Fear that, as someone who’s already labeled a porn and sex writer with a past in go-go dancing and researching swinging here in New York, I’d be easy to kick into the “weirdo” corner. Fear that if my relationship status were public along with my thoughts on performative sex, sex work, feminism, and etc, I’d lose some of my “everyman” appeal and become just another sex-crazed bohemian whack job. And, well, maybe I am. I guess I can’t very well judge that for myself. But the sad truth is that people who live alternative lfiestyles and who openly label themselves to fit into a category are easier to write off as lunatics, nut-jobs, and so on.
I didn’t want that. I’ve been told that a lot of my appeal as a writer is that I’m normal, but I talk about things that a lot of normal people don’t like to talk about. My voice is understandable, approachable. I’m just a regular person who got caught up in this world of sex and porn and found it rather interesting. And I was afraid that if I announced it to the world, I’d no longer be a “regular person” people wanted to listen to.
Also, I think I wanted to be able to tell myself I wasn’t living this way because I wanted to be part of a group or follow some ideology that someone somewhere set up. I didn’t want to be a follower of Heinlein or subscribe to some set of rules that I didn’t know existed just because a lot of poly people do that. I wanted to be doing this on my own terms, because there are two people I love and respect and want to be intimate with, and I didn’t want to end up beholden to a meet-up group or a set of principles that had nothing to do with me. I want to be my own person, dammit!
But at Momentum, I attended a panel on non-monogamy where we discussed the in-fighting that goes on the sex-positive community. Swingers often dislike poly people and vice versa, master/slave couples are often contemptuous of more causal sub/dom people, and so forth. And I realized that in order to be proudly poly, I don’t have to follow a group or a leader or a set of rules, but I do have to respect people who do and be happy that they are living their lives in the open as much as they can. The more of us in non-traditional relationship models who stick together and help each other out in public, the stronger we are! The important part is that we are doing it and being unashamed of ourselves and our lives, providing public models of non-standard relationships that people can see, and maybe gawk at, but at least be exposed to. Even if they’re laughing at us or terrified by us, our presence in the world, out and open and happy and living ethically and responsibly even in our fringe lifestyles, can make people think about relationships and the many ways they can form and grow and thrive. I never expected to be a poly person, really. I just give all of myself in every relationship. I form deep, attached friendships and even more attached romances, and I find that I feel more fulfilled and able to fulfill others when I give that love more liberally. Love is, as they say, a never-ending resource. The more you give, the more you have to give. And I find that to be true. And so maybe I’m not as “normal” as I wish I was, but as a writer and thinker who’s here to help other people open their minds, hearts, and lives up to an acceptance of sex and pornography and alternative lifestyles, it would be hypocritical and damaging for me to continue to hold back my whole truth. I’m poly. And I’m happy to be so.
At Momentum, I also realized that it’s important for “normal people” like me, and most other poly people, most likely, to be voices for our little corner of the population. I won’t make any radical declarations about being “the voice of the community,” since I’m still not sure I want to get deeply involved in a group mentality about a very private part of my life. I may very well not be poly forever, and I don’t want to go around now saying things I’ll regret later. But that’s the beautiful thing about being open to these ideas and recognizing that applying a label to myself doesn’t meant the end of individuality: I am myself and I am this way now, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be something else later on. And what I know myself to be, after having heard it many times, is a “normal” person who happens to believe in non-monogamy. The idea of polyamory, polyfidelity, and hundreds of other non-typical lifestyle models can be daunting to most mainstream people, but in the end these models aren’t difficult to figure out or to then respect. One just has to be open to hearing about them. And as someone who believes that everyone should be able to decide what relationship model fits them best, and that some people may never try anything new if they don’t know it exists, I want to share my life and my experiences in a “normal” way. I want to be able to field questions if people have them. I want to make this part of my life accessible to anyone who’s curious, interested, or even appalled. Because it’s not what I am or what defines me, but it’s part of me, and you know what? Since I’ve thought about this, I’ve introduced myself to several people as poly. I’ve casually mentioned my girlfriend and my boyfriend in the same breath. And hardly anyone has batted an eye.
So here I am, in the sunlight! It feels pretty good.