Last time we talked about this, it was Gay Pride Month, I was discussing the general premise of who in the ethically non-monogamous community is most likely to consider polyamory an orientation or identity, and I was explaining why I historically land on the side of mostly, “no, not really.”
It’s 2020, so just about every month has been a year, and I’ve had some changes in thought patterns. I want to share with you all both my new thoughts, and why and how I came to them. To some extent, this has been a slow and inevitable shift - I’ve known ‘how to describe myself in terms of relationship orientation’ since before I was a proponent of doing so, and as I discussed in episode 7 of the podcast, that’s as ambiamorous - I can imagine myself quite happy in the right kind of monogamous relationship (but one hasn’t come offering when I’ve been single or with only one person who had one to offer), and I’ve been very happy in many polyamorous relationships - but it’s gone from ‘maybe I can wait it out until there’s a term for it I like better’ to ‘It’s pretty important to show we believe each other that these are real identities and that includes using words for them if we relate to the identities.’
My principal argument against treating polyamory as an orientation has essentially been that bigots would use it to undermine “real” sexual orientation and gender identities that are in the minority. We’ve basically hit the point, at least in the USA where I am and most of my readers are (unless my metrics are liars or you’re all using VPNs through the USA), where we’re so far past that point that any concern I have would be me pearl clutching about entirely the wrong thing. It’s not just recent news, but man, does recent news really typify the mood that’s pushed my attitude over the edge all year but especially this summer and fall: SCOTUS judges are talking about overturning Obergefell. The current confirmation hearings have used the phrase “sexual preference” passive aggressively enough that I think one of my lesbian relatives listening to them may have spontaneously combusted with rage. (It’s ok, she rose like a phoenix with her law degree in hand to BURN DOWN the doors that Amy Coney Barrett is trying to slam shut behind her.) So, having tossed that argument aside as weaksauce, what am I left with? That I hate the sound of the word that means my identity? Ooooo, too bad for me. Poor baby. I’m going to have to woman up a bit, hope someone else comes up with a prettier word and try to drive migration when they do, and acknowledge that bigots are going to bigot regardless of the very existence of polyamorous people, because most of them don’t know we exist, and it’s way more important we protect those of us and our loved ones they’re ready to treat like shit for being the LGBTQ people they recognize already.
So, since I’m the only member of my polycule who isn’t bi- or pansexual, since I have friends and many of you my readers are LGBTQ, I want not only to respect all of your orientations and make sure we do all we can to push back against all these assaults. Part of that, on a personal level, for me, was dismantling my “if polyamory is an orientation I’m making it all about me and Hurting Other Causes so I can’t admit it’s ever an orientation” leftier-than-thou attitude. It was taking away from me helping instead of making a space to help. I still don’t think polyamory is inherently queer (although I’m happy to have that talk - have it with me in the comments or email me!) and while I think including it with your other orientations on coming out day is fine, coming out only as polyamorous still feels appropriative to me. But I’m not the polyamory police, so don’t take my word as gospel, and like I said, I’m happy to talk one on one more about how my thoughts have shifted.
The tl; dr of that meandering thought process: Polyamory is an orientation spectrum; I’m ambiamorous - I hate that word though, and if you come up with one I don’t hate I’ll knit you a prize.