"If you don't think you can help the situation, don't try to render help."
Just in case it has been a topic people hadn't figured out by this point. I am polyamourous. I am. I have come to terms with it. I am okay with it. I think it is the correct lifestyle, for me. I don't think it's the right lifestyle for everyone. I don't think it makes me a better individual than people who aren't poly. And all those beliefs anyone else has about what they think it means about my ability to love, be honest, have fidelity, have safe relationships... all those issues are just that. These are someone else's issues.
That being said...(err, written, err typed) it took me a long time to accept this. It wasn't easy. Initially it was because I was in monogamous relationships. Well, I did have one poly relationship near the start where my partner demanded I accept her polyamoury but blamed me for hurting the relationship when I tried practicing it. Later when I tried being openly poly I made the mistake of dating people who entered the relationship saying, "Oh. Um. Yeah. Sure. Of course I'm okay with it." and then spent the time later in the relationship complaining that I was always thinking about the other partner and that they don't understand why they aren't enough for me.
I got barrages of, "You're just waiting for the next person." and "Well, if you want to love someone else, then you obviously don't have the ability to love me."
So many people telling me what I felt.
There has only been one person who ever argued with what I was feeling and been right about it. This person accused me of being poly at the point when I was denying it the most. I flew off the handle. I was trying to push myself to be something I wasn't and the world just wasn't having it. She could see the real me better than just about anyone I have ever known. (And I've never told her that). She can always see the real me almost as well as my own wife. In my strange little poly heart there will always be a great deal of love for her.
But, the pushback from the people I cared about in the mono-amourous community was just some of the difficulty. Joining (or at least hanging out with) the local poly community has had its own set of difficulties.
Someone pointed out to me once:
When a person finds himself looking for a counter culture sub-group, suddenly they aren't quite as different as they used to be. Some people revel in being different and discover they must strike out to be more different, to stay maintain a comfortable feeling.
An example: SCA allergies
I actually heard the following at an SCA event: "Well, if this bowl was even in a kitchen where the chef had handled fish… even if he washed his hands... I'LL DIE! (said with that exact inflection). She then went on to ask the server after every piece of food, "Does this have fish in it? Was it near fish? Was it in the same room with fish?" I got up and moved when she asked about the tea.
Now... some may hazard that I was intolerant and did not take the time to understand her. But, I'd like to point out one major thing here. Regardless of how I felt about her issues, I didn't push my disbelief in her face. I didn't laugh at her questions. I simply didn't perceive that I had the ability to discuss her issues (or for that matter to be around her issues) in a way that would pay her the respect that she felt she deserved.
My local poly community has a load of bisexual women in it. As a straight male I have to be honest and say this is a good thing. (You can take that anyway you like :) Many of the men there seemed to me to be bi. It took me quite a while to feel like I was part of the community rather than a guest.
People were kinda nervous about me. This was partially because I was the new guy, but also because I was the new guy. One woman in the community said to me, "Oh, it may take you a while before people warm up to you. It's a guy thing. So many guys aren't really poly, they just show up looking for an easy threesome." Now, I can understand that idea. History has proven that time and time again (as my wife aptly states:) abusive members of a dominant group can ruin the image of all members of the group. So now I have to deal with a stereotype on top of being new in a community.
After a few months of rare appearances in the community I asked someone why I just wasn't naturally feeling like I was making any progress in polyamoury. She said, "You're a guy. You don't get relationships. Getting close to someone isn't just about wanting to have sex with them. In our community it takes time to get to know someone. We're not swingers. You can't just go after the first person you see, and expect they will be interested in you."
This made sense. Right then someone else showed up. The person I was talking to sprung off the couch literally pushing off my shoulder partially as a handhold and partially to push me out of the way. She hugged the new person and said very loudly, "Did you see the new cute boy at the club? We have to go so I can pick him up. I so have to have him." They giggled.
Something in me wanted to walk over and snap her neck.
I understand that this is only one person. I am aware there are different relationship styles. Personally, I'm not opposed to either of these. But their sharp juxtaposition in this case highlighted a hypocrisy that seems all too common in the community.
Recently, I found out that I'd made a false assumption about one of the men in our community. Since it was the norm in our community (in my eyes) I'd believed he was bi; in fact he is also straight. Since then, we've had tons (more) to talk about; we've shared stories, issues, and experiences. Some of the difficulties we've gone through. Some of the wonderful things we've discovered. But in general, this has given me someone to bond with in the community.
So I made a group on LJ called: poly_str8_male and promoted it as:
A place for a minority in the minority to chat about our issues.
This has turned into a bit of a flamish debate as I have been getting comments like:
How dare you as a straight man call yourself a minority?
How dare you feel you've been oppressed or discriminated against?
Folks, I'd like to point out that no matter what uber-gender, race, creed (what exactly is creed?), religion, orientation you may belong to, every one of you is an individual. (Monty Python: "I'm not!") In the grand scheme of things, every one of you is in a minority at one point. I guarantee you, the number of white, male, jewish-raised, thelemic, priests, with ordination, that are straight, albeit poly, who had a parent that was a psychiatrist, who has been married for less than 4 months, comprises a very small circle in the grand scheme of sentient earthlings. Does this mean I feel that I've been discriminated against? Maybe, sometimes, possibly, once, shrug, dunno. Does it mean that I want to meet other "WMJrTpwOSPPsychpMlt4m"s?
Even if this is someone I discover I don't like, at least I can share something with them that other people just can't connect to.
Now this debate has raged on with accusations that I am leaving the larger community. My feelings about the situation have been called inane , and humourous.
For me... the rant is not so much about anything specific in the ensuing debate. For me it's the fact that there even was a debate.
I want to invite people to a place where they can talk about issues that are not really relevant to the larger group. Why does the larger group feel the need to comment that they feel it's unnecessary? I mean... WTF!?!?!
I honestly don't care if straight men are or are not a minority or a majority of the polyamourous community. Let me repeat this... I don't give a flying f&$* as to what the numbers are.
To sum up, the whole rant comes down to this:
If I'm in a group of 10 people where 8 are explaining to me all the bad stereotypes that come along with being a straight male, and I'm one of 2 guys in the group... I want a place that I can vent to the other guy about that saying, "Well that kind of sucked. Did you feel uncomfortable, too?"
Scolding me and telling me I have no right to believe that I'm uncomfortable when you weren't one of the people being talked about really doesn't help your case. In fact all it really does is further prove the situation.
Now, my other problem is that I love good debate. I like analyzing what was said and trying to pick apart flawed logic. This gets me into far too much trouble. But this is a topic for another post...