Saturday, 19 October 2013

SPAnswers- queer identity , coming out as poly & swinging as a bi man

Q. Im a queer/trans* man in a long term relationship, my partner used to define as bi but now defines as straight, she's a woman so its doesn't effect our attraction but I feel like she expects me to do the same. How can I explain that I'm not willing to compromise my queer identity but not cheat?

A. I'd remind her that queer can mean many different things - anything other than straight.  It doesn't have to imply that you're gay and aren't attracted to women, nor does it imply that you need to have other partners.  And I'd reassure her that your attachment to your queer identity doesn't mean you're interested in having other partners by reminding her that an identity is just that, an identity, and is often essential to the way a person views themself, so it can be important for reasons far more personal than a desire to make connections with others.

Q. I'm poly, and have several partners all of whom are very I'mportant to me. My family are only aware of my relationship with one of them - as far as they're concerned, I'm monogamous. They met another of my partners last month, but they only know hir as my friend, not as my partner.
Now I'm moving in with hir, again my family think this is just as friends (which is possible because we're all having separate rooms), but given that this means ze'll inevitably be spending more time round my family I'd really like to be open with them about the nature of our relationship.
The thing is, the reason I didn'ter introduce hir initially as my partn is that when I brought up the *concept* of polyamory a few months ago with some of them, I reckon they managed to fill the whole bingo card of mononormative tropes.
Mainly "you can't reeeeeeeally love someone and be comfortable with sharing them with someone else". Any advice on how to deal with the situation would be greatly appreciated.

A. Firstly you're very brave and definitely not alone in your experience of this situation. A lot of poly people have to negotiate the balance of telling/not telling bio family, work mates, employers, friends, therapists, doctors etc. 
The reactions from your family sound like anyone's reaction on first hearing about polyamory. That's doesn't excuse mononormativity in individuals, at all! Each person is responsible for holding non-discriminatory opinions, but the way society is structured towards the heterosexual, and the monogamous, means that these people are just voicing the values they have been socialised into.

My advice is that you think carefully about who you tell and how you tell them. Remember that no one has the right to know the intimate details of your life, be it family or friends. When you have thoroughly considered the situation personally, then speak to your partner(s) that this will effect. If you just plan on telling them about the partner you're moving in with discuss this with hir and ensure that you're both happy for this information to be available to your family.

If you've communicated with yourself and your partner(s) and you decide you're going to tell your family then I've put some tips below.

1. Consider the location. I personally tend to use a public space (e.g. coffee shop) as I feel that this allows me (and the person I'm telling) the freedom to walk away if and when I/we need to. If you want to do it in the comfort of your own surroundings that's understandable but do consider the location.

2. People. Do you want your partner(s) with you? Do you want to tell family one person at a time? (I advise this as it will limit the mononormative concersation).

3. Attitude. My personal approach is; 'Hey, this is something about me. You can find information on it here. I'm telling you because I feel like you are involved in my life and I'd like to be open with you. I'm not seeking your approval but I'd prefer you kept disapproval to a minimum around me. This is a non-negotiable part of my life, and I expect you to respect both this aspect of me and my life generally. Do you have any questions?'
I feel that this format sets out my expectations and provides them with space to go away and feel their feelings but depending on how close you are to family it may be abrupt or cold. Decide how you want to explain polyamory and if necessary practise in front of a mirror or with a partner.

Above remember that this is your life and you are the one who lives it. Your decisions are valid and nobody can negate how you experience attraction and in what capacity you love or define boundaries of relationships, they can deal with it or not. Your relationship structure has been negotiated and established and you're simply informing your family. Brace yourself for mononoramtive sentiments and ridiculous questions but remember that you don't owe anyone answers. Then allow family their own time to process this information.

I personally keep relationships and family completely separate so instead of telling you my coming out story, have these-

Good luck!x

Q. I'm interested in swinging but as a single, bi man I'm scared of being rejected by the swinging community, is there any point in me bothering?

A. So the answer to this question depends on what you mean by the swinging community. If you mean going to swingers clubs then by all means there is point in you bothering. Single men go to swingers clubs all the time. Occasionally some clubs will hold couples only nights, so if there are couples who are put off by single men being there then they will attend these nights instead. Usually there are plenty of single men at clubs and you won’t be made to feel like the odd one out, so don’t worry. As for your bisexuality, unfortunately I have to admit that the swinging community isn’t always the most accepting of the LGBT community, especially if you wish to sleep with couples (some men worry that you’ll try something with them when they only want you to have fun with their partner). Obviously plenty of people will be accepting but there is still stigma attached to bisexual men within the community.
Secondly there’s the online swingers community. Now it can be worth a try, but there are so many single men on the typical swingers sites that it can be very hard to get a meet, especially without a few verifications. Most couples turn off notifications from single men simply because they can’t handle the volume within which they get messages and requests from them. I would try using a free site in case it doesn't work out, such as fabswingers On these sites though, it might be easier too be open about your sexuality as people who are put off by your sexuality most likely just won’t respond too your messages, and there’s also sites aimed specifically at men who want to play with men.

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