Polyamory & Discrimination
By Christine Thomas
Though I’ve been a self-identifying slut for my entire adult life, I’m pretty darn new to the practice of polyamory. For some reason, I’d always been wary of the concept, thinking that there must be something fundamentally wrong with the sort of person who’d stay with a partner who wants to be with someone else. I saw what I now know is compersion as a weakness of character and a lack of self-respect. My first taste of this was as a child of the ‘90s, watching the Monica Lewinsky scandal on the news and judging the first lady as hard as I could. How could Hilary stay with a man who would be so shamelessly unfaithful? It was disappointing for me to think, at the sagely age of ten, that a woman would put up with such betrayal for the sake of… what? Love? Politics?
Looking back on the shenanigans of the Clinton White House now that I’m in my mid-twenties, I have a completely altered perspective on the whole situation. I don’t know what Hilary’s reasons were for staying by her husband’s side throughout the whole mess, and it’s absolutely none of my business. Her choices are her choices, and what right do I have to judge her when I know nothing of what her relationship entails? Maybe the Clintons have some sort of open marriage, or maybe Bill was just a cheating scoundrel. What difference do the details of their arrangement really make to the rest of us?
This sentiment is so familiar to me and it drives me batty that it bears repeating so frequently. Live and let live. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Judge not lest ye be judged. Mind your own damn business. These are a few of the many lessons that humanity hasn’t quite mastered yet.
I share a queen-sized bed with both my husband and my boyfriend. As a poly triad, we know that we are going to be facing many obstacles in what we hope are the many decades that lie ahead. So far, the worst we’ve encountered have been surprised friends, concerned parents, and silently judgmental but completely polite neighbors and acquaintances. We’ve been really lucky up to this point, but the three of us understand that things won’t always be so easy for our atypical little family. There are still grandparents who don’t know about us. We’d all like to be parents within the next few years—how much will our children be outcast for their parents’ choices? How are we going to get the boyfriend on the insurance? How many times will we be shunned as adulterers? We’ve been so very lucky to explore this new dynamic with an abundance of support from our friends and family, but not everyone is going to be so open-minded. Polyamory is still lumped in with bestiality and attraction to kitchen appliances these days, so we’re prepared for quite a bit of backlash in our future.
Compersion, by the way, is the state of contentment one feels in knowing that his or her partner(s) is/are cared for by another person/other people. My husband, boyfriend, and I find compersion, comfort, and stability in the balance of a three-person relationship and the support we provide each other. It’s a wonderful thing, what we’ve got together, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the rest of the world will just be happy for us—let’s see just how long that optimism can last.