Sunday, November 2, 2008

The new gay, part deux!

Polyfulcrum engages in the discussion:

I've been out for a couple days, due to loss of connectivity surrounding one of our poly puppies chewing my power cord. Returning, I see this great discussion going on in the comment section between Anita Wagner and S1M0N. Now, there are a great many things that S and I agree on, but on the issue of being able to work towards recognition of poly as a valid lifestyle choice, I agree with Ms. Wagner.

There have been too many stories about poly folk loosing custody of children, having trouble with employers, not being able to find lodging easily, to be apathetic or happy in my closet. Having minor children in the house, and being self-employed with most of my major referral sources being LDS (Mormon), I have stayed in the closet in a work capacity generally, although my clients, and my daughter's teacher, know that I live with these two men and help raise a child that isn't my own by any standard definition. People that are in our life on a voluntary basis, daycare, friends and some family, we're all out to across the board. That hasn't been easy. We've lost friends over it, endured family rejections, but generally, people around here are a bit more live and let live. I'm much happier not having to censor myself when I am around my friends and family, even with the tough bits.

PG and I have already talked about taking a more visible role in the local poly community, with the main detracting concerns being the minor children in the household ,and loss of business opportunities, but there will come a point further down the road where that will likely be part of our landscape.

I have a great deal of admiration for what the gay community has accomplished. It is a success that the poly community is likely to be able to model. It's like when you are raising multiple children, the first one has the toughest time, most restrictions, tightest controls. They do the work to break in the parents and the next kid down the line has an easier time of it generally. Much in that same way, the gay community, and other alternative communities, have worn down the public to make it that much easier for us to slide in and present as just another option.

I look forward to the day when I can say I'm polyamorous and not need to make a big explanation, because it's part of the lexicon of society. Closets should be a tool, but they shouldn't be a requirement for all polyamorous persons, S1M0N. Maybe we can get you down to a wardrobe in a few years. ;)


Unknown said...

And I understand what you want and what you're saying, dearest. In a Utopia, people would treat everyone equally and there would be no prejudice. However, this is not a Utopia. People will have their prejudices, their opinions, and their predispositions - especially towards anything they might consider immoral. What I'm saying is that you cannot change their thinking, nor should you expect to, just as much as they cannot change your thinking.

My argument is simply to accept who you are and to control what is possible within one's sphere of influence. Attempting to get people to understand polyamory (let alone accept polyamory and our lifestyle), I believe, it futile, unless they already have an open mind whereas I presume they can do their own critical thinking.

Attempting to pusuade others to be tolerant, to accept, to be open-minded, to erase their prejudice and accept you without precondition is pretty Smurfy, as in, tiny-blue-and-white-hat-Utopia, that has no bearing on our reality. I feel you cannot change nor control the attitudes and opinions around you, and if you tried, you'd be infringing on _their_ rights to reject polyamory which are, in fact, perfectly valid.

I think where I could agree with you is on the idea of an ignorant predisposition without critical thought and without education. Still, this is the United States of America: a vast majority of us make decisions on irrational assumptions and generally avoid critical thought. My message: why try to push a string uphill? Just accept who you are and what you want to be, set your own boundaries, and live your life... as we let the closed minded and their poly-ignorant lead theirs.

That's all I'm sayin... grin


polyfulcrum said...

Oh, but Sweetness, there's a difference between asking for acceptance (I agree, not likely) and educating people to not burn us at the stake if they find out we're poly, or try to take our children away and ruin our businesses (this is a totally unacceptable attempt at control by the ignorant masses).

Fear is largely motivated by ignorance. If you take away the ignorance with accurate information, there is less to fear. Staying fully in the closet implies that we are doing something "wrong", something that would justify that fear and anger.

Sharing information and enhancing understanding will inevitably lead towards less extreme responses. People may very well still think that poly is weird, or even a bad idea, but if they know what it is, the impetus to find out "what they are hiding" is gone, along with a great deal of stress on the poly people trying to hide out of _our_ fear of reprisals.

Anita Wagner Illig said...

I don't see this issue as black and white. I've met lots of good, open-minded people who were leary about polyamory before I fully explained it to them. Once they knew, first of all, that it's about a lot more than sex, their comfort levels were increased to the point that their concerns were pretty much resolved.

It is these people with whom I think it is very important to raise consciousness about polyamory. That's because the next time they encounter someone poly, they will not think they are lacking in good character. This is especially important if the poly person they encounter is a co-worker, family member, teacher at school, etc.

There is lots of misunderstanding about polyamory out there amongst people who are willing and can indeed be pursuaded. It is very clear to me that there are benefits to helping the public understand what we are all about.

We are NOT trying to convince the unconvincable. I agree that it's a waste of time. Instead, it is all of the rest who are reasonably open-minded who we hope to influence. These are the ones who will maybe later meet someone who says bigoted things against a poly neighbor, for example, and then perhaps they will take the time to correct that person's misunderstanding of the subject.

I agree that it's foolhardy to try to convince those with closed minds. Reaching the rest of the population is a much more worthwhile endeavor.