Queer and Poly Definitions
I feel danger when I tell someone that I am both queer and polyamorous. Being queer and poly, I have had men try to use my sexual identity for their own perverted agendas, and have had to endure nasty assumptions about my lifestyle being projected onto me. When men find out I am queer, they look me up and down and I see all their disgusting fantasies flash before their eyes and say “oh so you like girls, huh?”. I respond with “no I love womxn”. There are different reactions to when people discover my polyamorous identity, coupled with my queer identity.
First, it is important to note the definition of “pansexual“.
Shiri Eisner in “What is Bisexuality” denotes pansexual to be “people who are attracted (sexually, romantically, and/or otherwise) to people of all genders and sexes, or to multiple genders and sexes, or to multiple genders and sexes, or regardless of sex and gender, and who identify as pan/omni” (122). This definition counters the misunderstanding of predominantly cis men’s narrow perception of queerness. I prefer to use the term “queer” when describing my sexuality, defined by Eisner as “a nonspecific identity that describes anyone diverging from heterosexuality, monogamy and vanilla sexuality”. Both definitions are applicable and acceptable when describing my identity, but I personally prefer “queer” in part due to Adam Isaiah Green’s “Remembering Foucault: Queer Theory and Disciplinary Power” being defined as a “subject position outside of normalization and the traditional configurations of gender and sexuality” (325).
The Poly Closet
There is a polyamorous closet, which differs from the LGBTQIA+ closet in a few different ways. The decision to be out or not about the polyamorous lifestyle is a tricky one, all depending on context. The blog The cost of being in the Poly closet states that being polyamorous is not a protected identity for workplace discrimination, and can lead to social stigma in someone’s career. It is also important to note that the consequences of being in or out of the poly closet is felt differently and perhaps unevenly by the dynamic.
The intersectionality of being a queer, polyamorous womxn of color leaves me very vulnerable to persecution and perversions of predominantly cis men. When men find out I am polyamorous, they assume I want them in my life, and that my space and time is limitless for their pillage and conquest through my body. The blog Requiem describes a womxn’s polyamorous journey with men, and it is not all positive. The author describes her experience of having men use her polyamory for their sexual gratification, and do not have the capacity or wherewithal to have a meaningful relationship (which is what polyamory is about). I have noticed in my anecdotal experience that men have to unpack more of their territorial toxic masculinity, before engaging in healthy polyamory.
There are many sites where you can meet people from the poly community, which can be exciting but also cautionary. There are couples who prey on unicorns (womxn who want to have a threesome with a couple), and who prey on other couples. This blog post shows how lack of communication and confusion of boundaries mixed with substances can devastate a relationship.
The polyamorous community is notoriously white, and people of color (especially black people) are preyed upon by couples seeking to satisfy a racist fantasy. Though this may not be this extreme in every circumstance, POC are consistently feeling excluded from the poly community. There are safe/brave spaces for poly POC to meet up, like Black & Poly .