Today starts with a bit of gratitude and a bit of love.
My partner came home from a business trip last night. We had a minor shakeup in the midst of a really awesome couple of weeks, which is essentially very normal for partnerships while still being unique enough for my young, inexperienced self to be scared by it.
Growing up, I always saw myself as a single person. While my friends were concocting elaborate wedding fantasies or making their Barbies tissue bridal dresses, I dreamed of riding into the sunset on a My Little Pony or living in Sapphic bliss with She-Ra and her sorority of bad-ass heroines.
When I got old enough to consider partnership outside of marriage, it never occurred to me that there would be a lone guy (i.e. “husband”) involved. I saw this ad when I was a teenager and thought “YES! THAT IS WHAT I WANT!” (The caption reads “My Chosen Family”).
Which is to say, I grew up wanting to be in a triad with two bisexual men. Of course, I saw pretty much zero cultural role models for that kind of relationship. If you don’t count the movie “Threesome,” that is, which I don’t, because it was most decidedly not bisexual in the way that I imagined my life being.
As I aged, it got even worse, because while there was a certain contingent of bi- or pan-sexual identified men at my college, that well dried up fast when I moved to LA. I was told by many role models (most notably Dan Savage, though I believe he’s softened his stance) that bisexuality in men was a lie.
Moreover, I got some pretty awful feedback around polyamory, too, most of which was from bitter assholes.
After a particularly arduous evening with a couple of friends where I recounted a fun night I had with a lover, and for which they essentially slut-shamed me, I literally threw up my hands and screamed to the heavens “I just want to meet a polyamorous, bisexual man who has community and social and sexual acumen! Is that too much to ask?!!”
About nine months later, my partner walked into my life (again, literally- I was at work, he walked in).
I was a card carrying lesbian at the time, but that’s a post for another time.
While we are not in a triad, our strength of our partnership is based on both our openness and our queer identities. I don’t think either could exist without the other. My queer identity is very based on the notion of eschewing traditional expectations of relationship delineation, so monogamy and my sexuality are completely incompatible. And my non-monogamous identity is likewise informed by the range and uniqueness of the lovers in my life.
Looking back, one of the reasons I could never see myself in partnership was because I always saw it as a compromise of identity. To be partnered, I reasoned, I would have to choose one person to love, I would have to reject parts of my personality, I would have to deny my own ambitions. This is what traditional marriage looked like to me: endless stories of women giving up careers to have babies or men giving up personal ambitions to support a family. College degrees squandered, zippy cars traded in for mini-vans. It all looked so dreary to me, and yet I had no alternatives to look to. Guided by my own ideas of personal rightness and tiny clues in ads like the one above, I mined for alternatives to the structure I was sold.
The ironic part is that for an average person on the street, my partner and I look like a normal, hetero, married couple. I’ve learned to let that go. Instead, I have a queer, poly partnership that I didn’t even know was possible growing up.