A few people have brought this article to my attention:
In Tuesday’s books podcast, we marked LGBT history month by interviewing Christine Burns, a campaigner for transgender rights, about her history of the UK’s trans community. The next day, my son was in a TV documentary – deep breath – about polyamory.
Sounds edgy. Do go on.
Love Unlimited wasn’t about trans people, but about life choices that challenged traditional thinking about relationships. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word polyamory back to 1992 and says it is not to be confused with casual recreational sex, serial monogamy or swinging.
Similarly, Playboy is not to be confused with pornography. Because of the articles.
My 24-year-old son was one of a dozen or so young people – gay, straight, bisexual, trans and cis – interviewed about love lives that to them seem entirely normal, but which all involve the possibility of committed partnerships with multiple lovers.
So there is no actual committed partnership in these polyamorous arrangements, merely the possibility of one. Meaning, it’s possible in theory or they spend time thinking about it. In which case, my own love life seems entirely normal but involves the possibility of weekly sessions in a hot tub with Maria Sharapova and two of her closest friends. Ahem.
The interviewees included three gay men, two of whom work as nurses, who are filmed whiling away an evening with board games in their Edinburgh flat before retiring to their two bedrooms (there isn’t room for all three to sleep comfortably in one bed, and shift work means often only two of them are in anyway). Their setup is known in polyamorous circles as a triad or “thruple”.
Three gay men shagging each other is news? Did we suddenly slip back in time to 1950?
What, they say, could be more ordinary?
Indeed. The only mystery is why this became a TV show.
My son’s arrangement is a daisy chain, in which each person is free to have other lovers while remaining committed to each other.
An arrangement which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is not to be confused with casual recreational sex.
He currently has only one partner, but “they” – the pronoun of choice – are also in a lesbian relationship, so I resonate strongly with the splendidly upfront mother of one of the gay nurses as she recalled her initial reaction to the introduction of a third partner: “[I thought] that’s my baby’s man … Does this mean they’re not going to get married? Is my baby going to be lying in bed alone at night crying because his partner’s not there and is away shagging some other bloke?”
Paraphrasing from Fawlty Towers, there’s enough material there for an entire conference.
The film says my son and his partner regard themselves as non-binary “in that they identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine”. Wrong, says my son, when I discuss it with him: they see themselves as neither exclusively male nor female, but his partner strongly identifies as femme.
Such delicate distinctions can wrongfoot the best of us. Pronouns, in particular, have been an issue in my household since my son came out as trans. I am clumsy in my attempts to negotiate a way around “he” and “they”. Childhood anecdotes in particular frequently leave me blundering back to “she”.
Life’s tough in modern Britain. Who is writing this gibberish, I hear you ask?
Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture for the Guardian
Meanwhile, via Whiteboard Technician:
Bisexual Polyamorous Goose Love Triangle Ends In Tragedy
Which is only marginally more ludicrous than the first story.
Homosexuality has been widely documented in the animal kingdom: 1,500 known species display this behavior, and more cases are likely to be discovered. Luckily for them, there is no indication that homophobia exists outside of humans.
Nor does consent.
Thomas’s multi-partner inclinations are also no oddity in nature – significant evidence of polyamorous behavior (not to mention polygendered individuals) has been recently observed, prompting biologists like Antonia Forster to keep challenging our understanding of sexuality.
Presumably we should also be sniffing each other’s arses, licking our balls, and flinging shit around too, then?