Women come out many times and find it harder to come out

  • I became a lesbian in my 20s and then a survivor of domestic abuse in my 40s.
  • I find it harder to come out as a poly than any other way I’ve ever come out.
  • I’m proud of my relationship, but I feel like a lot of people don’t understand poly relationships.

Coming out is something I’ve done many times.

I was happy to be a lesbian in my 20s, but was a little confused as a non-lesbian when I started working with trans men nearly 20 years later. I came out at the age of 40 – painfully but determined to shed light on an important topic – as a female survivor of domestic abuse. As someone who is highly sensitive and dyslexic, I hope to help normalize neurodiversity over the past year.

But it’s even harder to tell the world that my partner and I are multimers.

My closest friends know, but my family, outer circle and social media followers don’t.

I am very proud and I believe in my relationship model, but revealing this information to the world is still a challenge. As someone who finds it easy to go out in a variety of ways, what makes multiple identities what I do when I share it? I tell myself it’s because I don’t have a significant secondary partner yet, and my partner prefers privacy – and while both of those things are true, that’s not all.

There are several bigger reasons.

The Poly relational model is not well understood

The concept of a morally non-monogamous or ENM relationship has primarily become popular when cisgender heterosexual couples want to bring an extra woman (also known as a “unicorn”) into the bedroom.

It’s the last thing I want to associate with — from ENM issues and colonial labels to connections with heterosexual couples — but it’s an umbrella term for my relationship style.

Poly can be done in a number of ways. For me it meant meaningful emotional and physical contact with others, and for my partner it meant something different. Some people are part of a long, or group that is connected by relationships, while others, like myself, are exclusive and every relationship I’m in exists only with that person.

Coming out equals emotional labor

As the primary partner of a trans person, I have been struck by the boldness of strangers countless times. I was asked about my partner’s body parts, surgeries, etc.

The thought of adding my relational model to this mix was an exhausting one. While I love being in the public eye as a writer and chef, I don’t want to explain all that Google has to offer to anyone who asks how my love life works, and that’s what it feels like in the form of poly it needs.

From quarantine to the horrific political events of the past two years, my emotional energy for strangers and online acquaintances is limited these days.

i am afraid of judgment

For me, polygamy is about having an abundance of love in my heart. I love attention and I need a lot of it.

Getting it from more than one person keeps me from getting too dependent on my main partner and worrying about the relationship being overly strained. I believe that attraction to others is normal and natural, and acting with one does not detract from the bond with the other as long as all parties know and agree.

However, the judgments I’ve heard from the world don’t match this thinking, and I’m concerned that I’ll be seen as someone who isn’t happy with her relationship, has bad boundaries, or needs “too much”.

None of these things are true, but I still fear the judgment of others. While I’ve learned how to let go of what strangers think of me, I’m still terrified of the thought of my parents disapproving.

A good friend of mine goes out and takes pride in her congregation and relationships and posts about them regularly on social media. I see the disgust and anger on her face from her family who are urging her to keep the messages behind the door, and I admire her even more with every post of her defiance.

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