When I was 17, I sat on a blanket in my backyard, surrounded by my dearest high school friends, and told everyone I was a lesbian. It was my birthday party. The tradition was to stay up as late as we possibly could, outside, until the birds chirped to life and the sun gave us the morning. In the middle of the night, coming out felt so safe and so freeing. I’m not sure anyone was particularly surprised. The cliche exists for a reason: it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted from me, just by saying aloud, “I’m different. And this is how, and this is who I am.”
This was the start of my “coming outs.” I came out to my mother, my grandparents, my host families in Spain and Ecuador, friends and acquaintances. I stopped getting bent out of shape when someone else came out on my behalf. This was who I was.
Until it wasn’t. Until, in my twenties, I started dating men and had to tell all my lesbian friends that haha! just kidding! I’m not straight, but I’m definitely not “100 percent gold star gay” either.
And still I wasn’t done. I’m not sure when I first discovered that open relationships were possible, that there was this thing called polyamory where you could be in love with multiple people and everyone was ok with it, embraced it even. After learning about polyamory, however I did, I thought about it in my subsequent relationships, but never brought it up much. It was something I wanted, but felt strange and guilty for wanting.
When I was 26, I had the opportunity to date someone who was polyamorous and who lived with his girlfriend. She liked me, at least initially. And I got to experience a relationship model that seemed to fit me in a way that monogamy had failed to do. And that was just the beginning.
So now, I’m coming out again, publicly, loudly, as polyamorous. Many of my close friends and family know, and now all of you know, too. I have a network of people who are, in one way or another, my partners, my dearest loves, my chosen family. They are the people I want with me for big life occasions, for small life occasions, for birthdays and snow days and days where there’s nothing going on at all. These are the people I will probably introduce you to, if you and I see each other often, and they are the people who will hold my hand, possibly one right after the other, or at the same time, and it will be normal to us. Normal because we’ve actively, intentionally decided to bypass normal relationship ideals and trajectories and create our own models, which are living, not static, and changing and growing as we change and grow.
I am not writing this to convince anyone that polyamory is “better.” You shouldn’t try this at home if it doesn’t sound good to you. What I’m writing this for is to ask for your acceptance and your respect. I’m writing this so that, in the future forever, I can talk and write openly about my poly family without shame and without holding back the particular love I feel for multiple people. And, ultimately, I’m writing this to open a dialogue about relationships, about the infinite ways we humans can stretch and live and love, and to be a resource for anyone who feels like the conventional model, for whatever reason, just isn’t for them. Talk to me. I am open and I am here.
And, I’ve learned one sure thing in all this uncertainty: I’ll probably never stop coming out. What a gift and a privilege that is.