Learning to Practice Pride Every Day

The hardest part of coming out, for me, was realizing that it’s not quite the grand leap out of the closet that you expect. Even with social media, the message doesn’t reach everyone. Even if it did, there’s meeting new friends or colleagues and the assumptions they make (about me at least) are that I’m straight and monogamous.

The fact that I wear wedding rings and have a husband definitely gives people reason to make that assumption. None the less, it can be a bit jolting when casual conversation turns to family life and it turns out, mine isn’t quite what they expected.

In the few weeks or months after officially coming out on social media I wasn’t quite prepared for the situations where I would fine myself inadvertently in the middle of another “coming out” conversation. Especially since the people I had to “come out” to in these odd after-thought conversations were usually co-workers at my old retail job or someone else on the outer rings of my social existence. I don’t usually talk about my personal life at work – I make it a general practice not to – but from time to time it would slip. Now it isn’t strictly the conversations with coworkers specifically that were awkward, it’s the fact that in the grand scheme of my life and coming out these people weren’t important to me.  Once it was a nail lady who asked about my weekend plans and was super confused when I told her I had plans with my boyfriend while she was holding my ring finger and admiring the bling.

When we decided to come out we all created lists of who needed to know. Our parents and family of course.  Then there were the close friends who we wanted to tell personally, rather than letting them find out on social media. After we had these conversations to the best of our ability we figured out how to post and went ahead with the big leap of coming out publicly.  Truthfully we could of gone on forever with the private conversations and there were probably a few people we missed or didn’t contact in time but we were so excited to make our announcement. I took a lot of back and forth for us all to decide exactly how we wanted the announcement to go – we had to figure out what coming out meant to  us and what that looked like. When we finally felt ready, we weren’t patient.

After making it public on social media there were a few follow up conversations and messages from friends and family members we didn’t speak to previously.  Beyond that, it was relatively smooth. At least, none of the turbulence we experienced was completely unexpected, even if some of it was a little more intense than we anticipated.

Then sometimes the moment comes up where you’re about to say something and you hesitate because you don’t want to come out and explain everything. For example, when someone asks my weekend plans and I want to say “I’ll be at a derby with my boyfriend.” but I don’t want to get in to the whole thing.

True story: When I had that retail job I once bunch of underwear at the end of my shift. The coworker ringing me out said something about how happy my boyfriend would be when I got home and another coworker yelled over “Husband – she’s married!”. I laughed all the way home.

Seriously though, moments where being honest about something unrelated could lead to coming out are silently awkward.  There’s a lot of guilt about avoiding a conversation or avoiding having to acknowledge your relationships fully. It felt unfair to Tom or Maggie that I would acknowledge my relationship with Ben but potentially not talk about them the same way because it was easier.

I’ve gotten over that now, clearly.

For this month I promised to reflect on Pride month and come up with some musings.  As I was thinking about how to do this I’ve been thinking about how excited I am that this is my first Pride month being completely out. In that string of thoughts it occurred to me that coming out was a plural experience. And a plural experience that I was not always prepared for, at that.

Having that unexpected series of conversations and experiences has helped me come to practice pride every day. It’s made me realize that when we decided we wanted to come out on social media we really wanted more. We wanted the openness and honesty that had always been part of how we lived our lives and related to others to continue being part of our lives. With this we committed to pride as a daily action.

Almost a year in to it though, it does get easier. When I decided to blog about this life I think I had to commit to practicing pride every day. I love my life so much, how can I avoid celebrating that?

Carmen

Happy Pride Month!

close up photo of a hedgehog beside rainbow curved frame

Photo by Amber Faust on Pexels.com

Before we even start – yes I did pick this feature image because look at that little hedgey…he’s so cute I couldn’t resist him and his rainbow ❤

I love pride month – I love watching my social media feeds fill up with rainbows, conversations about acceptance and love stories.  It’s a generally happy time with lots of celebration and people embracing who they are without apology.

Don’t mistake that opener for ignorance – there’s lots of serious conversations and realities to be recognized when it comes to Pride. One of the best things about Pride Month, in my humble opinion, is that its an excuse for us all to make room for both the celebration and the reflection required.

I knew that I wanted to find a way to bring that to my own little corner of the internet.  over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what that might look like.  Since Pride Month is happening throughout June, I’ll be doing a bit of a pride series – my first series!

I don’t want to admit how many times I get an idea that I realize is worth more than one blog post, mentally plan out an awesome series of posts, and then never write them…

Not this time!

I always say that I’m in three unique relationships but I usually only say it in passing reference to something else. This month I want to spend a little time sharing and celebrating what makes each of my relationships unique.

I also want to talk about some of my thoughts and things learned over the past 9 months or so since deciding to trust my heart and fall in love all over again.

Really this is just a little intro to the idea of a pride series and a teaser of what’s to come.

What are your burning questions about one or all of my relationships and the general experience of being out in my poly relationship? =) Now’s the time to ask!

Happy June 1st everyone =)

Coming Out: Our Experience

Thankfully I haven’t had to “come out” about a heck of a lot in my life.  I’ve been pretty lucky that way.  All of us had, in fact, been pretty lucky that way.  So when we talked about sharing our lives with the world as polyamorous it was easy to decide that yes, we would come out.

We had some lose requirements.  We kept our changing relationships private until we felt confident in them and knew that come what may, we consider this a serious relationship and we all have every intention of continuing it.  We waited to have conversations with anyone outside of ourselves until we were all on the same page and realistically, having trouble keeping it secret any longer.

See when you take 4 people who have never really had to hide something that makes them happy and ask them to do so, it turns out they aren’t that good at it. Well, we weren’t at least.

People were used to seeing the 4 of us together – we’ve been close friends for a long time so us being seen together wasn’t a surprise.  However I had always been “Maggie’s friend” and Ben had always come along as my husband so when I started showing up places with just Tom, and Ben kept arriving with just Maggie… people started to pick up on the shift and wonder what we were doing.

Some who noticed Ben and Maggie without seeing anything different about Tom and I, or vice versa, thought that two of us were having an affair.  I forgot to turn off my location services so my mom wondered if we were swinging after watching my location dot drift over to Blackstock for a night.

Only one person said anything and when we confirmed his suspicions he stopped talking to us.  I guess that’s when we came out in person, and shortly thereafter we shared a photo of the 4 of us on Facebook with a note explaining that we identified as polyamorous and we were all happily a part of this.

My mom and I had a conversation about how this isn’t a new idea by any stretch of the imagination.  People have called it polyamory, or an open relationship, or whatever term worked for them but they’ve done it for a long time.  What’s changed, and made polyamory and non-monogamy visible is that this generation doesn’t do secrets.

Going back to our parents, our grandparents and their parents, there were strict codes about information that could or should be shared and information that stayed within the walls of the house.  People kept insane family members in the attic and didn’t talk about them, marriages suffered and nobody saw, if you were breaking the bounds of social normalcy and appearances that was your business and you lived your life, but you did it discreetly.

In the age of social media, we value openness and a sense that we don’t have secrets.  Of course, we still do but we’ve given each other permission to share and be honest about things that were previously hushed up.  We can say that we have a family member struggling with mental illness and we’re doing our best to help them – they aren’t locked in the attic and we aren’t seen as less trustworthy because of this illness in our family.  If our marriage isn’t working we can seek help – from friends, from professionals – and we can leave if we need to.  A split home isn’t the greatest possible shame in modern day society.  In fact, we tend to value and praise the decision to split a home over the decision to live unhappily.

While everyone still has the right to keep some things private there’s greater choice about what you can share.  As a society, we’re not all on the same page about what is a secret territory and what is palatable to the public. It’s now a personal decision instead of a communal one.

In our personal case keeping our polyamorous lives a secret would create severe imbalances in the relationships.  I’d be able to share all my happy and funny moments with Ben – obviously everyone already knew I was married to him, so on the surface, nothing would change.  The same would go for Maggie and Tom – they could have continued to share their married lives.  However Tom and I, Maggie and I, and Ben and Maggie would never have those same freedoms.

Before we came out Tom and I went to Canada’s Wonderland together.  We had an awesome day and took adorable selfies that we couldn’t share.  Maggie checked in at a beer festival on Facebook and felt sad and strange leaving the check in just saying she was there – not revealing who she was with.  Particularly odd for any of her friends and family who know that Tom doesn’t drink.

We absolutely value the time that we spent building our relationship in private.  It gave us a chance to orient ourselves and ensure that the bond between the 4 of us was strong and stable before it was exposed to the opinions of others.  It gave us a chance to reflect in peace.  However moving foreword with the lifestyle we needed the ability to be open and comfortable sharing what our lives are really like.

So that’s a bit more about us and our decision to be open with our relationship. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! =)