I recently ended things with a guy I liked because he wanted to stop using condoms, but he balked when I said we should both get tested for sexually transmitted infections. He said he felt I didn’t trust him. I tried to explain that trust has nothing to do with it, and that if he didn’t care whether I felt safe, I shouldn’t trust him. That was the end of it. I’m not seeing this guy anymore. But what do you say to someone who conflates a request for STI testing with a lack of trust?
—Seeking Truthful Insight
My husband and I have been married for 20 years, and we both also share our lives with additional partners. Rather than spend a lot of time dishing about who and how we love—and how fortunate we feel!—I’d like to get right to my plea for support. I want freedom. I want the freedom in my life that I’ve always wanted for you, Dan: to be able to live and love and talk about your actual life without being afraid that it could cost you your job, your kids, your family. Having to live in the closet is difficult. I cannot say that it is as difficult for us as it is for someone who is LGBT. I did not know I was “poly” as a kid. I never felt like I didn’t fit in for that reason growing up—and I agree with you that this is a relationship structure rather than a sexual orientation. But it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a contest about who suffers more or where these things come from. Instead, I think we should ask ourselves if we stand for the same things and if we can become part of a movement toward freedom and equality for everyone, even if some of the ways we live and love are choices and some are not. The progress we have made together toward a more tolerant world for gay people gives me hope that we could be next. I don’t think you are the emperor of acronyms, Dan, but you should be, and that is why I am starting with you. So can we be added to the acronym, please? Perhaps we can honor the differences between our experience and the LGBT experience with an ampersand. What do you think of LGBT&P?
—Privately Polyamorous Person
You haven’t been keeping up, PPP. We are no longer the LGBT community. We are the LGBTQLFTSQIA community, aka the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, leather/fetish, two-spirit, questioning, intersex and asexual community/communities. I don’t see why we can’t slap a “P” onto the end of our acronym, so say it with me now: “I’m proud to be a member of the LGBTQLFTSQIAP community/communities!”
But I have to draw the line at the ampersand. Because if we give poly folks a punctuation mark, PPP, then soon everybody is gonna want a punctuation mark, and our ever-metastasizing acronym is an unwieldy, sprawling enough mess already. So no special punctuation mark rights for you guys, PPP.
And why should poly folks be held at arm’s length with an ampersand? Because most poly folks are straight? Lots of leather/fetish folks are straight, and they’re covered in the acronym. Lots of trans men and trans women are straight, and they’re covered. David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, “is in a romantic relationship with an asexual girlfriend and hopes to adopt a child,” according to his Wiki page, and he’s covered. If the Ts and LFs and As aren’t being held with a pair of punctuational tongs, PPP, why should poly folks be? You’re a sexual minority, too, and poly people sometimes face discrimination, bigotry and oppression. So welcome to the club, PPP. Congrats!
And here’s the best part of putting poly folks in the acronym: It brings us one step closer to seizing control of the entire alphabet. While religious conservatives are fighting a losing battle to “take back the rainbow” from the gays—a movement led by a fundamentalist preacher in Washington State—we’ve been making off with the alphabet one letter at a time. Pretty soon, angry religious conservatives will have to post their hateful screeds in hieroglyphics because using the alphabet will be just as gay as putting a rainbow bumper sticker on your car.
So … gee … maybe I ought to let you have your ampersand. Why not steal punctuation marks from the haters, too?
Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at savagelovecast.com.