Wednesday, June 23, 2010

i do not own a pink uhaul truck.


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via Freedom Fighter » i do not own a pink uhaul truck. by aliciasanchezgill on 6/23/10

i am a queer woman of color. in a world that tells me that i am not normal. i am a non-monogamous woman in a world that says "impossible." for many reasons, my relationships often fall outside of societal norms of acceptability, "normality" or hegemony. i like it that way. this is not a political rant, about being anti-capitalist, although i believe that concepts of ownership and consumption are deeply rooted in capitalism and often mirror our views on romantic relationships, (the political is personal) but no. this is about love. that's it. a whole bunch of love. and maybe a little bit about my resentment towards that uhaul lesbian in the picture with the mullet. but mostly love.

i don't call myself polyamorous often. although, i guess by definition, i may be. i'm not on my "poly is so enlightened" high horse. i know it doesn't work for everyone. for many reasons. it's hard to undo all of the things we have been socialized to believe about what healthy relationships look like- especially when we haven't had models for them. no one ever said "loving two people at the same time in a consensual, honest way is possible." but then again, no one ever said "lil' black girl, you loving women is possible" either. society doesn't usually reinforce queer, non-patriarchal, non-heterocentric relationships. my family assumed from birth, that because i was born with female anatomy, i'd identify as a woman, be attracted to men, one day marry one man, and have a baby or two. there was never any indication that there were other options. the first time i'd even heard of polyamory was maybe on maury povich or something. but the second time. oh, the second time, i knew. i was reading "defining our own sexual liberation" by ignacio [so fine in the face] rivera and yk hong and i remember thinking "it sounds like they are talking to me. about me."

i believe that awesome, queer, non gender conforming, non monogamous relationships can be healthy, and loving, and sustainable. or at least as sustainable as any monogamous relationship i've attempted. not all queer folks are running to our local city halls for marriage licenses. and not all lesbians own keys to an obligatory pink uhaul truck. for me, non monogamy asserts non-possession. and autonomy that i have not been able to experience in monogamous relationships. non-monogamy also overturns this idea that there is a scarcity of love. i resist the idea that, by loving more than one person in a romantic way, each love is diminished, when in fact, i believe that, the more i practice the act of loving [love is an action, never simply a feeling-b.hooks], the more love i am filled with- that's more to share, and more that i can hold. like i said, it doesn't work for everyone. i remember dating someone years ago,  who, in a moment of fierce recognition, very early on, said to me "we're not just on different pages, we're in different books. you're in "The Ethical Slut" and I'm in "Monogamy: Mating Strategies and Partnerships in Birds, Humans and Other Mammals." this is important information to know at the beginning, right? monogamy wasn't for me. she knew it. so did i.

for me, non-monogamy is not about having it all [unless by "all" you mean, having all the love and joy your heart can hold] or being malicious. in fact, being poly takes immense honesty- with yourself, and the people you are engaging with. polyamory is not greed. it is not necessarily being "single" and dating around, it is not serial monogamy that changes monthly. and it is certainly not cheating. it's honest. and communicative. maybe more soul searching than i ever had to do in monogamous relationships. for example, i have had to explore issues of jealousy, my own insecurities, fear of abandonment. these are not just emotions that poly folks experience. often, folks who are monogamous experience the same things- i think it's how we choose to deal with them that are different. when monogamous couples experience jealousy, they often try to stop the jealousy by stopping the behavior that caused the jealousy- placing what usually becomes unrealistic expectations on their partners [don't look at other women, it makes me jealous]. when, in fact, what's often behind that jealousy is [i'm so insecure that, i'm worried that you will think she is prettier than me- and maybe you will leave]. that kind of insecurity can be shameful, but being poly helps me own my stuff, and interrogate it openly, and honestly. we all know, that when people are ready to leave, they'll leave anyway. the limitations of monogamy only heighten the pressure. being poly with reminds me that there are so many fabulous reasons that a person is choosing to be with me, instead of dwelling on insecurities or a need to identify as a couple. being poly is a reminder that we can choose partners. we want them. we don't need them.

we choose partners, and we choose how we engage with them. i have found the ability to be incredibly emotionally intimate with numerous friends and partners. after all, i have different friends for different needs. i don't expect one romantic partner to complete me, or to fulfill all of my emotional needs. but being poly is not an escape from emotional intimacy. i have loved very much in open relationships. loved with my whole self, and been absolutely heartbroken. being non-monogamous is not the easy way out of love and heartbreak. it is not emotional distance. but i know that love is not something i can hold. or guarantee. there is not enough paper in the world the guarantee that a person i am with, whom i love, will be with me tomorrow. and still want me in the same way. both of my parents have been married three times. trust me, the best we can do is love right now.

i recognize that every relationship is different; some are purely emotional, some are purely sexual, and some are both. that includes poly ones. what's important is that it works for you. you get what you want, what you need, feel safe, and empowered. i am a survivor- so i am always thinking about consent, trust and safety. and of course safe sex. to ignore those very real needs, logistics and experiences would be ridiculous. being in a relationship means setting some boundaries, but it doesn't have to mean controlling a person's heart. there are so many models of polyamory, so many ways of being. each person has to find what works for them and their partner[s].

"love possesses not nor will it be possessed, for love is sufficient unto love." -gibran

that reminds me to love more. right now. without expectations except that i will always follow my heart and my happiness. and be more present, and not place unrealistic expectations on myself or partners. we are all growing and changing. who are we if we aren't growing? i can't expect the water to look or be the same in the next moment, it is always changing and i can't expect love to be the same. the only way i know how to love is openly, right now, and very hard. and in order to open my heart and hands to love, i have to drop the uhaul keys.


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