My brother, his wife and daughter came to visit recently. They don’t know I have more than one lover. They don’t know that one of my lovers is a woman. Is it necessary to come out of the closet to my family? I ask myself this question. I’ve come out to most of my friends, but revealing my sex life to my family is not something I relish. I have discussed various aspects of polyamory with them, more like “some people out there are doing this,” but not implicating myself. My live-in partner and I play the “normal couple” game with them.
Exactly what are the issues that one has to deal with in “coming out.” To start with, fear of judgement. The voices that scream out to me are “she’s so weird.” “She always has to be different.” “What’s next?” “That’s my weirdo sister at it again.” Secondly, there’s a fear of being ostracized and isolated from family. I have a friend who is “out” and is severely limited in seeing her nieces and nephews and when she is allowed to, is not permitted to speak about or introduce her intimate partners. Last but not least, that once out to my family then I am “out to the world.” The fear is that it could restrict rather than expand what I can do in my life. I volunteer with an abused women’s and children’s shelter where they do thorough background checks. If they were to discover my lifestyle, would that affect their decision to let me do this work?
I have another friend who is out to family and friends… was just honest about his relationships right from the start. At family affairs, it is not unusual for him to show up with his wife and his lover. His parents and children are used to it and accept it as “his way.” I greatly admire his honesty and courage.
The joke is that sometimes we just get outed, unwittingly. My partner noticed that on his Facebook page he had put our relationship status as “open.” He was concerned that I would not want that and changed it. When he told me what he’d done, I asked him to change it back, that I liked the idea of it being there. It felt public enough, yet discreet enough. So he changed it back. A few hours later a friend of mine called. He was laughing when he told me that he’d just received an announcement that I am in an open relationship with David. ”What are you talking about?” He explained that anytime you make a change in your status on Facebook, an announcement is sent out to every one of your “friends.” I was in shock! After I got over my shock, I also started laughing.
Freedom has been my priority in how I lead my life. Truth-speaking, it seems to me, is an inherent part of personal freedom. I have found that in the past, the fears that I harbor around telling the truth are almost always for naught. Perhaps there is nothing to fear. By hiding my lifestyle, I cannot share with my family much of what is important to me…the people I love and who are a significant part of my life and where I’ve come to in my understanding of love. By not sharing this major part of my life…am I not severely limiting our relationship? If so, this is my loss as well as theirs.
How do you feel about sharing your poly lifestyle or more intimate details of your relationships with family and friends?