By Ginger Millay, PQ Monthly
Hey Ma! I’d like you to meet my boyfriend…and my girlfriend…and my slave.
There was a time when coming out as any shade in the queer spectrum was a terrifying prospect. It still can be for many, but deviating from the heterosexual norm is more understood and accepted now than it has ever been. What remains quite difficult share, especially with family, is that you are kinky or polyamorous.
Me? Eh, I tell everyone everything. My family doesn’t just know I’m kinky –they know I’m a professional Dominatrix. Compared to that, polyamory is a walk in the park, as was telling the clan that I like girls.
But does your family really need to know about your sex life? Well, technically, no. If it’s just sex, there’s not any absolute reason to share. Family and more traditional friends don’t necessarily want to know that you and your partner frequent swinger parties, or that you like to tie each other up in kidnapping role play scenes. If, however, you have serious a relationship with someone who is not your primary partner, or have a strong Dom/sub or Master/slave dynamic, if can feel heavy hiding that from the people closest to you.
Sharing something so important to you, knowing that they may not understand or accept it, can be scary. When I first read “The Ethical Slut” at age twenty, my mind was blown. I was psyched to be made aware of this possibility, that I wasn’t terrible for wanting to date more than one person at a time. I was electric when I called a good friend from high school to tell her about it. Though skeptical, she agreed to give it a read, so I popped it in the mail and anxiously awaited her response.
A few days later, she called and I immediately could tell she was agitated. She’d only gotten a few pages in and refused to continue. The very concept angered and upset her. She took it as an excuse for people to cheat, despite my protestation that it, instead, fosters intense honestly between partners. While she accepted my exploring this path, she wanted nothing to do with it. She asked me never to mention it to her again, and I didn’t. When I told her I was kinky, however, she was thrilled and wanted to hear all about it. Other friends and family were accepting of the poly, but disgusted by the kinky.
Why do our loved ones sometimes take such an issue with our lifestyles? Well, I believe there are two main reasons. First, they are worried about us. They cannot comprehend it, and worry for our safety and health. More partners can mean more heartache and more exposure to STIs, and kinky relationships can sometimes literally involve pain. Their concern is understandable, but it is our job to help them try to discern what it means to us, and the joy it can bring us.
The second, more difficult reason they can have a tough time accepting our alternative lifestyles is that they are offended by the very idea of it. They may see our polyamory as an affront to their monogamy. Perhaps they fear that if their partner knew of this possibility, they would also want to give it a go. They may find kink in general to be abhorrent, and think something is wrong with you if you like to participate in BDSM. They might see this power exchange as genuinely insane behavior, especially if you are a bottom/sub/slave.
So why come out in the first place? Well, you certainly don’t have to, and choosing to keep these things to yourself is absolutely a valid and legitimate choice. Do keep in mind, however, that as more people do come out as kinky or polyamorous, the more accepted it will be. Aunt Hilda may think anyone who participates in these lifestyles is totally nuts, until she actually knows someone who does. Once there is a human face on it, it’s not just a wacky concept. They can actually see how it works, and how fulfilled it makes you feel.
When all is said and done, it just feels good to come out, to not have to lie or hide these important aspects of your life. The fear of being rejected for doing so is very real, but the lightness of having done it can be wildly gratifying. My seventeen-year-old sister was the last major player in my life to know that I am poly, but our conversation about it was fantastic. She asked a lot of questions, and ultimately responded the same way she did when I told her, several years earlier, that I dated women, “Well, I don’t think that’s for me, but I’m happy you’re happy.”
Those closest to you should be happy you’re happy. Not all of my family and friends have accepted me (tolerance is one thing that’s not bigger is Texas). But they all had the chance to do so, and I’m glad I gave them that chance. My openness has brought me closer to those who matter, and I love not having to hide—unless it’s part of a role play.
Ginger Millay (@MyGingersnaps) is in love with NYC, where she works independently as an event producer, party planner, and Dominatrix.