Stereotypes

Written by Darragh Doherty & originally published in the "Bi-versity" section of Gay Community News, Ireland

One of the things I'm often asked to stress when I give a talk on bisexuality, or indeed write an article, is our diversity. Time after time, bisexuals are presented as promiscuous, and incapable of 'settling down' with one partner. This of course is nonsense. Being attracted to people on a basis other than gender identity doesn't mean that you can't fall in love with and share a monogamous life with one person. A fair bit of my time, therefore is spent presenting that side of our community, and saying that it be should be recognised, that it's as much a part of us as any other life-style choice.

It's just as valid. But then, so is the stereotype.

I'm the stereotype. Well, I'm not really, in many ways I'd say I'm not at all. But when people hear details of my lifestyle, they think I am. I suppose that's their call - it's all relative. I'm not monogamous. It's not a dogmatic thing, and I have considered it seriously in a couple of cases, but by and large I have problems with it. Not just the practice, but the theory. The idea that loving one person should reduce your capacity to love another is, to me, a very odd notion. Loving one person has always increased my romantic feelings towards other people. Once you enter a mutually loving relationship, you're more likely to trust those romantic yearnings you feel towards others. You trust love more.

It's sad when you hear a few of the counter-arguments that people come out with. One friend said they couldn't do it, because they couldn't bear the idea of someone else making the person they love happy. But the whole idea of love is that you want the other person to always be happy, even when you're not around.

Others say, that I can't really love the other person, as I'm not 'committed'. Well, if they're prepared to leave their lover for loving someone else, whereas I'd support them in that, who is the more committed?

I believed all this before I heard the word 'polyamorous'. It's the politically-correct name for what I am. In the UK bi community, you often hear it called poly, but I can't identify as that - too many parrot jokes to dodge! But it's good that there's a word that defines what I am in terms of what I believe in (i.e. 'many loves'), rather than what I don't.

Will I always be polyamorous? I dunno. Life is fluid, and so is sexuality. I've been in a situation where, while being involved with more than one person, one in particular was my primary love. Had she been monogamous (she's not), I'm sure I'd have accommodated that. But there is a mutual respect involved in polyamory that I find deeply honest and affirming, two qualities I look for in any relationship. I might visit monogamy from time to time, I may enjoy the visit. But I believe it'll only ever be a holiday - polyamory will always be home.


Copyright Darragh Doherty 1999


You can also visit Darragh's home page, which has some more essays and suchlike. But be warned, there's some dodgy Java on there or something (I suspect auto-added by some too-clever-for-its-own-good program) and it may make your browser crash. (how's that for an advert)  :-D hee hee (I did mention this to Darragh but last time I looked, he hadn't got around to fixing it yet...)


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