Sex & Marriage: A Bisexual Perspective


Sex & Marriage: A Bisexual Perspective | A Practical Wedding

After our very first post about sex and marriage, or more particularly waiting to have sex until you got married, I got to thinking that our next sex and marriage post needed to be from a LGBTQ perspective. I started chatting with Desaray (who formerly blogged at Digmoonment, and since her marriage has been whirling through blogs, and is now at Be More Yours) about things I’d learned from the LGBTQ community about relationships and sex. Because here is the thing: it’s fashionable at the moment to say that gay relationships and straight relationships are exactly alike. And, well, love and love are exactly a like, but as Desaray points out, gay relationships are sort of the Galapagos Islands of relationships. EG, if you deny a community access to publicly sanctioned relationships, the one up-side is that gives them all the room in the world to be creative, and to come up with what works for them.

So. As we were saying, what I am very grateful to have learned from a multitude of queer committed relationships that I have had the joy to observe closely in the last 20 years, is that I do not have to set never-failing-no-mistakes-monogamy in the center of my relationship, as a booby trap that has the power to take down a lifetime of commitment. That is, perfect monogamy can be the ever present goal, but I don’t have to conflate perfect manogomy with fidelity.

So. Desaray and I chatted, and then suddenly, I had in my inbox a guest post that gave me chills every time I read it. It made me want to take notes, it made me giggle, in made me teary. And it made me feel a whole lot smarter. So, it’s provocative, and brace yourself for that. And Desaray isn’t speaking for everyone, she’s speaking for her. But DAMN the woman is smart:

….

Sex & Marriage: A Bisexual Perspective | A Practical Wedding

I have the special privilege of being bisexual. That means I’m also bi-cultural when it comes to sex and relationships. I really like to relate to people, too, so I’ve been in a lot of relationships. Long-term, sexual ones involving cohabitation. If you want to do the numbers, I have 10 years and 3 lovely people on my LTR resume. My LTR education includes a bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and a Master’s in Social Work. My LTR skills include: anorgasmia, chat room sex, phone sex, long distance relationships, interracial relationships, impotence, premature ejaculation, heterosexual bed death, pornography addiction, cohabitation, condoms, birth control, non-consensual sex, coming out, dating, on-line dating, internalized transphobia, non-monogamy, female ejaculation, non-legal in-laws, legal name change, marriage-type agreements, divorce-like situations, transgenderism, STDs, BDSM, diamond rings, weddings, re-marriage-type marriages, budgeting, interstitial cystitis and infertility.

Clearly, I’m an LTR expert*.

And what I’ve found is that queer people are really great at sex and heterosexual people are really great at relationships.

What I Learned From Queers About Sex

Everything is sexy. And by this I mean, everything. Queer people taught me how to dance, dress sexy, talk about sex, and watch sex. Queers taught me that almost everything is sexy, including high heels, dresses and cellulite. From watching porn to replacing light bulbs, life is sexy. I guess once I took a millennia of rape and domination out of the equation, I was really able to let my hair down when it came to sex.

Sex is not a deed.
When I started hanging out with queers, I noticed that sex was a lot easier and more fun because in addition to everything being sexy, sex was no longer contractual, it was not transfer or bargain. Sex was an art, a good time, a goal — but it was never binding. (Except, of course, when it was.)

Every relationship is sacred. OK, fine. Queer folks know a thing or two about relationships, too. Without the labels of marriage and divorce in the queer community, all long-term relationships are meaningful, really, romantic or otherwise. It doesn’t matter if your person died, cheated on you or moved out. It doesn’t matter if you shared a lease or fluid or neither. If you loved them, if you lived together, or if they cooked a meal for you during a Judeo-Christian holiday, what you had mattered a lot. Even if it ended. There is no such thing as a “failed” relationship, like the way heterosexuals talk about “failed” marriages.

What I Learned From Heterosexuals About Marriage

Marriage is a group project. As a queer person with a wife, I thought that it didn’t matter if my partner never hung out with my parents and I thought that standing up in front of friends and family to declare my love and devotion was unimportant. For some reason, I was under the impression that my relationships could survive if It my partner skipped the baby showers and birthday parties, or wasnt invited. I thought it was OK that my friends were iffy about her and I had nothing in common with her friends. This was not the case.

Marriage is not a feeling. I called my first wife a wife because I loved her, but we had nary an understanding when it came to money, sex or children. We may no longer come with cows, but heterosexual people taught me that marriage is still an arrangement, rife with expectations, compromises and promises best made explicit and in advance. If you love someone, buy them a coffee, send them a card — heck, you can even have sex with them! But, marrying them is a whole other matter entirely.

Sex is not a choice.
OK, fine. Heterosexuals know a thing or two about sex, too. They were kind of right when they came up with the whole sex-is-a-duty angle. It is non-negotiable. If you’re not having it, you should. If you disagree about it, come to an agreement. Sex is the key to the lock. Sometimes you want the door locked, sometimes you want the door open, but you have to have the key. If you lose the key, you have to get a new one made and if you havent lost the key, you get a spare and hide it. All doors have locks, losing the key doesn’t make the lock disappear. If you lost the key and don’t want to get another one, you’re not going to remove the lock are you? Unless you are going to call the locksmith and have the lock removed, you need to get a key. Because what if some one accidentally locks the door and you can’t get it open? (Heterosexual people also taught me how to talk about sex using extended, extended metaphors.)

Applying What I’ve Learned

In my new role as a lesbian wife, I am trying to apply everything the straights and the gays have taught me about sex and relationships. For me, right now, this means fighting the urge to fret about “divorce” and therefore cling to my marriage. It also means showing up for family functions, in fact, creating family functions and encouraging the family to actually function at them. It means telling our families about our baby plans and asking for their advice, even if makes them uncomfortable. (Well, my wife takes the lead on that one.) It means getting married in a new state every year until the IRS and the Social Security Administration fall to their knees. It also means actively addressing the effects of depression and stress on my sex drive because I now have wifely duties. And it means continuing the conversation about non-monogamy.

Oh hey! I have an LGBTQ marriage tip: For those of you who are trying to convince your partner to experiment with threesomes, do this. Turn to them, sweetly, and say, “Honey, let’s have a threesome,” then start kissing your own arm. Your partner will start kissing your arm because they love your arm, too, and voila — feels like a threesome. Seriously. Try it and report back.

* My sex and relationships resume does not include one night stands, blind dates, multiple orgasm, polyamory, legal marriage, legal divorce, abortion, pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Damn. Maybe I’m not an expert, after all. For a real expert take on sex and relationships from an LGBTQ perspective, I have to recommend Dan Savage’s The Commitment (editors note: you certainly should read this, all of you. If you’re getting married/ newly married/ thinking about getting married and haven’t read it yet, for shame! Go get it today.). He has an especially great take on the role of non-monogamy in marriages.

Photos: from Desaray’s wedding by the lovely Kelly Prizel, APW sponsor, maker of awesome, but not a sponsor of this post. Dan Savage, for the record, was not a sponsor of this post either, though I reckon he’d approve.

BEFORE I OPEN THE COMMENTS: Be nice. Remember that Desaray is being occasionally humorous (I know. On the interwebs and everything. Brave girl). Remember Desaray is speaking for herself, not for the whole LGBTQ community, or really the whole of anything. And remember that comment report button, if someone is being, well, harsh.

read the comment policy before you post

  • Liana

    “It means getting married in a new state every year until the IRS and the Social Security Administration fall to their knees. ”

    I wish I could exactly that comment a thousand times!

  • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

    Haha oh man… talk about being uncomfortable, intrigued, excited and curious. Way to go, Desaray!

  • http://missfancypantsthebride.blogspot.com/ miss fancy pants

    Such a great post. That’s one of the things I love about APW, whether it’s about weddings and death, marriage on money or marriage from a bisexual perspective like this, we all get to learn about someone else and experience a tiny part of the challenges and joy they have faced in their relationships.
    Also, I love the threesome idea. Too funny.

  • Ruby

    I can’t express how wonderful it is to have a bisexual post about marriages, or even about relationships. As a bisexual in a straight relationship, I often feel as if half of my life has been airbrushed out – because, by having the good luck to fall in love with a man and not a woman, I am “accepted” into the social norm, leaving me out of the (often heartbreaking) discussions of gay marriages. But just because on the outside we look like a “normal” straight couple, that doesn’t mean that I quite fall into being a “normal” wife (as if there’s any such thing as normal anyway). So thank you Desaray, for talking about your own individual, wonderful marriage. Plus, according to the cultural barometer of Wikipedia, apparently being married to a bisexual woman makes a marriage more likely to last!!

    • Rachel

      I agree, Ruby. I’m also a bisexual woman marrying a man and sometimes I feel like I’m sort of short-changing my queer half. I absolutely adore my fiance and am thrilled to spend the rest of my life with him, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I just think to myself “Damnit, my mother won” because we fought over my orientation for SO many years and she just prayed and prayed that I would end up with a man. *sigh* It’s hard to explain what I’m trying to say, but it’s an interesting point of view on the world – ‘fitting in’ and ‘looking like a normal heterosexual couple’ even though that really isn’t the case. Sometimes I want to scream it in people’s faces or stick up for myself in the face of people’s assumptions.
      That probably comes from years of fighting with my mom about it, but also the years I spent heavily involved in the transgendered community while I dated a trans-man. I feel a lot of solidarity with the queer community and I don’t want that to fall by the wayside just because I am now the future female wife of a heterosexual man. Anyway, what a fun fact from Wikipedia!

    • KristieB

      Ruby & Rachel – I have to say “exactly!” to both of you.

      As a bisexual woman who just married a man, I am struggling with this more than I ever expected. My husband and I fall into that very heterosexual norm – he makes more money, we have 2 dogs, I make dinner every night… The norm I’ve been fighting for as long as I remember. As someone who has never “come out” (everyone close to me knows I like boys AND girls), I’m finding it frustrating that people (mostly the queer community that I volunteer with) assumes I am straight because I’m in a straight marriage. I feel like I’ve somehow let myself down because I didn’t fall in love and marry a woman – thus being able to completely set our own course for our marriage. Being in a “straight” marriage comes with a set of rules no matter how much of a trailblazer you are. The part of all of these “rules” that bothers me most is that I am actually fairly comfortable living in them. *punch in the face*

      • Rachel

        yes yes yes yes yes. I KNOW. haha

      • Adventurist

        A thousand times “exactly” to this response, and to the feeling of part of your life being “airbrushed” out when you are a bisexual, or pansexual, who ends up in a “straight” marriage. I still haven’t figured out how to handle this–if I were in a relationship with a woman then everyone would know I was something other than totally straight. But since I’m married to a man I feel like I either have to constantly come out to new acquaintances (who I may or may not feel like discussing my private life with) or feel like I’m hiding something. Can we have a post about this? (Ideally from someone who’s figured out how do deal with it a little better than I have.)

        • Shannon

          Oh wow, I can’t believe I’m just discovering the comments for this post, which I’ve read several times. Like Meg, I think it might be my favourite post on APW… It just wades right in to the rather messy world of marriage and sexual orientation. I have to say, as a woman who is sexually attracted to many different kinds of people (sorry, I just can’t get behind any of the “labels” for that, though I respect other people’s use of those words), there’s been a weird sort of disappointment about marrying a man… I mean, obviously, I’m delighted to be marrying HIM in particular, but I do realize that on the outside we look like a “regular” heterosexual couple, and he is most definitely heterosexual. He loves and totally accepts my sexual identity, and it’s certainly never been a problem in our relationship. But it’s a bit of a tricky one when you’re out there in the world interacting with other people… I haven’t figured it out yet either! And maybe there is no such thing as “figuring it out.” Maybe we just need to keep talking about it!

    • http://laidymondegreen.wordpress.com Erin

      I have to agree with you about how fantastic it is to see a post from a bisexual woman.

      My husband and I had a tough time dealing with this as we got married. I felt like a part of myself was just being locked away forever. By choosing a man, I felt that I was somehow becoming not bisexual anymore (which is obviously silly, because I still like women just as much as I ever did).

      It turned out that my husband doesn’t feel threatened by the idea of me having sex with women, and has said that in addition to being fine with threesomes, he’s fine with me having sex with a woman without him being involved. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I asked him if I could also have sex with a man without him being involved, if I wanted to do that. He said no. I said there wasn’t a difference. He said there was a big difference. I said that he wasn’t giving a relationship (or sex) with a woman the same weight as with a man. He said that a woman wouldn’t interact with me in the same way he does, and so it wasn’t a threat. And so on. So for now, we’re sticking to monogamy, until we figure out what we both actually want and can accept.

      It’s fantastic to know that there are other women out there dealing with similar sorts of issues. What a relief! (And what a smart post!)

      • anonforthis

        I just exactlied but I want to add:

        I have had that uncomfortable talk with an ex. The “you’re not giving what I could do with a woman the same weight” discussion. Ours ended pretty badly. And so (of course) I then put that statement to the test. Hence the ex. Turns out that to him it was pretty hurtful for me to have a one night stand with a girl, despite his claimed heterocentrism.

        So maybe it’s not actually lesser issue, though it would be nice if our partners always said what they felt. Sometimes they can’t know what they would feel without being there, and without the cultural guidance that is built into “traditional” situations.

        I guess my ex learned to take all relationships seriously, and I learned to be more careful with other people’s hearts. My new policy is to talk it out, give it time, and talk it out some more.

        Good luck to everyone!

        I <3 APW.

      • Marina

        My husband is also okay with me having sex with a woman but not with a man. At this point, I kind of just treat it like any other irrational hangup either of us have about polyamory–it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t matter WHY it doesn’t make sense, because it exists. Which is what matters. (And it’s not like I don’t have my own irrational hangups. I’m fine with him having sex with other women, I was fine the time I was across the country and his girlfriend stayed over at our house for a week, but if he stays out past 10pm on a night when I’m home I frrrrrreak out. Go figure.) Luckily, it’s still a theoretical issue, as I haven’t wanted to have sex with another man since we got together. My current plan is that if (when) it’s not a theoretical issue, it’ll be much easier to hash it out. Me having sex with a theoretical man may have all kinds of threatening implications, but me having sex with an actual man would enable us to talk about what is ACTUALLY his worry, and what needs he wants to make sure are getting met, etc etc all those good polyamory discussions. I believe that once he actually sees me with another man, it’ll be easier for him to see that of course I’m not getting the same needs met by having sex with another man, or replacing him in any way.

        • Carla

          I would like to respectfully post a word of warning: it might seem easier to hash it out when there’s an actual physical “someone” to fill in the blank with on polyamory discussions, but it also lends a pretty serious but-he’s-here-now-and-I-wanna for some people. It’s worth having theoretical discussions with even an imaginary stand-in person, depending on the issue that requires said hashing.

    • http://bondingcarbonunits.wordpress.com/ Sarah K.

      God, I can’t hit this “Exactly” button hard enough.

      I’ve been dating my fiance for ten years– since high school. I realized I was bisexual in college (ahhh, college). My close friends in school were amazing as they helped me through it, my close guy friends from home were completely unsurprised (they basically looked at me and said, “took you long enough to figure THAT out”), and my boyfriend (now fiance) was completely and utterly supportive.

      But to my family, my coworkers, and the rest of society, I’m easy– straight, and engaged to a man. Voila, the safe and socially acceptable life. But I feel like there’s a part of me that’s being left purposefully unsaid, and I don’t like it. Our ceremony will have a reading and moment of silence for marriage equality, and I am probably going to wear a White Ribbon on my wrist. It’s an aesthetically heterosexual wedding and marriage, with some decidedly queer underpinnings. …But that’s reflective of me and my fiance, so I’m okay with that mix. :)

      • Maddie

        Um… Can we be penpals? You just described my life story. <3

    • Marisa-Andrea

      On some level sometimes, people often think this means you’ve “chosen” sides. A strange notion, but seems to be one that is quite rampant.

    • H.E.

      I, too, am I bisexual woman who has had a string of long-term heterosexual relationships. I am lucky in that my fiance is willing to allow me to have a relationship on the side should the opportunity arise (emotional/sexual does not matter)…although I think that’s more because he fantasizes of a threesome, and he understands my needs better than any man I’ve been with does. (Good man!) I do feel like people don’t see ALL of me because I appear straight (I even have three kids). I feel like I can’t say certain things I’d love to, either because so many people see me as straight, or because I have no friends to say them to who might understand: how attractive someone is, what it was like growing up (first gay crushes, etc), what it feels like to be bi (I am different with men and women – are you?), etc…. I feel like there’s a lack. I wish I could have both. My secret fantasy is having a spouse and a lover…like Eleanor Roosevelt. Sad, huh? Thank you for sharing your thoughts. :) I agree COMPLETELY with what the rest of you lovely bi women are saying.

  • http://greenjunkieliving.com Olivia Jane

    I love love love love love this post. The beautiful honesty, the grace and humor with which Desaray discusses deeply personal perspectives, and the openness that makes this resonate so deeply with me, even though I’m a fairly straight woman marrying a man. Just. Brilliant.

  • Anna

    Thank you for talking about sex as art versus sex as a commodity. I think this is something that people of any sexual orientation should think about more often and in meaningful ways.

  • http://twentyfirstcenturynomad.blogspot.com Kortney

    That’s a lot to unload. I had to read it two or three times to pull my thoughts together. I both agree and disagree with Desaray. I don’t think gay and hetero relationships are intrinsically different but rather that legal and cultural expectations have kind of forced them into different ways of expression. For so many gay couples, denial of the right marry does kind of put a temporary stamp on things. I’m not saying people don’t or can’t have long lasting, loving relationships without a certificate, but rather that a denial to marriage seems to put you in a less permanent state of mind. (Desaray herself says, “heterosexual people taught me that marriage is still an arrangement, rife with expectations, compromises and promises best made explicit and in advance.”)

    But I also think cultural resistance of homosexual equality has played a huge part. I think refusal to accept and support each other sometimes encourages more extreme behaviors (it’s the whole ex-communication backlash sort of thing) which may or may not be harmful to those who participate and, at the very least, further polarizes peoples’ views.

    I think some of the things Desaray mentions have the potential to polarize people based on those two facets (legal limitations and cultural expectations) but that’s no reason to not experiment or share one’s findings on love, relationships and sex. The only real way to equality is through understanding and acceptance of each others’ differences.

    I don’t necessarily agree with her on making or seeing everything as sexy, but I definitely see that living without rules has made her happier and more free, and that her experiences from both sides of the bed (hetero and homosexual) have given her a unique and valuable perspective on what makes a relationship a relationship and what makes a fling just a fling. Her experiences and opinions on the nature of love and all it entails are just as valid and important as anyone else’s and they are needed to help further acceptance of all people.

    Coming away from this, I feel thoughtful and more excited about the future for gay couples. Hasten the day of equality! Thanks for sharing, Desaray.

  • Marisa

    This is a great post. Honest and provocative and the first I’ve seen that openly addresses non-monogamy in marriage too. It is a valid choice and for some people it really works.

    I’m in a heterosexual marriage, and what you said above just strengthens the amazing lessons I’ve learned from my straight, gay and queer friends alike about sex and relationships. They taught me how to play and laugh and experiment with things that are “wrong” – that as long as everyone is consenting and happy, trying naughty things is ok! Most importantly I learned that when you let yourself be free and stop worrying about your fat thighs or what the face you’re making looks like, sex can be tons of fun.

    And that’s a good life lesson too.

    Thanks Desaray!

    • peanut

      Thank you so much for your insight; I am heterosexual and really appreciate the lessons that can be learned from other types of relationships.

      I would like to hear more from married or committed couples who have a successful non-monogamous relationship.

  • BDineen

    I discovered Deseray’s blog(s) through Practical and have appreciated her joy, humor, and pure grit through her writing for the past several months. Her words have resonated with me here.

    Like Ruby above I am a bi woman who is marrying a man. It wasn’t just “good luck” or a” breath of relief” as society would make me think, he is my soul mate. And as I see it, I had double the amount of people to choose from and out of all of them, he is the one.

    I feel as though when we talk about marriage, we are speaking of anyone who is crazy enough to want to commit themselves to one person for the rest of their lives whether they are straight or LGBQT. There can be no POV eliminated because all of our POVs make up what marriage CAN be; not what it is required to be. And thats what makes marriage beautiful: complete with tradition, rocked with new definitions, fraught with emotion, and most of all bound by love!

    So thanks for the wonderful words Deseray. Marriage rocks.

  • Cat

    I also have to agree and disagree :)

    I don’t know so much about seeing everything as sexy. Personally (of course, I speak for no one but myself. I’ll ‘first person’ this, feel free to disagree) I don’t think as a queer I’m any more sexual than heterosexuals, I think I’m just more open about it. I think that sex was so much a part of negotiating my identity -especially during coming out- that I just HAD to get used to it. Talking about, doing it, watching it (porn in our case, we ARE monogamous and exclusive) doesn’t feel like a big deal after spending a good few of my formative years figuring out who I am through the frame of sexuality. I think, respectfully (and please no one flame me for this!) that the idea that queers are so much more sexual than heterosexuals is one of the ideas holding up the equality movement.

    I do have to agree that the sense of freedom is brilliant. I am definitely only into the ladies, my favourite part of planning our marriage was figuring out what we want that to mean. There are very few expectations or ‘you have to!!’s, negotiating our own marriage almost from scratch was so amazingly rewarding… I will leave it there or this is going to end up the same length as the post!

    Great post, great springboard for discussion. And now I’m going to go contemplate the sexiness of lightbulb changing ;)

    • Cat

      Also, just tried making out with my arm, the wife just looked at me like I’m nuts. Doesn’t look like a two person threesome is going to become part of our menu.

    • meg

      I think that is what she’s saying though. I don’t think she’s saying LGBTQ people are more sexual, just that they have a different relationship to sex. Which in my experience I’d say is as good a sum up as any.

      • Cat

        That I definitely agree with, and something I really love about being gay. I think perhaps I read it in a different tone to the one Deseray wrote it in (hooray Internet). I reacted to the wording I suppose. I DO think the idea that ‘queer = all about the sex’ is one that needs changing before marriage equality will get anywhere in a real, concrete way.

        • Wifebian

          Gay Assimilationists seek to tone down the sexual aspect of gay pride, they feel that sexuality is one component of gay relationships and seek to emphasize much more the loving, financial, community, and faith based aspects of LGBT relationships. Queer Liberationists do not seek to hide their sexuality and gender expression, they seek to embrace it and encourage what has conventionally been frowned upon as inappropriate.
          These are two diametrically opposed political camps. Most people have various opinions that don’t fall so heavily into one party or the other. Where do you lie? (http://queersunited.blogspot.com)

          • sarah

            In my experience, looking at these two camps as two “diametrically opposed political camps” makes conversations about equality, equity, and justice for LGBTQ folks really difficult to have (especially in mixed company… like a predominantly heterosexual wedding blog). LGBTQ folks who have chosen to fight for equal rights through marriage (for whom you use the pretty derogatory name “Gay Assimilationists”) are not diametrically opposed to LGBTQ folks who have chosen for fight for a just society through societal reconstruction (Queer Liberationists). Bridges need to be built between these two camps, not boundaries. I think most lefties would agree that they both make valid points and should start working together instead of against each other.

          • Wifebian

            sarah, i agree. i was just poking. :)

          • Cat

            Poke away. I’ve been thinking this over for hours. I’ll be getting back to you when I’m not at work and replying from a phone :)

          • meg

            She was rather clearly just poking.

            And PLEASE don’t call APW a “primarily heterosexual wedding blog.” Talk about fence building. APW is more LGBTQ than the population is, that’s for damn sure. Since we’re not gay centric, we’re everyone centric, we don’t have an all gay readership, no. But we have a lot of LGBTQ readers, and 95% of everyone else is allied. Besides, I think most of us exists that sexuality exists on a more fluid scale, so please don’t box us up as “other” that way, mmmkay?

    • Michele

      I tend to agree with you Cat, in regards to your point about perceptions about queer sexuality holding up the equality movement. I think this is particularly true in regards to queer men, which is incredibly unfortunate.

      It’s a tough one, because on one hand I think we (queers and those who support them – and their rights – unequivocally) MUST talk candidly about queer sex and relationships in an effort to sort of “desensitize” (not the exact word I’m looking for) those who don’t. But on the other hand, I think we also have to be very careful and exceptionally deliberate about how we do so, because unfortunately there IS a perception that queers are so much more sexual than straight people.

      I LOVE this post, but there are also a number of things contained with in it that could be “weaponized” and used to reinforce negative stereotypes and promote continued discrimination.

      On the other hand, that’s a big part of what makes it so brave in the first place.

      • meg

        It’s up because Desaray was willing to say a lot of honest things that we are not supoposed to discuss.

        • sarah

          I think in some ways, it depends on who you mean by “we.” If this post had been on an LGBTQ blog, I bet a lot of LGBTQ readers would have responded differently to it. It can be scary to see something like that out there and know that a lot of straight folks (even if they are allies) are reading it. I know personally, as a lesbian, I would be really hesitant to use humor that essentializes my community in mixed company (especially internet mixed company when I really don’t know who’s listening and how they’re interpreting it).

          You say that Desaray is posting about things “we’re” not supposed to talk about. I kind of feel like straight people really SHOULDN’T talk about the quality of gay relationships versus straight relationships this way. I know that Desaray is married to a womna, but I also think that when readers from non-oppressed groups hear people from oppressed groups talking a certain way about their oppressed community, sometimes the non-oppressed readers feel like they then have permission to talk that way, too. And… most of the time… they don’t.

          I don’t know if that made sense. I hope it did. I did really loved Desaray’s post… I just… I worry that straight folks will read it and think that they can go around talking about how people like me think everything is sexy… because… I don’t. I also worry that people will read this post and think that LGBTQ folks never wanted their families of origin to be a part of their marriages — because we did… for centuries… they all just refused acknowledge us… so we stopped asking them over to dinner. It’s not that we didn’t care… it’s that we weren’t recognized.

          • meg

            Look, the APW community has spent years building the trust to have these kinds of hard conversations with each other. Conservative Christians say things about themselves here, in front of a bunch of liberals, that make them really vulnerable. And said things are rationally discussed. So yeah, I’m going to let LGBTQ readers stand up and say things that make them vulnerable too. Plus, you’re making a *whole* lot of assumptions about *my* background, and *my* experances, and wheather or not I have the write to put this stuff up. And frankly, you have no information to make that decision.

            I do see what you’re saying, but I think that when we put ourselves in camps, we really do a serious disservice to the discussions we can have as women. And as I said above, calling APW a ‘heterosexual wedding blog’ is not ok. We’re NOT a wedding blog that is gay or straight. Period. I’ve fought long and hard to make sure that is the case.

          • http://greenjunkieliving.com Olivia Jane

            I understand that I may not totally “get” it (all of my romantic relationships have been with men, and I am a woman marrying a man), but did Meg not say at the beginning that Desaray was speaking *for herself*? Goodness knows not all straight folks view weddings/relationships/sex in the same way. I think–certainly for the APW readership–people deserve some credit to acknowledge that Desaray’s experience is *hers* and cannot be extrapolated to all queer marriages. When the straight bloggers write, we accept it as an individual account. Aren’t we doing a disservice to our queer counterparts (for lack of a better term) by not giving them the credit of individual opinions?

          • sarah

            I completely value Desaray’s experience. As I said, I liked her post. What I am commenting on is the experience I had reading it. I think that comes across pretty clearly in my comments.

      • ANI

        I think the word you are looking for is “normalize”

  • Wifebian

    for me, being queer means being different, radical, other and all that good stuff. i think identifying as queer is different that identifying as bi, gay, etc. we are different. queer sex is different. i believe that what most negatively impacts our equality movement is the notion that sameness some how warrants equal rights where as difference means subjugation and shame.

    • http://somewhatbookish.wordpress.com Carrie

      I just want to second that thought. As a fairly mainstream lesbian (I’m not using queer here intentionally, although that is a word I use sometimes), I am very hesitant of anything that suggests that you should accept me (or anyone else who sleeps with, dates or marries someone of the same gender) because I am just “the same” as you. People should be accepted because they are people, not because they are similar enough to you that you don’t feel uncomfortable.

      That said, I also hear what Cat is saying because Desaray’s experience division of queer folks/sex and straight folks/relationships also made me a little uncomfortable at first. I do read Desaray’s other blogs and have for a while, so what she says isn’t surprising to me – it was just that moment of “oh no, we are telling the straight folks our relationships are about sex “. Which I know isn’t what she was saying, but does go to show that how deeply ingrained this fear is of how this minority to which I belong portrays itself publicly.

      So thanks for the reminder, Wifebian, it’s exactly what I needed to hear after reading Desaray’s (really wonderful, and thought-provoking post). You make a good team!

    • meg

      This may be my favoriet comment. I think that when we insist that we must all be the same, we ALL really get robbed of a lot of richness. I’m, frankly, not sure that I want to fight for a world where gay people are exactly like straight people. I’m not at all sure that straight people need to be re-making the world in their image, thankyouverymuch.

      • sarah

        Meg,
        I couldn’t respond to your comment above, so I’m going to respond here. I understand why you are upset with me for calling APW a “primarily heterosexual wedding blog,” because you’ve done a really great job of making sure that it is a mixed community. The comment was not meant as a dig at APW at all. I love it here, and I love it here precisely because it’s a mixed community. I simply meant the readership is heavily heteroseuxal — that’s not a bad thing… there’s a lot of them around!

        You also read my comment as if I was saying that you had no right to post Desaray’s piece. I don’t feel that way at all. What I was voicing was the same fear that a lot of the LGBTQ commenters have voiced. I think to some of us, it’s scary to read essentializing humor in mixed company — ESPECIALLY in mixed company that’s full of people that you trust.

        And lastly, I wasn’t making any assumptions about you in my previous post. I really was just talking about the phenomenon that all oppressed people (women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, etc) have experienced: saying something essentializing about your community (perhaps in the form of a joke) and then hearing similar stuff come back at you from folks who do it inappropriately. No one here has done that… but because I’ve had bad experiences with this in the past — it scares me. That’s not an assault on APW… it’s my own fear that comes from my own experience.

        I hope that clarifies where I’m coming from.

      • lurker

        I’m not into calling everyone the same either. We learn things from our differences and I think that’s part of what Meg and Desaray wanted to capture with this post. But this post seemed to call all straight people the same and all queer people the same. Changing the wording of this post to emphasize how Desaray learned these things from her relationships or her community rather than from “Queers” and “Heterosexuals” would have gone a long way.

        As a minority that is actively discriminated against, you develop armor against society’s stereotypes. When I watch a political debate or, god forbid, FOX news, I expect to hear my relationship devalued and it bounces off the armor. From experience, I’ve come to view APW as a supportive arena for the discussion of difficult topics and my armor isn’t up. But yesterday, someone wrote on APW: “the straight community is better at relationships than yours is.” This felt like a rejection of my relationship, even if it was partially in jest or wasn’t meant to be as general as it sounded. Since this was in a context that I expected to be supportive, it felt like being hit when my guard was down. My armor will be back on for the next few days when I check APW, because this post made it harder for me as a queer woman to trust APW as a safe space. Of course it will come down again with time and more sensitive posts, but did you want it ever to be up? (There’s my extended metaphor for the day! :) )

        • Marina

          APW is important to me to have as a safe space as well (in fact, I just recommended it to a friend as the one place on the internet I feel safe reading the comments) and I feel really sad that you had that experience of a comment sending your armor up again.

          At the same time, I personally don’t want my safe spaces to be spaces where I never hear anything that is uncomfortable or untrue. I want my safe spaces to be spaces where, when I do hear something uncomfortable or untrue, I can call it out and know that I’ll be supported in doing so. I didn’t read the specific comment you mentioned, but I hope that someone called it out, because UGH.

  • Amandover

    My favorite part is “Every relationship is sacred…There’s no such thing as a failed relationship.” From my perspective, this attitude could save people a lot of heartache. If you value the connection with a unique human being that even a one-night-fling can bring, you’re free to be realistic about how long it will last. If you value the experience rather than the “relationship status,” then your self-worth doesn’t even enter the equation (as it unfortunately so often does when we use labels). It prevents dependency, and leaves people whole even when they break up.
    Not that I’m saying it’s easy to ride the line between throwing your whole self in or becoming jaded and cavalier.
    Because, in my experience, you still have to respect every romantic experience. It is sacred, and (on the topic of monogamy) I don’t believe meaningless hook-ups exist. They don’t have to mean so much they’re a threat to a monogamous relationship, but every connection has meaning, or rather worth. But if you don’t let those connections define you, you can enjoy and move on – or put in the work to be in an evolving, committed relationship.
    Now, I’m engaged to a man who sees relationships as more absolute, and that’s fine. I love him, I choose to be with him, and I don’t really want to have a non-monogamous relationship. But it scares him that I don’t think cheating on someone is the worst sin ever. So maybe this little tangent can help explain why monogamy doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing.

    • Lauren

      Yes, I totally agree. I think it’s not that non-monogamy is inherently problematic or threatening to a relationship, but it is if the people involved have agreed to be completely monogamous. In other words, what threatens a relationship is breaking the agreements you have with each other, not any particular type of action.

      • mollymouse

        Not only “Exactly!” Lauren, but thank you for saying this in the perfect words. I’m so glad you beat me to it, because my wording was gew-y.

      • Anon today

        I agree that breaking promises to your partner is what causes problems in a relationship. However, I think certain promises carry more weight than others. My husband and I promised monogamy when we married. We also promised to consult each other before making big purchases. If he came home with an ipad without talking to me about it, I’d be pissed. But it would be a whole different level of betrayal if he slept with another woman.

        • meg

          True. But those are problems on different levels. If you really want to evaluate how you feel about it (and I have no idea how that is) I think you need to compare: your husband comes home with an ipad, or he comes home and confessed he flirted with someone in a bar. Your husband drains 100K from your bank account with a gambling problem or your husband sleeps with another woman. Your husband blows your entire life savings, everything you’ve worked for for 40 years, or he has a multi-year affair.

          I mean, god forbid, on all of these things. But I guess what I’m saying is, for me, breaking sexual vows is about the same as breaking other vows. The lifesavings vs. multi-year affair question, for me? I think they are both probably just as bad…. And learning that the sexual vows were just equally important, not THE CENTRAL THING for me… was very freeing.

  • jolynn

    I love this! Thank you! I love that we can all learn things from those around us.

    In terms of monogamy vs fidelity, it’s something that I’ve been slowly coming to. When I was younger I was firm in “me and only me always or you’re out the door”. As I’ve grown, I understand that this is unrealistic and even unhealthy. I struggle with this, however, because I have several instances in my immediate family where monogamy and fidelity are both lacking, and this has made me want to cling to the strict black-and-white lines.

    Relationships are gray. That’s good, because it forces us to talk and communicate and grow, in ourselves and in each other. All I can do is trust mine, and evaluate it to make sure that it is healthy for me and my significant other.

    And enjoy the sexiness and the silliness and the seriousness and the community. Excellent.

    • FK

      I definitely agree with what you’re saying about each person evaluating for herself/himself what works and is healthy for their own relationship, but I just want to say that I think it is ALSO healthy to have a strictly monogamous relationship and can be realistic depending on the people involved. Although certainly not necessarily! Like you say, I think it comes down to the individuals.

      • jolynn

        I wholeheartedly agree that it’s healthy to have monogamous relationships. I’ve been very, very lucky to only be in them (other than stupid high school cheated-on). My significant other is very loyal, incredibly devoted to me, and would pretty much rather tear his own limb off than replace me with some other woman in any area. Which I value, because I am the same way in a relationship.

        I have family experience with lots of extremes on this (including a polyamorous brother-in-law) that makes me want to cling desperately to black-and-white ideals such as “never ever think of someone else” which I don’t think is realistic. I’m still mid-figuring it out, because even though I’m pretty comfortable with how it plays between my partner and I, and we’ve discussed it at length, I also sort of have to figure out how I feel about it in world-view, because eventually I’ll be done with school and go into family counseling (eek). So I really like hearing from all views. Including yours! :)

  • Queerly Yours

    This piece gave me CHILLS because I related to so much of it and it was so great to see it articulated. I’m a butch queer woman in my late 20s. I am also bi, though I rarely use that term. I dated women exclusively from 15 to 22, when I surprised myself by falling in love with a queer man. We married in a tiny courthouse ceremony that we did mostly so I could get health insurance (we didn’t invite family). When our marriage broke up a few years later, I went back to dating women and I’m now engaged to a beautiful, sweet bisexual femme woman who I just can’t wait to make my wife.

    There are SO MANY THINGS that my ex-husband and I did wrong in our marriage because of our both being so thoroughly queer that we had never considered heterosexual marriage a model. First, was trying to have an open relationship, as was common in our queer community. I’m sorry, but after many years of “polyamory”, open marriage, etc – I feel very strongly that this is not a sustainable or ethical model of marriage or commitment. The second was being hesitant to call each other “my husband” or “my wife” because of not wanting to be seen as heterosexual (I should mention I looked *very* boyish at the time). The third was not making any plan with regards to finances. But even more major? Our families were not there to be part of our union, and we devalued our marriage by not involving our spiritual community or making it have a religious/spiritual component. G-d was not there. Family was not there. Instead, only the state was, and a few close friends. I get that some people are atheist, and some queer people don’t have family who would come to their wedding – But we weren’t, and we did have family who would have come, and who were deeply saddened by not being part of this. I could go on about what went wrong, but that’s not the point. The point is… I have learned. Marriage is not a feeling, but it’s also not simply a piece of paper from city hall.

    My (female) fiancee and I enjoy our monogamy, even when we go longer periods than we’d like without sex because both of us have chronic pain. We are having a (budget) wedding ceremony for 150-200 people. We want to surround ourselves with all our extended family and friends and everyone who loves us, even if it means we can’t afford to serve them all fancy food! We are creating a ceremony that honors our commitment to our faith. As hard as it is, we are starting to talk more about money and how we will deal with finances – A loaded topic, for sure. We are embracing each others’ parents as our in-laws with all their faults, and seeing marriage as a “group project”, like you said. This even means going to family functions we’d rather skip.

    I have used the word “married” about past partnerships, including ones with women and the one with a man (the one that actually had a piece of paper saying we were married). Those were not marriages. Because marriage is not a feeling, nor a piece of paper. It is an act, a project, a commitment, a celebration, a struggle, a state of mind, an obligation, a shared piece of work. One that you don’t jump ship on just because you feel like you’re drifting apart.

    • http://www.puppiesnpancakes.blogspot.com Kristi

      Just wanted to say that I love this phrase you used:

      “Because marriage is not a feeling, nor a piece of paper. It is an act, a project, a commitment, a celebration, a struggle, a state of mind, an obligation, a shared piece of work. One that you don’t jump ship on just because you feel like you’re drifting apart.”

      Exactly.

  • AlsoMeg

    WOW. Fantastic post, Des. Your perspective is simply brilliant- I’m trying to figure out how to get my future husband to read your take on hetero relationships, without saying “so look what I read on APW today” again. But it’s a good challenge to have. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nina

      Just wanted to *exactly* out loud your comment about “so look what I read on APW today” – I’ve said this too many times to count and I think the fiance might be starting to think I’m obsessed :-)

      • Mollie

        Me too — but I straight up admit that I AM obsessed! Love love love.

      • http://newlydomesticated.blogspot.com Newly Domesticated

        I sent my fiance the discussion on finances with the subject line: REQUIRED READING. lol.

  • http://bravebride.blogspot.com/ Kim NYC

    Oh, man. Wow.

    I am a straight woman with several LGBTQ family members. I thought my family background gave me a lot of insight into the LGBTQ community (and it does), but this post really fascinated and challenged me. So thank you for sharing, Desaray!

    Your post got me thinking about non-traditional “open” marriages vs. more traditional ones when it comes to sex. My fiance and I have agreed that our goal is to be monogamous. But given the reality of my life as of late (my parents’ and siblings’ partnerships- some open, some traditional- have all involved major infidelity issues and subsequent trauma), my fiance and I talk a lot about our game plan for if/when one of us breaks our promise. (Immediate divorce: no. Separation: possibly. Marriage counseling: hell yes.) It’s not a fun topic, but *talking about it* and negotiating is what this whole marriage thing is about (for us, anyway).

    Bottom line is that committed and married people make a promise to fight hard for their partnerships, whether that means negotiating the terms of their open marriage, or discussing the *intended* game plan if one were to break the monogamy promise. And while I’m up for the challenge of fighting for my relationship, I’m deathly afraid of the sweat and tears that it will require.

    Cold feet? Got ‘em. But trying to remain realistic AND hopeful.

  • A-L

    Very interesting, very thought-provoking, and very brave. I’m still not sure that I’ve entirely wrapped my head around all the ideas mentioned, but it’s definitely something for me to chew on. Thanks so much for writing this, Desaray, and for posting this, Meg.

  • http://adesertfete.blogspot.com jamie

    great post. you women are so smart. thanks for continuing to bring it to a deeper level- meg, desaray & crew!

  • Cupcake

    Brilliant post! I’m also a bisexual woman marrying a heterosexual man. I’m not surprised there are so many piping up who have a similar perspective. It’s just plain easier to meet and date straights.

    Monogamy and fidelity are important to both of us right now. But in a way, it does feel like I’m choosing to shut off part of who I am. However, with marriage, we choose one person, a man or a woman (for the sake of this argument– though gender is a spectrum, not dichotomus). The “or” in that choice makes marriage a more complicated institution for bisexuals.

    At the same time, it’s consistent with who I’ve always been– I’ve found a person I want to be with, and it has nothing to do with their gender. It has to do with who he is and who we are as a couple. Neither of us strictly conforms to gender roles, and I think that helps a lot. We’re not trying to fit into what straight culture wants us to be (even though at a glance we look like we “fit in”).

    In the end you never really shut off who you are. We’ll both always be attracted to women (and for me other men too). That seems pretty human, regardless of who you are or how you identify.

  • lurker

    Am I the only queer out there who found this mildly offensive? I still want to applaud Desaray for sharing her opinions on the interwebs, and I am trying to be constructively critical. But it seems to me that this post boils down to “Queers taught me about sex, straights taught me about expectations, including expectations about sex.” (Only the “every relationships is sacred” point is an exception to this summary.) I feel like this overall message plays directly into all sorts of stereotypes about queers and straights, and is precisely why my parents are so against my queer engagement – they thinks it’s all about sex and not about loyalty and fidelity. I understand what Desaray is saying, we do learn different things from different communities, and I’m glad her experience had given her these wise words. But I wish they had been stated with more care and recognition of the stereotypes in place and how these stereotypes can be hurtful.

    • ANDREA

      I agree with this. I believe that she was probably using the headings more to organize her post than to play into stereotypes, plus she was saying “I learned X from the Y group”, not “the Y group only cares about X”, but I still see where you’re coming from and why it could potentially hurt. But, I still think her points are excellent and a much-needed perspective for some people to see.

      • meg

        Well, that and she was being funny (and intentionally playing with our sterotypes). Which pretty much always gets you in trouble online.

    • Wifebian

      Are gay families making the US world safer for all gay folks, or just for the ‘good gays’ who choose to live in traditional family structures, thereby making the world much less safe for those who seek other ways to live and form relationships and be sexual? Who gets to decide who the ‘good’ gay or straight person is, what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sexual practice, and how the line gets drawn and by whom? A queer perspective is a queer perspective. It is just part of the diaspora. We need to be careful about putting limits on our own community for the purpose of being good queers and getting good PR.

      • sarah

        Yes… everyone needs to expand their definitions or throw them out altogether… However, by asking:

        “Are gay families making the US world safer for all gay folks, or just for the ‘good gays’ who choose to live in traditional family structures, thereby making the world much less safe for those who seek other ways to live and form relationships and be sexual?”

        you’re implying that growth the existence of families like mine (married lesbians planning to have children) is doing harm to less traditional LGBTQ individuals and communities. And I really think that that is a false claim. The existence of my family does not make the world a less safe place for “those who seek other ways to live.”

        • meg

          No. She’s not. Since she’s a married lesbian trying to have children.

          • sarah

            I guess I just received so much push back from the queer community when we decided to get married that I’m a little sensitive to the queers vs. gays stuff. It’s actually a very touchy subject in the circles that I run in — I’ve seen debates about this ruin long-term friendships — so, I tend to respond emotionally. Wifebian — if you were upset by my comment, I apologize. If you’re a married lesbian hoping to have kids with strong ties to queer politics, I bet you know the kind of emotions that I’m talking about.

        • Wifebian

          sarah – we’re good! my comment wasn’t directed at you so much as a commentary social norms, etc. ~ in metta.

        • Lethe

          I think that is one reason that some of us queer women feel so tentative about having these types of conversations openly – we’re not only contending with our memories of past anti-gay oppression, but also with our memories of past intra-community conflict with other queer people! When I got engaged (to my female partner), I was worried about telling some of my queer friends who had expressed that they think marriage is assimilationist/unworkable/harmful to the cause of queer liberation in some way. Running into a few of those conflicts can leave you feeling very vulnerable when you perceive that your relationship is up for review or critique.

  • Sarah Beth

    I’m not even going near this. I feel the exact opposite about many of these points. Marriage (or any committed, family-forming union, legal or not) is a contract, as unromantic as that sounds. And for my fiance and I, that means I am his and he is mine, and interlopers are not welcome. Monogamy and fidelity are intertwined, even to the point of (dare I even say it?) the “sexual property” perspective. Neither of us gets to start a relationship with someone else, and that includes having sex. Because sex is binding.

    But I can only speak for myself, and echo the sentiments of the person I’m marrying. I know that a lot of people don’t take sex as seriously as I do. I am in no position to judge people’s actions, experiences, or opinions. But, by the same token, I wouldn’t stand for anyone telling me that I’m somehow missing the point by demanding monogamy and fidelity in marriage.

    • meg

      I, for one, am not saying that sex and monogamy are not important. I am saying, however, that over th course of a liftime, mistakes sometimes happen. Which, by the way, was something we were reqired to disscuss in our religious pre-marital counseling.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        monogomy is huge to me. HUGE. i wish i had something bigger than caps lock right now, HUGE.

        but my perception of marriage is slightly off-center. when josh and i got married, we promised one another that we would make each other better people- look out for one another, take care of one another, protect each other, and so on.

        so if josh were to cheat on me- something i would consider infidelity- my hope is that my concern for him and our relationship would (eventually) outweigh my own hurt. and if i’m being honest, i would be hurt ALOT. again, can we get some font-size-changer on this thing? ALOT ALOT. probably therapy-and-vacation-needing-alot, just because of my own past.

        however. once that pain subsided- and hopefully, even through that pain- i’d be in it to win it. by marrying josh i’ve promised to put everything into working at our relationship. and that would include helping him through this issue. which, knowing the emphasis josh places on monogomy himself, it would signify a very large issue in his life if he started sleeping around.

        so i guess what i’m saying is, even with monogomy being central- infidelity still doesn’t need to destroy an important relationship.

        (the only exceptions to this kind of rule, to me, are abuse and rape. the unforgivable marital sins. that’s when i’m OUT. bye bye.)

        • Eliza

          This is exactly how I feel about it. EXACTLY. Thank you for putting this into words. And, interestingly, I didn’t feel like that before I met my fiance. But I do now.

    • SingColleen

      My husband and I feel the same way about our marriage: monogamy and fidelity are intertwined, and non-negotiable. Sex has always been binding for me, even when I wasn’t completely cognizant of that fact, so as I’ve matured I’ve found that what works best for me (and eventually for my husband and I) is complete monogamy. However, I have to disagree that this is a model for every relationship.

      First, in my personal or secondhand experience, having an open relationship is a very difficult arrangement for most couples, but usually these arrangements fail because one or both partners were not being completely honest (with each other or with themselves) about some element of the arrangement. I have personally known only two couples for which an open relationship worked long-term, and I don’t pretend to know their secrets. I know brutal honesty and long-term soul-searching were involved.

      My second point has already been well-articulated in the comments, but suffice to say that I, too, hope and believe that if myself or my husband were to “slip up” on our agreement, our relationship would be strong enough to work through the pain and anger and come out the other side.

      • Sarah Beth

        Well, that’s the point. To me, cheating on your spouse is more than just, “Oh, I just wanted to make out with that chick” or “Oh, I like the way she treats me.” It comes down to the fact that the cheating party felt they needed something they weren’t getting from their partner, and they weren’t honest and up-front about it.
        I watched it happen in my parent’s marriage. Physical infidelity often leads to emotional distance that can ruin a marriage if you aren’t honest and up front with your partner. You said it yourself: many open relationships fail because one or more people aren’t completely honest about the arrangement. Same with monogamous couples.
        I’d like to believe that I wouldn’t let an act of infidelity ruin our relationship, but it would be a long, hard road back to normality, because it would be a sign of much larger problems.

        • Tessak

          I already commented, but I had to comment again! I think what you said about the cheating partner not getting something he/she needs from his/her partner is very true. When you think about it, that really is the root of most cheating. Granted, not all cheating, but most. So the way I see it is, why find that thing you need in someone else when you have a chance to grow with your partner and grow as a person, and demonstrate your love for your partner in the process? It makes things much less complicated and is more gratifying in the long run :)
          But, I wouldn’t necessarily consider cheating in marriage a deal breaker, as long as the perso who cheated is truly sorry and genuinely wants to repair the damage that occurred and talk about their relationship openly. After all, marriage is supposed to be for better or for worse right?

      • meg

        Shah. We’re nottalking about open relationships, that is totally totally something else. We’re talking about facing the reality, right now, that in 20 years someone might screw up. Personally, I think my relationship has been made much stronger (and screw ups have been made less likely) by very openly disscussing what we think about that. And let me tell you this – personally, not willing to throw my relationship away over that. Nuh uh. And yes, I was absolutly helped by committed queer couples around me (and Dan Savage) helping me, personally see that, yeah people screw up on the monogamy thing sometimes, and you don’t have to give that the power to distroy your life.

        I know people freak ou when they see the words non- monogamy in the same paragraph as marriage, but don’t jump to talking about open relationships, affairs, or sleeping around. You might be talking about that. I’m not. And each of those things is very different. What I’m disscussing is mistakes. And don’t kid yourself. Mistakes happen with smart, kind, good people sometimes.

        • KENDALL

          Monogamy is also a HUGE deal to me, completely intertwined with marriage and fidelity. I consider cheating to be an awful, hurtful *choice*, not just a mistake, and I would have an extremely difficult time forgiving my fiance if he ever made that choice. I wrestle with this, knowing that it may come up and I would find it next to impossible not to “give it the power to destroy my life”. Yikes. Fortunately my fiance and I have been able to talk about this fear and get it out in the open. While we can’t predict the future, at least we know we’re starting on a solid base, with shared values and clear communication. (Huge extra credit points to Meg for her early post on pre-marital counseling!)

        • Eliza

          “Giving it the power to destroy your life” – yes, I refuse to give mistakes that power, but/and this extends to LOTS of different kinds of mistakes. It’s easy to feel like or believe that non-monogamy/cheating/etc is the big mistake, in relationships. It is one, but it is not the only one. There are plenty of huge mistakes that can be made, that you can give the power to destroy your relationship (or not). Sexy feelings and actions regarding people outside your relationship is just one of them. Honestly, I feel like there are bigger ones – like emotional abuse – that don’t get the airplay they deserve as dealbreakers. (Sorry, total tangent! But yes. Just my thought.)

          • meg

            EXACTLY. I think it’s interesting that we’ve sort of collectively decided that sleeping with someone else is the central mistake you can make in a marriage. I guess part of my point is, while I think it’s a mistake, I think there are lots of other things that are just as bad that we take less seriously.

            I mean, look. If I had to pick between my husband sleeping with someone drunk, once, or him developing a gambling problem and blowing through our life savings before I figured it out? Well, he better use protection isallimsaying.

          • Sarah Beth

            I’m glad you said it. I didn’t mean to sound so fixated on the sex part. It is certainly true that “marital infidelity” could have nothing to do with sex. It could mean one partner has given up on your dreams (meaning both of you) or has stopped supporting you in your goals, or has given up on the work and growth that come with a good marriage. Infidelity could mean a lot of things.

          • Amandover

            I just want to thank Meg and Desaray, because, as I mentioned in a previous comment, my fiance has been a bit alarmed by my forgiving attitude toward adultery… but as a direct result of this post, we finally talked the whole thing out last night! I was so relieved when we talked through the hypotheticals, considered the other’s ideas, and came to an agreement about the healthiest course of action for our future. For me, it comes down to not giving sex any more “ruining power” than shutting your partner out emotionally, or similar. And we discovered that I’m just a little more optimistic that those hurts can be healed if people want to stay together. Now we understand each other’s fears, and know that we both see communication as absolutely vital. And that makes us better partners. Thank. God.

        • Laura

          Thank you for this, Meg. Just thank you.
          (I’ve been reading for months, just donated during the awesome, hilarious “fund drive”, and have considered commenting several times, but this was the one that pushed me over the edge – by which I mean, spoke so plainly, so sanely to something that really touches me, I really needed to say thanks.) Go APW!

  • Violet

    First, thank you, Desaray, for being so honest about your experiences. I also found your blogs through APW and I appreciate your candor and humor about the serious stuff. I also had intense relationships with men although I consider myself queer and have only been with women since I was 21. I am currently preparing to be a wife to the most remarkable person I know: an androgenous woman with her own trans days and gender considerations. Our relationship is organically monagmous and we intend it to stay that way, much to the surprise and dismissal of some of our community. It’s been interesting to see and feel the responses of our friends and family and community in our liberal bubble of a city to our decision to get married. My Republican aunt is thrilled and called to talk about our vintage theme. One of my lesbian friends demanded to know why I want to fit into the hetero mold.
    I am getting married and publicly (well to 54 people) declaring my unconditional love and support to the love of my life. Simple.
    One last thing. I agree that queers see things in a sexier light. In the hetero world, our sex is already perverse so we may as well go for it! Off to change that lightbulb now.

    • Violet

      Oh, also Thank You to Meg for continuing the great discussions on APW!

  • http://daniellebrazil.blogspot.com Danielle

    I didn’t necessarily agree with everything, but her perspective was interesting, and it was really well written!

  • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

    I love this post (and I’m straight and fairly vanilla).

    I just have to say though, while I am not gay, I have gay friends (I don’t mean this to be all “Many of my best friends are gay!” in that George-invites-his-exterminator-out-to-dinner way) and I disagree with the idea that there is no such thing as a “failed” relationship in the gay community. I think you can find plenty of same-sex-exes who would say unequivocally that their relationship failed (I can point to personal anecdotes from people I know on this, but in the interest of not publishing other peoples’ stories on here, even without identifying markers, I won’t. I’ll just say that I do indeed know gay people who have called a relationship a “failure”, a “disaster”…you name it.)

    • Carbon Girl

      I think relationships can fail in a sense that they can leave two people miserable–either while they are in them or when it ends, but that sadness generally goes away with time. BUT every relationship is a learning experience and often times the “failed” relationship is where a lot of the learning took place so in that sense, because people learned and hopefully grew from the experience, the relationship cannot be a failure. Each relationship shapes and imprints our soul, in some way changing who we are. We are in part shaped by our relationships. Looking back on past relationships, some that I would have called failures at the time, I can now appreciate parts and actually treasure each one in some small way seeing how they led me to be who I am.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        but relationships can be so damaging.

        no- i don’t think every relationship that doesn’t make it to a 50th anniversary is a failure. when i was 17, i was in relationships for very different reasons than i was at 24. not all of them were in the pursuit of an end goal of marriage. though those relationships often ended in a few weeks, sometimes months, they served their purpose. when i was 17, sometimes that purpose was make-out-buddy or prom-date or person-to-bring-to-the-movies.

        but, yes. there are one or two that i can look back and call “disasters.” because of the kind of person i became in that relationship, the negative impacts it had on my self-perceptions (some very lasting), the way it impacted those around me.

        i agree that i can now, having come “full circle” in a sense (living with and being married to someone who puts those others to shame) look back and see that there are things that i learned about myself and relationships and love and lust and geez, you name it, from those relationships. i value those lessons- josh and i often talk about our past relationships, and all of the ways they have shaped us to be better for one another. but i would still call them failures.

        perhaps it’s semantics.

      • http://laorencha.blogspot.com channamasala

        Well, yes.

        But what I mean is more…in Desaray’s article, she specifically said: “Even if it ended. There is no such thing as a “failed” relationship, like the way heterosexuals talk about “failed” marriages.”

        My point is that I find this untrue: those I know in the LGBT community would most certainly use words like “failed” when describing a relationship that ended painfully/badly/damagingly.

        So if they’d say something like that, then clearly there IS the concept of a “failed” relationship among gay couples.

        Whether or not anyone should think of any relationship is failed is a different discussion, and I happen to agree with you that no relationship can be said to have failed *completely*, if only because the survivors (yes, sometimes the end of a relationship can feel like you just barely made it through the sinking of the Titanic) learned something or grew in some way as a result.

    • ddayporter

      I would love to hear more on this idea, of no such thing as “failed” relationships, from Desaray or anyone else with a similar perspective. What Carbon Girl describes seems like a state of mind anyone could have if they worked at it, straight or not. does a queer person naturally value all relationships that way, and a straight person can but doesn’t do it automatically? I was much more immersed in the gay community as a teenager, it’s been too long since I had a conversation like this outside of a hetero context, so I don’t know. sure would be nice if we could all value our relationships in that way!

      anyway thanks Desaray for sharing your thoughts! is anyone else kind of high on the fact that we could have a post like this so soon after a post about pre-marital abstinence, on the same blog?? with minimal sniping?? <3 <3 APW <3 <3

      • Liz A

        I need to weigh in here on the “failed relationship” concept. I’m straight, although I believe there’s no real one or the other as far as sexuality is concerned and that it’s more a sliding scale of gray, but that’s a whole other can of worms.

        I don’t believe that queer folks have the market cornered on valuing every relationship. I have to admit I bristle at the notion. I’ve never looked at past relationships as Failed. Before meeting my fiance, I had 2 LTRs and 2 other very significant men in my life (and a whole bunch of less significant bodily fluid swapping partners). Marriage and a lifetime commitment were never the end goals in these relationships.

        I remember a friend being shocked when I told her I had no intention of marrying Ex no. 2. She wanted to know what I was doing wasting my time. I told her that I didn’t consider it a waste at all, that every relationship gives you something of value, something to learn and grow from. And when we broke up, after 2 years, there were tears, yelling, guilt, the whole lot of it. But I never felt like a failure.

        I feel like I know myself better, that I am more in tune with who I am, not only as a partner to my fiance, but as an individual because of these men. So no, not the very much less than perfect college boyfriend who taught me that a relationship without communication is like trying to paint with your eyes closed; not the man who made me the other woman but also taught me what good sex was; not the one who broke my heart but taught me that I could feel fiercely that I wanted to belong to someone; and not the ex who taught me what is worth fighting for and that sometimes you have to throw in the towel–none of these were failures. Not one. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. How could that be seen as a failure?

        • Amandover

          Just wanted to say – I love your list of exes you learned from. Your words really help illustrate the point that every relationship was valuable. I feel like we often talk about exes as mistakes, or Dark Ages in our lives, when they just didn’t end happily. Most of them help us grow as people, or we wouldn’t like them so much in the first place!

        • http://www.moodeous.com Kristy

          Liz are you me? Ditto. Exactly. Yes. Totally. Me too!

          aaaand while I’m commenting

          Desaray, thank you for providing yet another insightful, unique topic for APW discussion and to everyone for their honest, level headed discourse. It’s possible I’ve learned more about my own nature here in this virtual round table, than most other aspects of my life.

      • Cat

        I don’t think queers naturally value every relationship, and I definitely don’t think it’s something the straight people don’t also feel. It’s just about the frame you look at relationships through.

        My take on this is that there is less emphasis in the queer community on ‘the one’. Generalization for the sake of keeping it short, but there is a bit of a ‘I really thought he was the one/never going to find Mr Right’ among some of my straight girl friends when their relationships end that I haven’t heard from my queer friends (or felt myself). I’m definitely not saying it’s the goal of all straight women everywhere, but in my experience, when you do away with the idea that there is only one person for you and the ultimate goal is one marriage to one person forever, it doesn’t feel like you’ve failed at achieving it when the relationship ends – though of course there is still grief and loss and anger.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

          i’d like to blame disney for “The One” mythology. eff that ish.

          • Cat

            And Cosmo. I was flicking through a friends stack of magazines and there must have been a dozen ‘Finding Mr Right!!!!’ cover stories. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a recipe for disaster…

          • meg

            Just wait till Disney princess start looking for other princess to start their lives with…

        • Liz A

          I can pick up what you’re putting down there. Good grief, Mr. Right.

          I love the way my mom, who got married at 31, back when that was considered “old” described her experiences before meeting my dad. ‘You’ve got to try all the flavors of ice cream before you figure out your favorite.’ I think the concept of “favorite” is so much more appropriate than “The One.” It just seems more flexible and less heavy. And who doesn’t like ice cream metaphors?

          • Tina

            Ha ha. I tried to use an ice cream metaphor to describe the exact opposite. The boy and I had a conversation about the choice to wait to have sex until after marriage that was prompted by the last sex and marriage post. I was playing devil’s advocate and he wasn’t buying. I said, “You can know chocolate is good and enjoy it without ever having to have any other flavor.” I don’t think it was a good metaphor, but I tried. Nonetheless, ice cream is just good. Plain and simple.

        • ddayporter

          Cat, thanks for that, I think that’s the clarification I was looking for. Not sure if it’s what Desaray meant or not but it makes sense! I can get behind that idea. ..and yeah, eff disney!!

  • ellen

    Yay to all of these bi women speaking up! (Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus.) There are many of the same challenges coming out as bi in a seemingly straight relationship as there are coming out as gay. Thanks for this post, it was one of the most thoughtful posts I’ve seen in a long, long time.

  • peanut

    I commented earlier, but wanted to ask again in more depth about the concept of non-monogamous marriage: is this something that is pre-determined in the marriage, as in you both actively seek sexual relationships with others? Or is it more, OK we are going to try our hardest to be monogamous, but if a mistake happens then it’s not a deal breaker? I am curious because honestly I cannot imagine a sustainable marriage functioning under the first scenario…

    • ANDREA

      It’s any of those things, I think. It could be a “when we’re apart for a long time, we can see other people on the side so the long distance doesn’t destroy our relationship” arrangement, or a “We have threesomes sometimes because it adds to our fun while still enforcing our love for each other” arrangement. Or it could something more quote-unquote “tame”, like an “its okay to watch porn without me or go to strip clubs” arrangement or even just a “I don’t mind if you masturbate while thinking of various fantasies” arrangement. I think the point is just that the people in the relationship can decide what their goals/expectations are re: monogamy, not anybody else.

    • Michele

      I agree. I’d love to see a post from a person (or couple) who has an “open marriage” or some other arrangement that somehow makes room for non-monogamy, and how that dynamic plays out on a day-to-day basis, as well as in the big-picture.

      I’ll admit that my personal and cultural biases are clouding my vision and narrowing my mind on this matter.

      So please, someone school me. How does it work (for you)?

      I’m actually having an internal argument at this very moment, trying to determine what would be a “harder”/”easier” situation: One instance of sexual infidelity within a couple that expects monogamy, or multiple, sustained incidences of non-monogamy within a couple that does not. Personally, I think I’m much better equipped to deal with one instance of infidelity even though I expect my partner to remain monogamous, than I am to deal with any kind of “open marriage” type of arrangement that allows for actual physical contact with other actual people. (Masturbation, porn watching/reading, etc. are fine by me).

      • Suzanna

        My two cents on non-monogamy: I have dabbled in non-monogamy, and have lived in communities where it was the norm. I know ONE non-monogamous couple that is still together from those days. It’s been their arrangement from day one, so they never had any other expectations. It’s taken them YEARS to figure out how to work out a system of rules that work for them. But they are happily married, 11 years now.

        Know what I learned? It takes a lot of freaking time to maintain those relationships. It’s a lot of processing, as they say. Do I want to sleep with everyone I feel like sleeping with? Hell yes, sometimes. Do I want to devote the time and energy it takes to keep everyone in those situations happy and sane? Hells no. Not anymore, I’ve got more interesting things to do now. Learning how to be happily monogamous is a different kind of work, but I personally find it much more satisfying, deep down. Again, that’s just my two cents.

        So here here to a post on open marriages!

        • Englyn

          Thirded.

  • Christina

    This is why I don’t identify as bi-sexual anymore (Now, if I must use a label I say pan-sexual). This division between what straight couples and gay couples are like, or their styles of whatever, really irks me. What about gender-less couples? I love this site and I’m sorry my first comment is a negetaive one, but I got really excited to finally see a bisexual perspective, and I was disappointed. I have dated all along the gender spectrum, and I couldn’t tell you a single trend or stereotype that ended up being true. Then again, everyone has different experiences. My bi-sexual (or pan-sexual) perspective is totally different, and I just feel a little defensive I guess.

    • Christina

      Just as an example, she says: “And what I’ve found is that queer people are really great at sex and heterosexual people are really great at relationships.” Are we really still here? I can’t say I agree, and I’d go as far as to say it’s not really fair. But as Meg said, this is her experience. I would just like to add that as a bi-sexual/pan-sexual, this quote isn’t really my experience.

    • stars

      I totally agree. Every single relationship is different. I suppose she was just speaking to what she knows, but this post irked me with it’s generalisations for sure.

    • meg

      Sigh. Humor always gets me in trouble on APW too. I thought I’d let Desaray dive into the pit on this one.

      But, humor aside, you know, you could write a post about pan-sexual relationships. I get frustrated when a post isn’t what someone wants, or what they would have written, and then annoys them. I mean, you didn’t write it, she did. So maybe YOU need to write something then, eh?

      • Christina

        Really, I have to understand that as a non-monogamous pan-sexual I’m never really going to relate to a post and that’s kind of the point of the label. Everyone’s got their own deal goin’ on. I try not to take myself too seriously but I may have there :) I’m definitely going to write a graduate post because WOW this whole engagement thing has made me really have to look at these labels and standards and what people think/expect. (PS, even though I disagree with the post, I really love that there is a site that has a post like this at all.)

        • meg

          Well, I donno that this post was about a *label.* I loved it from a very un-label-y perspective.

      • stars

        See, I didn’t read this as being a humour piece despite the disclaimer. I, and probably some others, haven’t the context of having read her blog or had email conversations with her so reading it ‘cold’ like that the generalisations are a bit offputting. Yes, some of it read’s funny straight up (for me, mostly the last paragraph) but a the stuff under the subtitles half-way in read fairly black and white so it’s not surprising that some people are a bit iffy about the post.

        But really, overall this is a really interesting site so I will, as a newbie, stick around! :)

  • Sara

    Oh, man. Oh man oh man oh man. I have read some amazing things on this site, but this is undoubtedly the Very Best One.

  • kyley

    Can we have a whole separate post on open marriages?? Maybe we could also have a post on monogamy??

    I think the pair would be fantastic to read!

    • Christina

      I think a post on open marriages is a fantastic idea!! My fiance and I have had an open relationship, and people that know about our non-monagamy can’t for the life of them understand why we would get married. It’s brought up a lot of issues for other people involved in our lives, and not to mention has created an environment where my fiance and I have had to come up with a definition of what marriage is to US. Since monagamy and “committing yourself to one person” is often the biggest part of a definition of marriage, and we don’t have this, we have to tell people other reasons of why we would want to be married. It’s given me a whole new understanding of why I’m in love with this person! Ok – yes, I would love to read an open marriage post.

      • AM

        Christina, I think you just accidentally volunteered yourself to write that post. : ) I, for one, would love to read it.

    • Tessak

      I for one would like to see both sides of that issue :) great idea!

      • Casey

        I am a bisexual woman marrying a lesbian woman, and we have a not-strictly-monogamous relationship as well. I think there are many people who hear “open” or “non-monogamous” and think it means “anything goes”. That is certainly true in some cases, but I would venture to guess that it is rarely the case. There are almost always rules between the couple about what is and is not okay. For us, we sometimes fool around with other women (mostly other lesbian couples) together. This way, we both get to have fun having sex with other people, but we don’t have to worry that something is going on behind our backs. I get to see everything she is doing and if I’m not okay with it, I get to tell her to stop (and vice versa). And actually, I have started to think it is pretty sexy to watch her doing it! =) We get to have fun flirting with other couples together. I get to experience that rush of having a crush and having someone else be into you, and I get to talk about it with my fiancee! We get to craft flirty text messages together to send to other people and be excited when they text back. I’m SO glad she and I have discovered this together. It’s a ball and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

        • Michele

          Somewhere, some 19 year old guy’s head just exploded. ;)

        • Christina

          Saying “exactly” to this wasn’t enough. I have had the same experience! There are rules, it’s not a total free for all. And I wish there was more of a community for people that have relationships like this. The more visibility we have, the better for those who want monogamy as well as for those who don’t. There are a lot of people in the world that monogamy just doesn’t work for, but they (may) feel forced into this societal norm and end up cheating and doing things to hurt their partners because they don’t know that there is another way to be. I feel very strongly on this point. Monogamy is great for some, and they deserve to find those who feel the same. The more accepted it is to have open marriages, the more free people will feel to admit that non-manogamous but committed relationships might be something they want. I got really lucky finding someone that wants the same level of monogamy I do!

          • Sue

            Oh my gosh, I 4th the motion for a post on open relationships!!!! And monogamous ones too!

            Christina?! May I fist bump you interwebs style please?

          • Class of 1980

            Christina, I think this whole world would be a happier place if only more people could figure out what they need.

            I am strictly monogamous and an open relationship would make me one miserable human being. I’d be perpetually sad. I can’t say I even understand the need to be non-monogamous – doesn’t seem to be in my DNA. The only times I have been tempted to look outside a relationship have been when it was truly failing.

            But if a monogamous relationship doesn’t work for someone, then boxing them in is only inviting disaster down the road. It’s not in anyone’s best interests to be inauthentic to themselves. Eventually, they will do something about it and it may be painful for everyone.

            We have to get in touch with our own true needs before coming together in any relationship.

        • Donna

          My husband is fine with me being bisexual and I have had the same lady friend for several years. I am prohibited from having other men but thats fine because my husband is the only man I have ever been interested in. My husband really likes her and has sex with her on occasion when he joins us. She does not live with us but sometimes stays the night with me in a spare bedroom. This arrangement has worked well for all of us and we have always got along great with each other. My husband has said that he is very lucky to have two beautiful women that love him and he loves us very much. When he makes love to her, I feel like he is loving me,it is wonderful. Men hit on her almost daily but thankfuly for us, she is commited to our threeway relationship. I have never met a more wonderful woman!

  • Suzanna

    Thanks again, APW! Was it just last week that we had the bride who waited until marriage to have sex? And now we’ve got a bisexual woman married to a woman, talking about non-monogamy? AMEN! I love them all. They’re all fabulous people. Know why? They’re thoughtful. They’re not just doing what they want or being self-indulgent, and neither are they bending to what’s expected of them. They’re not simply rebellious, or simply conformists. They’re doing what’s right for them (and their loved ones), on many levels. It’s a wonderful thing to watch unfold, even in a stranger’s life. Always a pleasure.

  • Anicka

    I love this post and the discussions in the comments. Another one of those that inspire me to think on one hand, and somehow fill me with joy on the other.

  • Tessak

    I think the “sex as an art” comment is so right on. Everyone, whether straight or gay, should consider this idea, it broadens your relationships so much! I am straight, but I have often felt like straight women are traditionally very restricted regarding sex. Either they are sluts who are way too “wild” or they are the “gatekeeper” who only allows the man to have sex when she feels like it, and that is not too often. I was frustrated with sexual expectations for a long time in my life, and have even suffered from vaginismus because of it.
    Seriously, just have fun with sex. Talk about it. Try new things. Enjoy it. Don’t worry about whether it’s “too wild” or not, just worry about whether you are comfortable with it or enjoy doing it. It makes it so much more fun and really brings you closer to your partner. My man and I make a point to talk about our sex life often and experiment with each other, and it has only brought us closer and made us really appreciate what we have with each other.
    Regarding monogamy and fidelity: I, like Sarabeth, am of the opinion that monogamy and fidelity go hand in hand. I just can’t imagine working so hard on a relationship with one person only to invite others to share in something so intimate as our sex life. And yes, you can have an extremely satisfying and adventurous sex life without involving outside parties! Me and my man certainly do, and often ;) All joking aside though, while sex is fun, it is also a very intimate and special thing that I would never dream of sharing with someone that I wasn’t committed to. Of course, everyone differs in their opinion on this subject, and if it works for you then that is wonderful! My man and I have talked about it though, and we simply could never do that without being uncomfortable and feeling like our relationship is compromised.

  • Erica

    I’ve been a lurker here lately. I think mostly because I’m at the point in my life when ALL my friends are starting to get married. And because I’m joyously moving in with my boyfriend at the end of the month. And I think we’re building to that place where we think about spending the rest of our lives together. And getting that we have the same ideas about life and what we want. It’s exciting. And we certainly love each other…which brings me to my actual comment about the post:

    I simply adored the Marriage is not a feeling section. It’s an important distinction between love and marriage and that there is so much more than love that fuels and sustains the kind of commitment that comes with being married.

    I also happen to be bi, though in a hetero relationship. My experiences are different regarding what I’ve learned in different types of relationships, but it’s lovely to see different voices coming together on the site.

  • Noelle

    This is probably off the beaten path a bit, so I apologize in advance. However, I have experienced a 20 year marriage which ended in infidelity. The shock, hurt, and life altering event was definitely brought on by prior issues in the marriage and it was the final nail in the coffin. Happily, once I got through all that comes with an infidelity (loss of friends, loss of additional income, loss of home) I managed to get back on my feet and meet the most amazing man(and am getting married in September!). The life lessons I learned though the end of my first marriage has made the relationship with my now fiance invaluable. While I have heard of some couples getting through an infidelity, they are rare…far and few between. Having someone cheat on you, when you don’t both agree to an open relationship is extemely difficult to overcome. The trust is broken. I would think this would apply to both straight and gay couples. Not to say some people can just deal with it and move on!
    I’d be very interested in a post from a couple who is in an open marriage. While it’s not for me, I love being informed!

    • meg

      I am generalizing for the sake of brevity here, but I think in many queer relationships, the idea of monogamy is a little more fluid, and what falls under the rubric of “cheating” is definitly different. Cheating is a broad term, so personally, at, this point in my life, I like more specific terms… Because some things are devistating for me, others, less so.

      • stars

        I don’t think generalising about making a comment about queer people and monogamy is helpful, even if you were just trying to be to the point.I think the definition of cheating is different in every relationship whether they’re gay, queer, straight, pansexual etc. You’ve expressed the assumption that queer people have different ‘rules’ to hetero couples when every relationship has it’s own particular quirks. I know you’re not using it as such, but this assumption is used as ammunition against queer people, especially around marriage equality.

      • http://beckybopwrites.blogspot.com/ Becky

        Hm, I think that’s kind of a big generalization to make. I think lots of straight couples would define “cheating” and “monogamy” differently from other straight couples.There’s just as much diversity within LGBT communities on how those terms are defined. The straight world may have more pre-defined rules and societal expectations, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t just as much diversity in following or ignoring those rules. Similarly, I think many people would be surprised by how many queer couples are relatively “traditional” or “old-fashioned” in their definitions of these terms.

        • meg

          First of all, I seriously DOUBT that anyone on this blog would be surprised by how many queer couples are in traditional relationships. I mean, come on. We talk about traditional gay relationships and traditional straight relationships through the context of weddings everday.

          Second, you said it, “straight world may have more pre-defined rules and societal expectations.” Cheating is one of them. That doesn’t mean there isn’t huge variety in how people do things (I grew up around a huge amount of open and polyamorous relationships, thank you very much) but, in my experience, MANY of the LGBTQ people in my life have SCHOOLED me about the nuances of cheating, or how, hello Meg, maybe cheating shouldn’t mean everything rolled into one. And it has made me a infinitely smarter wiser person. Obviously every couple is different. But it robs us of the richness of human experience when we act like, “Oh gay people can’t teach me anything.” Because, well, the gay community has taught me a lot.

  • Moz

    Deseray, thank you for your fantastic and generous post xx

  • http://projectsubrosa.blogspot.com Cate Subrosa

    Desaray, brilliant, well-written, very funny post. I loved the extended lock metaphor, hilarious!

    Best of luck to you and your wife on growing your family.

  • Emi

    Thanks, and I loved this post–it, and all the comments, gave me lots to think about, especially the point about there being no such thing as a failed relationship. I know that plenty of people with tons more relationship experience than me would disagree with this, for legit reasons of their own. However, for me it seems like an incredibly optimistic and generous way to look at relationships and at life–like viewing life and love as a continuous work in progress rather than a dash towards a pre-defined goal.

    I think of myself as being pretty open-minded, but the idea of polyamory and open relationships has always made me uncomfortable (for my own life, not in other people’s lives). It’s great to be able to examine my own assumptions about relationships and examine the reasons for my discomfort. I don’t think it’s necessarily for me, but I love hearing from other perspectives.

    • Emi

      “However, for me it seems like an incredibly optimistic and generous way to look at relationships and at life–like viewing life and love as a continuous work in progress rather than a dash towards a pre-defined goal.”

      Sorry, I just realized that comment makes it sound like I think people who strongly value monogamous marriages see marriage as an endpoint for growth. Quite the opposite–I guess what I meant that *I* find it valuable to look at all of the positive points in a relationship, even if it ended, and even if it ended badly. After all, if most of us take an inventory of all our relationships we’ve ever had and judge them only by the fact that they ended, then most of us (myself included) would be *huge* failures at love, and I don’t think that’s the case at all.

  • Calumnia

    Deseray says she’s found that “queer people are really great at sex and heterosexual people are really great at relationships.” This is all very nice and simple, but in only applies to the three long term relationships that Desaray was in. No one reading this should take any of the assumptions or stereotypes as fact. You can’t do a three person qualitative study and apply it to the entire population.

    I’m sorry to hear that her straight partners were not very good at sex and her queer partners were not very good at relationships, but these are only a few examples. Sexuality is too darn fluid to make these kind of statements. What about queer people who identify as trans and have straight relationships? What about bisexual women who only fuck (not date) men?

  • Lydia

    I’ve been looking around this site for the past week or so and I must say that I have been very impressed! This seems to be a very open, friendly and generous group of people with a lot of very wise words to share. Thanks for that.
    I just wanted to add my two cents, though the ground is pretty well covered already. I think this is a great post, and all the comments have been very thought-provoking as well. The main thing that I sort of recoil from, if you will, is the idea that any one couple (or threesome or more!) can affect the legitimacy or quality of someone else’s relationship just by having their own the way that they want to. In that same vein, I have been reading a lot of stuff out in the shadowy ether of the intarwebs, about how “assimilationist” gays and lesbians are just *ruining everything* for all the queers. Now, see, I think that attitude is pretty awful. A lot of the arguments against gay marriage posit that allowing homosexual marriage would somehow degrade or otherwise negatively impact “traditional” marriage. Hm, I see some similar thought processes there.
    It bothers me that people seems to think they must be either FOR or AGAINST things. What about just “live and let live”? It seems to be working pretty well here =)

    • Lydia

      Sorry, *seem. Typos always bother me.

  • d

    Desaray, you are one funny lady!

  • PhDandacupofcoffee

    OK, I’m going to say it:

    The metaphor about the Galapagos Islands was actually a good one, but the definition was completely wrong.

    Really, the metaphor was a lot more apt than you realize.

  • polito

    After reading your articles i realized since having to be bisexual means loving both sex’s and you lover is also bisexual why not have a marriage that offers that get married with three others which wants to have a full bisexual wedding thats has two males and two females that way you you wont be leaving the other half of your sexuality behind. Having a full bisexual wedding has its advantages if you think about it clearly once one of the two females has a baby you could have either
    A. having one parent of the four stay home while the others work and switch days of which whom the baby is taken care of or B. have two of the four parents and stay with the baby or babies giving a better security over the baby while still earning money for the childs future. Dont know if possible to have a full bisexual wedding but its a personal dream since i am in high school im only in a two person
    realationship having my partner agree was possible but getting two more to join our beliefs is a little hard since getting someone to love both you and your partner and getting a fourth is all but a project of bisexual love blooming to a new future.
    add me on facebook if you share the same beliefs polito herrera

  • T

    I don’t understand the idea of losing half of your sexual identity by marrying a man or a woman? No matter who you marry, you are making a commitment to your partner and entering into a monogomous relationship. I don’t think that means leaving your sexuality behind, it only means that you have made a choice to be with a specific person. Sexuality should be a non-issue at that point, as you have already made up your mind. Worrying about what people think about your sexuality after you get married is like worrying that people will think you are racist if you marry somone of the same race….isn’t it? On another note if anyone wanted to have sex with another person why would they get married in the first place? I truly am confused about this concept and it would be really helpful to hear back about it.
    Thanks!

  • Very Much The Truth

    No wonder why us straight guys are having such a very hard time meeting a decent normal woman today, and it is not our fault at all. very sad.

  • Estraven

    I suspect you mean well, but to recommend Dan Savage to a bisexual audience is like recommending, well, Dan Savage to a transgender audience, or a POC audience, or anyone who isn’t a gay-thin cisgendered gay male. The bi community, led by Ron Suresha, have been talking to him like a human being at various events, and he is a bit better now, but HE IS NOT THE EXPERT on us. No monosexual is. As the saying goes. “Nothing about us without us.” Please see:

    http://projectqueer.tumblr.com/post/12359107400/ask-whats-the-story-about-dan-savage-i-made-this