Holy moly there are already really hateful things being said at/to/about my post on polyamory and queerness. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and had some more thoughts on this that I planned to add to my original post before the queue put it up, but my day at work got busy and I never got around to it. Maybe that would have helped clear things up; maybe it would have just given people more to yell at me about. It’ll just live in my iPhone notes because I am sad and exhausted and not interested in expanding on my points anymore.
A lot of people have taken the perspective that I, as a straight cis woman who dates men, don’t get to have any say on the matter. But I run a blog where the explicit point is people ask me for my thoughts on their questions, and I do my best to answer them. And someone asked me. So I shared my thoughts. I tried to be really clear that this is my understanding, my conception, my experience, and that I am not trying to argue that my perspective is the truth. Making someone feel afraid or threatened for sharing their personal thoughts and experiences about their own identity after they were asked is pretty gross.
I am getting lots of messages, reblogs, and replies that I will not respond to because I don’t want to engage in an argument, because as I see it, arguments are for when you think you’re right. I would die on the hill of “consent is never optional” and “cheating is not polyamory,” but whether polyamory counts as queer is not something I believe I should have the final say on, so I don’t believe my perspective needs to be defended. Also, a lot of people are making the same arguments I discussed in my original post: that I don’t risk being murdered for being poly, that being straight and cis means nothing about your identity or relationships can be considered queered, etc. My post basically said “here’s how I feel, many people disagree for these reasons,” and lots of people said “yep, I disagree for those reasons,” so that loop is closed as far as I’m concerned.
Some more thoughts under the cut. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled “Zinnia answers questions that she doesn’t feel will trigger alienating hate mail” programming tomorrow. And if you send or sent me a question about a potentially inflammatory topic and I never answer it, please know that it’s because I just didn’t have the emotional resources to put myself out there to answer your question. I apologize.
I got a comment that just brings up for me why the discourse around queerness can feel so impossible sometimes:
Someone called me out by saying “ALSO it is so incredibly shitty of you to bring up the nonbinary person’s assigned gender. Not necessary, at all.” And I just feel really frustrated by that. Because what I said was “A person at my college who was visibly nonbinary and - I genuinely don’t know how to say this in the way they would prefer, but I will try - dated people who mainly identified as the same gender that this person was assigned at birth.”
I never said what gender that person was assigned. I never misgendered them. But the fact that this person’s relationships would primarily be read as “same-sex” by random, uneducated onlookers was relevant to my discussion, so it did seem necessary. I was trying to explain that this person’s individual gender identity and sexual orientation are both some flavor of “queer.” I don’t know if this person would be okay with any term like “gay” or “lesbian” or “homosexual” etc. so I didn’t use a term. I really don’t know how else to say that! I honestly don’t want to create more hurt or alienation with my blog, and I try to write with full inclusion and respect, but I am racking my brain to try and come up with a way this could have been discussed in relation to my point without being “incredibly shitty.”
To all those on tumblr: please remember that we are all doing our best. Please give yourselves and each other a break. Please know that we are all trying to make it in a world dominated by sexist, oppressive, alienating forces. Some people have privileges you don’t. Some people suffer things that you don’t. We can use that to contribute to patterns of alienation or we can try and find healthier ways to live in community with people who are different from us. Our choice.
To all those who unfollowed me because they don’t like how I framed my answer: that’s totally okay. You have a right not to see opinions that bother you on your tumblr dashboard. The nasty messages letting me know that you were unfollowing were not necessary. If you wanted an argument, you will not get one with me. But the concept and definition of “queer” is a major point of discourse today so there are plenty of other places, in and out of academia, to make your stand.
To the person who sent me the original question: I understand that this is the kind of thing that feels confusing and frustrating for poly people, and it’s fine that you reached out to me for some more thoughts. Ultimately, your identity is your own path to make, and if a person or community makes you feel unwelcome or alienated, you aren’t obligated to agree with them or stick around.