demographics

On Demographics, Part 2: Facilitating Polyamory

For several years, I was involved with two men simultaneously. Both relationships ultimately ended, amicably and for reasons unrelated to non-monogamy, but I have a hard time imagining an encore of that situation any time in the near future.

When I read Vivienne Chen’s post, “Polyamory is for White, Pretty People,” I found myself nodding in agreement and relating to my own experiences. When I was living with Rose and Azal, I could sustain both relationships because I was in college: I had the time and a flexible schedule to nourish both relationships, especially at the start when they needed it most. Maintaining a relationship presents unique challenges, but requires less of a time investment than building one.

Our location helped the situation, too. Boston still has some of its puritanical roots firmly intact, but it’s become something of a sexual liberation mecca. My relationships were rarely questioned, and I was free to come out about our non-monogamy socially and professionally. My career was never jeopardized, and I didn’t have children or custody cases to worry about. My social circles are largely secular, and I was not at risk of losing a community I depended on.

In other words, if I were half of a young couple with kids in the Bible Belt, things would be different.

Now I’m getting a small taste of that firsthand. I’m theoretically open to another serious relationship, but working full-time makes serious dating a lot less feasible. I’ve got the Opera Singer on the side, but it works well precisely because he’s busy and we keep things casual. I have a hard enough time making sure I see Allyn enough when we live together, let alone trying to balance our relationship with another that requires a similar time commitment. I could do it, but the rest of my social life would go out the window—not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

So is polyamory just for white, pretty people? In a word, yes, although I might swap out the adjective “pretty” for “wealthy.” Though it’s not a lifestyle in and of itself, a certain lifestyle (namely, one with considerable free time) facilitates success.

On Demographics

Allyn and I had a blast in New York this weekend, spending time with friends and seeing Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot. The show sparked an invigorating conversation about the continued value of live theater and dance, and left me with a storm of thoughts about theater, accessibility, and appealing to a younger generation raised on explosions and CGI absorbed passively from behind a television, separated by a degree of sterilization and impersonalization.

Food for thought, though not what this blog is about and not something I’ll dwell on here.

February is a big month for us, between the NYC trip this weekend, flying out to DC for Winter Fire next weekend, and our roommate’s birthday later in the month. We’re appreciating the opportunity to really spend time together, where the question of what we should do for dinner is more exciting than dreaded and our hedonistic flag can fly at full-mast (…get it? It’s totally a dick joke).

Still, I am undeniably an introvert at my core. For every night of debauchery, I need at least three of video games, reading, and silence. I’m not heavily involved in our local scene mostly because it’s just outright exhausting. There seems to be an expectation that being kinky means being a part of the scene, but I haven’t got the stomach for it.

When we consider the demographics of kinky people, we take a look at the scene and generalize from there. But how many more of us out there who keep our fun to ourselves?

“There are so few dominant women.” “Kink and non-monogamy go hand-in-hand.” “Kink events are so white.” “Lesbians aren’t kinky.”

Why do we assume that these are facts, rather than a reflection of a small subset of the kinky population? Why do we argue that there “aren’t many dominant women” rather than acknowledging that we live in a culture that actively discourages dominance and assertiveness among women, and that the scene isn’t exactly welcoming for them?

Why don’t we factor in the exorbitant costs of participating publicly when taking our demographics into account? Even if attending weekend-long retreat events didn’t cost hundreds, it still involves taking the time off work and ensuring that you’ve got child/pet care covered in your absence.

We only see the overwhelmingly homogenous tip of the iceberg. I suspect that the demographics of the kinky population are much broader than the scene would have you believe.