ZAPoly Discussion Topic : Coming Out Poly
Coming out describes the process of telling the truth about oneself -
that might be received negatively. Someone who has not yet come out is
said to be in the closet.
Coming out as a participant in a new relationship style isn't exactly
the same as coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or
intersex (LGBTI for short) but there are a lot of similarities. Members
of the general public often have inaccurate and derogatory stereotypes
about people in both groups. Our coming out about our
differently-defined relationship(s) is often met with hostility,
misunderstanding, or dismissal. If we can meet these reactions with
good humour and aplomb, however, it is also often possible to use these
instances as occasions for education and expanded awareness. Taking
inspiration from what LGBTI people have learned about coming out in
defence of their own orientations is a good start.
Coming out is a process. First – admitting to yourself that you really
are the way you are. Next – letting people know about your
polyamorous self. Finally – no longer being afraid of being discovered.
Benefits of Coming Out
- Permission to be who you are
- You don’t have to lie.
- Coming out prevents misunderstandings and speculation.
- Don’t have to go through life with the sense that one is
guarding a dirty little secret – which can cause isolation, alienation
- Coming out fits with a personal philosophy of openness
- People can know who your partners are and what they mean to
- Opportunity to educate those around you. By being "out", we
open the doors for others to live without fear.
- Easier to find like-minded people for friendship and love
- It can be safer. If you are acting as if you have something
to hide, people will assume “worse” than anything you are actually
doing. Keeping secrets can increase your liability. They can
give other people great power over you.
Risks of Coming Out
- With children there is a potential for a custody dispute
- Losing one’s job.
- Losing friendships
- Being disinherited/losing financial support
- Being discriminated against at work or school or when
seeking housing or a job.
- Embarrassing your children
How Not to Come out
- In anger.
- As revenge.
- Through a third party.
- When you're not ready.
How to Come out
Specific issues related to coming out to:
- Pick the people you come out to (and in order in which you
do it) carefully
- Be prepared to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the
people you come out to
- Can opt to write a letter and follow it up in person
- Keep in mind why you’re coming out the this particular
- Be clear about who else knows and whether discretion may be
- Take time to answer questions as thoroughly as you can.
Address their concerns specifically. Good idea to have armed yourself
with responses beforehand
- Offer the person a list of books, articles or websites so
they can better understand your relationships
- Emphasize that you are available to help the person process
the information in whatever way they need
- Be prepared for a negative response
- Parents have certain expectations about who their children
will grow up to be. Shattering expectations can be difficult for them
- Misunderstanding poly means people can revert to common
myths and misconceptions – swinging/orgies
- Can’t accept relationship styles that challenge their own
- Ambivalence or dissatisfaction with monogamy can mean they
lash out at you (unconsciously envious)
- Stay calm, don’t become offensive, offer a
well-reasoned response, no matter what. Don’t let anyone make you feel
guilty. Remind them that these are your choices
- When someone outs you – take charge and address it
immediately even though the moment may not be ideal. Give the person
clear information with as much detail as you feel comfortable sharing.
To your Dr’s (NCSF What psychology professionals should know about
The general public
It is up to each individual to decide if the consequences of coming out
to their families is worth the acknowledgement and respect due to their
Chapters In Books
-- South African Polyamory http://www.polyamory.co.za
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