Polyamory and Other Horrors

Recently, National Organization for marriage ally and “ex-gay therapy” supporter Robert Gagnon reacted in horror to the suggestion that straight, Christian students should attend Gay Straight Alliance meetings, and compared GSAs to “Nazi skinheads,” a “women abusers advocacy society,” and–what else?–“polyamory appreciation groups.”

Obviously, the main issue with Gagnon’s statement is that it’s absurdly, disgustingly bigoted toward  LGBTQ youth. But it’s kind of amusing to me the regularity with which polyamory is used by the right–along with things like Nazism and violence against women–as a more extreme form of depravity to compare to homosexuality. I remember when President Obama declared June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month,” the conservative Illinois Family Institute released a statement saying that if we were to consider a similar “polyamory appreciation day,” it would highlight the absurdity of the President’s declaration (a link to the statement no longer appears to be available). And if I had a dime for every time I read a phrase along the lines of “gay marriage will lead to things like bestiality, pedophilia, and polyamory,” I would be a wealthy woman (for one laughable example, see Glenn Beck’s lovely little visual explanation of “the slippery slope” from back in 2009).

These things would all be simply good for a laugh, if not for the fact that they genuinely do seem to fuel anti-poly sentiment even on the left. When same-sex marriage and gay rights advocates constantly hear polyamory tossed in with things like bestiality and incest as comparisons to same-sex relationships, too often they respond by lashing out against polyamory and reiterating why it is nothing at all like homosexuality. And while obviously there are tons of LGBTQ folks who support–and practice–polyamory, I’ve also seen plenty truly nasty anti-poly comments from gay and lesbian folks who are appalled by any comparison between LGBTQ rights and polyamory, even when those comparisons are coming from a favorable perspective.

It seems to me that a very uncomplicated place to draw the line in the “slippery slope” is at consent. Bestiality and pedophilia are, by their very nature, not consensual relationships between two (or more) adults. But if openness to same-sex marriage and a wider acceptance of same-sex relationships in general really does lead us to consider the possibility of recognizing and respecting other forms of relationships between humans who are able to give meaningful consent, is that really so horrifying? Or is that what real progress looks like?

One of these days, when polyamory is deployed as an “extreme” comparison to same-sex relationships, it would be nice to read some commentary that first calls out the bigotry, but also says “and while we’re at it, stop lumping polyamory in with things like Nazism/bestiality/whatever.” We should all be allies here, not letting the extreme right turn us into enemies.

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4 thoughts on “Polyamory and Other Horrors

  1. jonolan

    One, until such time as the Poly “community” comes to terms with itself and its variations, there’s no point in the discussion. We / You are to blame for most of the problems that we all face.

    Two, don’t bother blaming the Right. The Left hates many Poly people even more than right does. I’m a White Male who is Poly – I prefer polygamous over polyamorous as a term because we’re a fairly closed family – and lives with my two wives. The Left hates me far more than Right does and makes ALL sorts of assumptions about my religion, ideology, and how I “treat my women.”

    Reply
  2. Star

    I was just recently having a discussion with a poly group about this, and specifically about gay marriage rights. I referred to poly marriage as being considered “the bridge between gays and goats.” And though we need to work on growing awareness about polygamy and polyamory to inform the general public we’re not just a bunch of depraved bacchanalians (or worse! Mormons!) a lot of us felt that distancing that discussion from gay rights, even though it’s a related civil rights issue, is a kindness to the LGBTQ community. Right now, the public isn’t ready to tackle this issue, and if we tried to force it as a parallel to LGBTQ rights, it might actually result in a backslide for those issues. It’s incredibly problematic.

    Reply
    1. Angi Post author

      LOL at “the bridge between gays and goats.” I think it might have been true that we could have caused a backslide for LGBTQ rights maybe 10 or 15 years ago. At this point, though, I think a critical mass of people are in favor of those rights. Those who speak out against same-sex marriage and gay rights in general are increasingly appearing ridiculous and out of touch to the public at large; I find it really difficult to envision many people who support those rights saying “oh, wait a minute, I changed my mind” if comparisons to polyamory start being made. Ideally, I think our focus should be on building our own movement rather than just trying to jump on board with another, and I think we have to be very aware of what different these movements are at. But I think relevant comparisons are still worthwhile, just as people have compared same-sex marriage to interracial marriage for many years.

      Reply
  3. curiousfinding

    The slippery slope arguement at it again. I dont know how any human with enough sense can belive this shit that people are spuiing. To bad the world is not live and let live, Then gay and Poly could be free and happy a like.

    Reply

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