Critics on All Sides…

I haven’t had a chance yet to see the polyamory episode of Lisa Ling’s Our America (which aired last night), but I’ve heard from several poly folks who were quite pleased with it. Check out Alan’s post over at Poly in the Media for a lot of clips and some comments on the episode.

But while we’re on that subject, I read a brief (poly-friendly) article on Gawker earlier about the episode, and was not entirely shocked to find comments from posters who were appalled by any comparison between poly rights and LGBTQ rights, a phenomenon I mentioned in a post recently. Reading internet comments is perhaps never good for one’s sanity, but I do have to point out one particular comment because it highlights this divisive gay vs. poly stance so perfectly; the commenter actually stated that the article’s author isn’t “very good at being gay” if he “can’t see the difference between rights for gay people (people who have a fundamental identity they are born with, have nothing wrong with them, are oppressed by society, and can engage in healthy relationships) and activism on behalf of every banal sexual practice out there, especially people who are bullshit machines (do five seconds of prodding on how well these “polyamorous relationships” actually work out).” Given how frequently queer folks once had this exact same line used against them (for example: you can’t compare race and being gay, your race is something you’re born with, being gay is just a deviant “lifestyle choice”), it’s painfully ironic to see any pro-gay-rights folks using sort of “one identity is legitimate, the other is not” reasoning to put down others.

And speaking of that slippery slope, I also stumbled across a post earlier on anti-gay-marriage blog Mercator Net which warns against the coming poly revolution in Australia, or something like that. The posts author, Michael Cook, says that:

“Australian activists for same-sex marriage have always insisted, that it will not lead to polygamy or polyamory. Never, ever, ever. Gay marriage is just like traditional marriage, except for the sex of the spouse…

This is a crucial point for supporters. If they were to concede that same-sex marriage would ultimately lead to polygamy and more imaginative forms of marriage, they would prove that there is a slippery slope. So they are forced into vehement denials.

How odd, then, that a Polyamory Action Lobby (PAL) has been founded in Australia ‘to combat the image of poly people as relationship bogeymen.'”

Most of Cook’s post actually sounds just fine and dandy to me, but I suppose you have to know your audience, and he’s clearly speaking to people who will be horrified at the very thought of polyamory being legitimized. Aside from one line where he asks “Are these activists serious? Is this an elaborate hoax?” one could almost imagine the exact same post being written on a pro-poly site. “Admittedly polyamory seems radical,” Cook says, “but at every stage of the sexual revolution, the next step has seemed impossibly bold.” Sounds like a promising statement to me!

In some ways, I think an increase in conservative attention being focused on us might just be a positive thing; if homophobic douchebags are opposed to us, I think that makes us look pretty good in the eyes of most reasonable people. My only hope is that it doesn’t fuel even more backlash from people in favor of LGBTQ-rights, like the comments mentioned above.


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