Coming Out

When the year hits with a global pandemic that shuts you away from the world and normal routine, it can provide a lot of room for self reflection. When the outside is taken from you, the inside can be a deep place to learn and grow. In the last several months, I have found myself coming to a richer understanding of who I am; beginning to identify pieces of myself that have always been there but never been allowed to truly breathe. It is a process that has helped me better define who I am in three key areas.

Gender Identity:

I am genderqueer, and identify as non-binary.

genderqueer : of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female (Merriam-Webster)

non-binary : relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female (Merriam-Webster)

I have always felt disconnected from the idea of maleness and masculinity in our society. It was not until the last several years that I began to understand the idea of gender as a cultural construct and a spectrum. After seeing gender neutral characters in fiction and reading memoirs of others on their gender journeys, it became clear that I identify as neither male nor female. At times I feel like neither. Other times I feel like both. Since gender is fluid, that may be something that continues to shift for the rest of my life. 

I do not experience body dysmorphia, so I don’t plan on making any permanent changes to my body. However, I do plan on exploring more of my gender fluidity. That can include things like owning more femme styles of clothing and wearing nail polish. I plan on keeping my name the same. However, I have changed my pronouns. I am okay with using they/them (the most common non-binary pronouns), but prefer the use of e/em. I know, it is a little weird. They are called Spivak pronouns, and you can read more about it here. This also means that there are certain terms that no longer apply to me. Words like son, brother, husband, nephew, and uncle are all male terms. In their place are gender neutral terms like child, sibling, spouse/partner, nibling, and auncle/unty. Yeah, I don’t particularly like the gender neutral terms for niece/nephew and aunt/uncle either. So if my family wants to come up with some better terms, I am open. We can totally make up our own!

Sexual Identity (Orientation):

My wife and I are pansexual.

pansexual : of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation (Merriam-Webster)

Growing up in a conservative, religious household kept me in the mindset of a very binary, black and white type of thinking when it came to sex and attraction. I was taught heterosexuality was the only correct way, and having any kind of feelings outside of that was sinful and wrong. With that kind of dogma being drilled into you, it makes it hard to ever truly be honest with oneself about their sexual orientation. Honestly, I think most people are fluid in their attractions throughout life if they are honest with themselves. After splitting from the more dogmatic traditions of my faith, it took many years to allow myself to recognize that my attractions go beyond gender. Though I have largely been attracted to feminine expression over my life, it has never been the sole case. And as I get older and more open with myself, I realize that I am attracted to a person more than to their gender identity or sexual orientation. It is freeing to let myself be okay with my orientation and not limit it based on the unnecessary influence of outside parties. This is also an identity that Heather connects with. It is a new bond that her and I share. It is something that Heather has been aware of in herself for longer than I, but has more recently become a label that she proudly wears. I am not here to tell her story, but it is awesome to know that as I learn and grow, others in my life beside me are doing the same.

Relational Identity:

Heather and I are ethically non-monogamous and practice polyamory.

ethically non-monogamous : non-monogamy at its most basic is a relationship that involves more than two people. “Ethical” non-monogamy implies that all parties are being treated respectfully, and that enthusiastic consent to the arrangement has been given by everyone involved. (cbc.ca)

polyamory : the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time (Merriam-Webster)

During the pandemic, Heather and I have been closer than ever before. The extended time together in the house has made our relationship deeper and more intimate. Our trust and vulnerability have grown. We have supported one another as we learn more about ourselves through self-reflection. It has been overwhelmingly positive. And because of those new identities that we have found, we have begun a new dynamic in our relationship to allow one another to explore those things in a healthy and supported way. 

If I have not lost you yet, this may be the part that has you running for the hills. As a partnership, we have decided to have an open marriage. We want a marriage where we are free to connect with others outside of our own relationship. One where we are open and honest with each other and our partners; where everyone is aware of everyone else. A relationship where we can form connections and create dynamics that would not be possible in our own marriage, recognizing that no two people’s relationships are the same. And to be clear, this is not a theoretical decision. Over the past several months, we have been exploring this dynamic, and have both found partners outside of ourselves that we have grown to care for greatly. It has been enriching and awesome. It has brought Heather and I closer than ever before. When done with emotional maturity, trust, and openness, polyamory is affirming and amazing. 

This is a lifestyle and dynamic that we will continue to explore and learn about as time goes on. We are still very much in love and happily married. Heather means the world to me, and I cannot envision life without her. This is a decision we are both excited about and proud of. It is something that we do not want to hide from friends or family, even if they may not totally understand. I don’t know if it means that other partners will show up at family get togethers when those types of things are happening again. All those details are up to the dynamic of particular partners. Some of those relationships may be long term, some short, some public, some more private. But I hope that whatever they do end up looking like in the broader sense of our lives, those who call themselves friends and family will be supportive and loving.