Looking for queer, female polyamorous role models in mainstream
culture is akin to seeking out woman fronting FTSE 100 companies;
they're few and far between. Why?
"Because poly is seen as socially freakish, without actually
being that weird or illegal," says Bethany Rutter (23, one
long-term partner, dating). While queer women continue to stake out
positions of relative power in the mainstream, polyamorous women -
those who love, and are loved by, a coterie of parters, lovers
and/or spouses - are still considered taboo. Poly practice has been
around for centuries, and yet monogamy, like heterosexuality, is
still considered the default norm around the world. Monogamous
lesbians may balk at the idea of an affinity with poly dykes, but
our experiences echo each other's in many ways: both involve
"coming out", both involve breaking with norms, both are subject to
stereotypes and both, to some extent, offer women the freedom to
explore their sexuality unfettered by society's nuclear family
"Poly goes against everything we're taught about relationships,"
explains Jess Dixon, (22, boyfriend of three years, girlfriend of
two months, casually dating a male/female couple for three years).
"Particularly for women. We grow up being told we'll meet the man
of our dreams, marry and have children and live happily ever after.
Polyamory is threatening to that whole narrative." Add queerness to
the poly mix, and you have a veritable Molotov cocktail of radical
identity politics, which goes some ways towards explaining why,
even next to queerness, poly is deemed so transgressive.
"Queer relationships are almost less threatening to the status
quo," says Emma Lewis (26, two partners, cohabiting with one, open
to casual liaisons) "because they can be assimilated with marriage
and adoption." But with the rise of poly lifestyles, and
community-based organisations such as PolyDay and OpenCon, an
increasing number of queer women are embracing poly, and exploring
new ways to enjoy love and commitment.
To read the rest of this feature, buy a copy of DIVA's
January 2013 issue.
Buy it here!