Do you have questions about gender, sexuality, diversity, or acceptance? Would you like anonymous advice from friendly peer counselors?
Check out the Queer Resource Center, the educational branch of Triskelion, the Brandeis LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual/ally) group. We provide free, confidential peer counseling to people of all identities in Shapiro Campus Center room 328, Mondays through Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m.
Now you can have your questions answered anonymously in print! Submit a question to “Ask the QRC” at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Hoot” in the subject line, and you’ll see your question addressed anonymously in next week’s paper!
I’m puzzled by the name “Queer Resource Center.” Isn’t “queer” an insulting term?
Confused in Cable
Great question! You’re right in that “queer” began as a derogatory, homophobic word. However, the term has been reclaimed, and in a liberal environment like Brandeis it is perfectly acceptable to use. Unlike commonly used terms such as “gay” and “lesbian,” “queer” is an umbrella term, encompassing any person whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression does not conform to societal norms. The term unifies all members of the LGBTQIA acronym, and even some heterosexuals identify as queer once their point of view no longer conforms to societal norms. Of course, it is important to use the term with the same sensitivity and discretion that you would for any other personal identity.
My partner, Taylor, and I have been together for 7 months, and are very committed to each other. Lately, I have been interested in opening up the relationship, but I’m too embarrassed to bring it up. I’m worried that Taylor won’t understand that I’m still in love, and just want us to be able to explore together. The last thing that I want is to hurt Taylor. Is it okay for me to want to see other people, while still keeping this relationship?
In the queer community, this is known as Polyamory, an identity based on consensual non-monogamy. Polyamorous people believe that love is strengthened, not weakened, by participation in multiple (carefully negotiated) emotional and/or sexual relationships. It is perfectly fine for you to want further romantic involvement with other people, because expecting to get everything you want from only one person is often unrealistic.
Yet as long as you want to stay with Taylor, open dialogue and consent is key: without honest negotiation, open relationships can turn from Polyamory to infidelity. Therefore, it is important to be completely honest with Taylor before further exploration.
Start out by telling Taylor why you value this relationship. Then explain why you think that Polyamory could be a liberating endeavor for both of you. Propose the idea of remaining “primaries”: in Polyamory, these are long-term partners who remain each other’s first priorities. Taylor and you could still share a crucial bond, while other partners took second precedent. If Taylor seems interested, then you can negotiate rules and boundaries (the specific who, what, where, when, why, and how), making sure that all encounters are safe and consensual. Part of your agreement could be to report experiences and partners to each other, in order to stay honest.
Remember that strained Polyamory is never sustainable or beneficial. If Taylor is uninterested in Polyamory, try to work out any relationship problems internally rather than trying to pressure Taylor.