Is being Poly the same thing as being LGBTQ?

By Talia Porter

I remember being six and having a crush on two boys at the same time, one on each side of me during my classes. That was the first time I remember being confronted with the idea that being monogamous was unsuitable for me, and in my early teenage years, I learned that the term for that is polyamorous.

Though the concept of polyamory has been around for as long as humans have been, it’s still considered incredibly taboo and isn’t commonly accepted. So, although poly people are commonly judged, is their oppression similar enough to LGBTQ+ individuals to be a part of the community? Which is to say, if a cisgendered, heterosexual person identifies as polyamorous, should the time and resources of activists be used to protect and support them?

Some say that they deserve a spot in the LGBTQ community because they experience struggles associated with being outside of the norm, while some argue that they aren’t truly far enough outside this norm to be considered part of the community.

Polyamory is often confused with polygamy, which is often a religious practice or part of cultural tradition, and is distinctly not the same as polyamory. Polygamy consists of one person being married to multiple of the opposite gender, whereas polyamory often is more genderblind. Polyamory, also known as consensual non-monogamy, is the practice of having multiple intimate relationships, whether sexual or just romantic, with the full knowledge and consent of all parties involved. Polyamory can be a situation where each person is dating the other, or where certain people are dating and others are just dating one person, or just not the entire group. Though there is a lot of stigma surrounding polyamory, it’s fairly common in America, with one in 20 couples identifying as polyamorous.

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Many argue that those who are allocishet who participate in polyamory should be considered a part of the LGBTQ+ community because polyamory is, in a way, a type of sexual attraction or system of attraction that is outside the norm. The argument that gender and sexual orientation are fluid can easily be applied to systems of attraction and relationships. In addition, there is almost no representation of polyamorous people in the media and Holywood, with the closest thing to a polyamorous relationship in a Disney movie being the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty, which shouldn’t be praised as it’s a deeply problematic movie for different reasons. Because polyamourous allocishet people face exclusion and discrimination, and aspects of the way they handle relationships are more fluid, they do qualify to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in multiple ways.

But still, the question remains as to whether or not polyamorous allocishet people belong fully in the LGBTQ+ community, and if they fall under the group of LGBTQ+ who need protection and resources for support. Allocishet people are not often part of the LGBTQ+ community youth that often wind up homeless and are not associated with a history of being violently discriminated against. Some have argued that allocishet polyamorous people should be put under the title GSM or GSD, which stands for Gender and Sexual Minorities or Diversity, in order to acknowledge the discrimination that polyamorous people face as a whole while creating a specific space for other marginalized groups. Essentially, this way there is a space to acknowledge the less scrutinized groups while centering their more violently oppressed counterparts.

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Looking back to my second grade class, I remember thinking that there was something wrong with me. This was the same feeling that I got when I realized that I liked people regardless of gender, and it’s a feeling that I still carry with me sometimes today. Now, I think that it’s a bit counterintuitive to exclude groups that have been marginalized based on their gender identity, sexuality, or system of attraction from the LGBTQ+ community as long as everything is always consensual and not harmful to others. That being said, it’s important to ensure that you are always centering those who need help in this moment without forgetting your own emotional and personal needs.

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