Human beings are constructed to be social animals. We saw it in the tribes of old during the early years of Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens, we saw it in the construction of ancient and medieval towns and cities, and we see it today in the increasing focus of population within large metropolitan areas. As socially constructed animals, we long to be not only near other people but also to be perceived as fitting within the socially accepted norm of those people. There are, as with any rule, exceptions to this rule, but even among those who run counter to accepted norms there is typically a theme of independence present — those with large amounts of sustainable wealth or those who support themselves via artistic talent maintain the ability to create a self-norm that is eventually accepted by the public at large as normal for that person, to the point where deviating from that created norm to the conventional public norm is then deemed impermissible. But what of us in the middle of the spectrum, who work 40 hour work weeks earning middle class incomes who don’t fit the traditionally assigned normative roles? What behavior patterns do we assume so as to not expose ourselves to inordinate risk?
Anybody who sees me out in public would never know my various orientations and proclivities. I don’t dress incredibly stylishly (although Mrs. AP is helping me slowly evolve my fashion sense), I don’t flirt ridiculously with every person I meet, I don’t wear leather, vinyl, or latex on a regular basis; I look, with the possible exception of my long hair, like an average guy. I blend in. This is partly attributable to having been raised in a military family that moved frequently, but has more largely been due to my desire to not draw undue attention to myself. I haven’t want to stand out too much for fear of what people may see. I have both deliberately and subconsciously hidden aspects of myself from the general public, which only served to make the idea of coming out and embracing all facets o myself that much more difficult. I reasoned that staying hidden was safer, even if it meant not being truthful with friends, family, and relatives. This approach helped feed my depression and nearly killed me. I had to stop hiding from myself and others.
How I handled coming out wasn’t the best, however; I didn’t just say “oh yeah, by the way, I’ve always been this way” and left it at that. I flaunted my new-found self embrace — my actualization, if you will — to the point of obnoxiousness. Mrs. AP pointed it out to me the other day; I’d become so focused on being Out and Bi/Queer and Poly/Swing and whatnot that I lost the focus on everything else that pertains to who I am and what I find important. In trying to be this wonderful Bi Poly/Swing individual I pushed myself to the margin of the rest of my life and disconnected from the important aspects of being a good person. I ignored — worse, I failed to perceive — the ways in which Mrs. AP was asking for more attention and asking for less selfishness on my part.
That’s the thing about trying to be Out and focusing on. in a Non-Army way, being all you can be’ selfish tendencies (at least in me) come to the surface. With that selfishness and the behavior that is more marginal and fringe-like than hetero-normative, monogamous society would have us embrace comes the unintended consequence of not fully hearing and processing everything friends and partners are always saying. We’ve all seen it before, in the Just Out pretty gay boy who now wants flirt with and fellate and fornicate every guy he sees, or the Newbie Swinger who wants to fuck everybody but doesn’t know how to say no to the couples (or singles) who may be bad partners. In classic Shiny New Toy fashion I let the excitement and energy from embracing my many facets and launching this blog override everything else in my life. Not completely, mind you, but in many small ways I was dedicating more time and attention to being Bi and Poly/Swing than I was to being a good partner, a good daddy, and a good friend. Thankfully, Mrs. AP is the most loving, caring, nurturing, and overall incredible person I have ever met and she gave me the smackdown I deserved to get me to see my behavior clearly.
This is the danger any of us, be we Polyamorous, Swinger, Straight, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Kinky, a Festishist, or any other role or orientation of which you can think, risk as we try to advance our own standing within the social norm. We are on the fringe, we are the marginalized groups, and our behavior can sometimes get the best of us and do our cause more harm than good. We strive and yearn to be accepted for Who We Are, but in doing so we often lose sight of those who already love and support us. We cannot advance the acceptance of alternative lifestyles and sexual freedom if we start treating those around us as if they are inconsequential. By acting in ways that not only expose our fringe behavior but also highlight how selfish and self-absorbed that behavior can become we do damage than good for everybody.
Stay SINful, friends.