Every now and then, I manage to pause The X-Files, leave the house and make a friend. Why? Because I’m low on Vitamin D, sunshine loves company and sometimes so do I. But I hit a dilemma in every ice-breaking chat: I have to decide, in a flash, whether to mention my double-boyfriend status.
It’s inevitable. New friends ask each other about work, passions, partners, cats (mostly cats). When I answer, do I mention only one partner (erasing the other)? Do I merge them, transformer-style, into one very talented mega-boyfriend? I could be up front – but honesty comes with complications.
I’m used to being quizzed about relationships and sexuality. For a fairly vanilla slice, I’ve dated across spectra of gender and age. I’ve had lovers live in my pocket and live overseas. I even once went out with a reverend. Mum has ceased to express surprise. Yet, of all the questions I’ve been asked, this one remains the most challenging: “How did you talk two men into this?”
The answer depends on the audience. There’s the cop-out quickie: a sly, flirty eyebrow-raise. The quip: “The harem is very comfortable.” And then there’s the real answer: My partners are two intelligent adults who gave their informed consent after a year’s worth of reading, thinking and conversation. The truth is that the only thing I’ve trained them in is how I like my morning cup of tea.
The long answer might be the one I prefer to give—I don’t want to end up listed in anyone’s phone as “Hugh Hefner"—but it’s a gateway to stickier topics: ethical nonmonogamy and consent. Critical discussion surrounding these concepts remains relatively new. Consent, on its own, has been waiting since the dinosaurs to become a hot topic; it was Jaclyn Friedman’s 2011 essay "The (Nonexistent) Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Consequences of Enthusiastic Consent” that got the ball rolling for me.
This is an excerpt from The Lifted Brow #21: The Sex Issue. Get your copy now to read the rest of the story!