From: Deb Smyre (
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999 17:39:57 -0600 (MDT)
I've noticed the  term "poly people" is being used as a term of being
rather than doing, i.e. "we are poly people" rather than "we are people who
have chosen to be poly".  

This is interesting since it fits directly with someone's earlier
suggestion that it's okay to be openly prejudiced against "poly people" as
opposed to, say, gay people.  

I view polyamory as simply a lifestyle choice, not a congenital trait or an
ethnicity, and I don't believe disapproval of a lifestyle choice is in the
same social category as hating someone for being brown or gay.  That is to
say, it's not an individual's choice to be brown or gay, but it's a choice
to be poly.  Creating a vocabulary that uses "poly people" as a state of
being rather than a state of doing makes prejudice seem a reasonable
accusation when disapproval is expressed. Also, this labeling gives "poly
people" a single group identity, which is comforting and supports a "We
v.s. Them" response to criticism.  Arguing 'they don't like us for who we
are' holds more sway than arguing 'they don't like what we're doing'.

I think gay couples who are commited to a single partner for a long-term
relationship and/or child-rearing are great neighbors.  I don't feel the
same way about people who choose to be polyamorous.  Maybe it's my age
(44), though I think I'm a fairly open-minded person with regard to human
sexuality.  Luckily, I've had only positive sexual experiences in my
history (sorry, Catherine).

When I think of polyamory, I think of people "sleeping around" with a fancy
name attached to their behavior.  This, in my humble opinion, clashes so
with what partnering and commitment is supposed to be about -- with what
I'm about at this stage in life -- that I honestly don't care to be around
folks who are into it.

I think polyamory has become more visible with the help of the internet,
not necessarily more popular.  My belief is that it's always been with us
by different names like "swinging", and it's always been primarily a
male-driven lifestyle.  I believe the Women's Movement and a variety of
virulent STDs which shall remain nameless have seriously curbed the appeal
of polyamory for most folks.

Rob wrote that it took a while for some people to own up to their
disapproval of community members who were engaged in "partner swapping".
Maybe I'm a half-step ahead by already publicly owning up.

Deb Smyre, MSW, LGSW

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