Polygamy Now
The unfolding story of polygamy in the United States

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Emerging from the Closet

One of our readers would like to emerge from the closet --

It's good to know there are people out there being public about their lifestyle. I wish I WISH I could be public. I am a school teacher in a southwest town where everyone knows everyone else's business. [...] It's hard, because my job could very easily be taken from me on the basis of unethical behavior. I essentially have to compartmentalize my life in order to deal with it all and still be happy. I love my job. I love teaching. I also have the need to share my love with more people than my husband. It's a tough space. Thank you for being public about it. At least someone out there is a voice of reason.

This reminds me of our own experience in "coming out". For more than a year we kept our relationship secret from our intentional community. We weren't yet living in one house and eventually neighbors "woke up" to my evening shuttle at 2 AM. They suspected that I was cheating on my wife Karen, and began discretely asking her if she needed support.

It reached a point where some neighbors were being openly critical of Lisa, yet we stayed in the closet out of simple fear. What if Lisa was evicted from her rental? What if no one would sit with us at common meal?

Finally Karen had had enough. After a brief powwow, she marched up to the general meeting and made the emotional announcement. We held our collective breaths.

One family explosively rejected us, and two other neighbors immediately distanced themselves. But then we got a river of supportive visits, email, and phone calls, along with curiousity and friendly interest. We nervously started to track who was with us, and who against, but it was soon obvious that almost everyone in the forty families we live with accepted us.

Oddly enough, one of the neighbors who distanced herself is very active in helping gays out of the closet. It was almost a year before she sat with us again at common meal.

Karen's children were quite upset that we had kept a secret from them. They've become mostly reconciled to our relationship, though, and it passes unremarked on family holidays. My boss took the news with barely a blink, even though I was afraid to tell him for fear of losing my job (I didn't). The same fear struck me when I started this blog for reasons I will blog about someday.

We're still in the closet to older relatives, who we believe to be too rigid to hear the truth. We came out to Lisa's mom only last month. She was lamenting that "all the good men were taken" so it seemed appropriate to tell her that they could be shared. Anyway, we wanted her at the wedding next month when we do our legal marriage transfer.

All in all, coming out has been surprisingly easy and an enormous relief. By the way, the striking photo "Closet" is by Kitty de Preeuw of Belgium.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Family Vacation on Orcas Island

Orcas island in October is off the beaten tourist track. We took advantage of its rain shadow and a week of fine weather to rent a cabin usually reserved two years ahead. We had the three bedroom, full loft, full kitchen, wood stove cabin and fire pit to ourselves -- the neighboring cabins were unoccupied.

The ferry from Anacordes threaded its way between the San Juan islands and stopped at several of the larger ones. The terminal at Shaw Island used to be staffed by nuns, but the order was closed a few years ago. Instead, we were greeted by a bagpiper hidden in the woods.

Someone had painted a target on the landing, and passengers pitched their pennies for no reason other than the challenge of it. No doubt the money went to a good cause.

Ocean water this far north is too cold for swimming, even in the summer, but it's just right for rowing. The local boathouse had already transformed back into a pottery studio, but they let us rent a rowboat for two days, charging us for only one of them. Karen, Lisa and I rowed to nearby Picnic island and rested by the tide pool before rowing back.

The boys brought their fishing rods and improvised a crab trap from a soda can and some salami. They caught a crab that had tangled itself in the fishing line, which they freed and threw back. Low tide lowered the shoreline dramatically by about thirty feet, and we got up to go exploring by flashlight at 2 AM, but even the tide pools on the reef had little to offer except for an occasional neon blue starfish.

Our four days and three nights was spent productively, sleeping late, making fires, roasting marshmellows, drinking wine, and watching the sun set. We played board games, read books, took turns cooking, and played tourist in the nearby almost deserted town.