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.


Blogger Question said...

Polygamy is different from polyamory. One realizes that however the man and the women come to live polygyny, i.e., religious or not, it is a marriage and it has historical roots in our nation. One looks at the demographics particularly in the mature age groups and clearly polygamy is an answer to the great disparity in numbers.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Dr. Raymond L. Burkhart said...

I can identify with the teacher. By 'coming out', I risk everything as well. It is a difficult step to take.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want so much to be 'out of the closet'! I love my husband and his other wife, I would love for our relationship to be common knowledge. We live in the mid-west, the buckle of the bible belt, we accept that society around here will never accept our relationship. I want my children and their children to know and accept who we are to each other. We have been working on this relationship for over a year, all committed to each other for 6 months.
I will continue to look for 'coming out' stories, and one day, I hope to be posting my own!

11:14 AM  
Blogger Johnnomads said...

I suspect we'll eventually come out to our families and friends, when Unconstitutional anti-bigamy laws are repealed. I suspect that they will tell us that they figured out our family structure long ago. I can relate to the teacher, even though we are retired we will condemed in some circles. Old prejudices take a long time to die.

4:10 PM  
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