For most of my adult life I have tried to destroy heteronormative myths about gay couples: that gay men are promiscuous and incapable of long-lasing monogamous relationships. Notwithstanding the fact that I have known more than a few gay men who were promiscuous with no interest in stable, long-term relationships, most of my gay male friends are living lives that look a lot like those of many heterosexual couples (different plumbing excepted).
Ann and I, resisting the common slanders, have been heard by audiences as a nice, normal, married couple—the kind you see in TV spots and just the kind of allies many gay men desire in this cultural battle. Our support of gay marriage would seem to come from the reasonable recognition by a straight couple that gay men are quite capable of having the same kind of relationship as we have. They can make homes and raise children as part of a stable dyad, all of which is, of course, quite true. But, Ann and I have the nagging feeling that we should be battling for others as well. After all, while the battle over marriage is a battle for a certain recognition of normalcy, Ann and I are floating out there near some decidedly abnormal boundary.
Here’s the rub. Ann and I have not been a nice, conventional monogamous couple. We created a marriage that would be seen by most as demonstrating a decided tendency to polyamory. Our accommodation of my sexual proclivities has included both triads and my relationships with other men in which Ann has not participated. I am a little troubled by the strategic retreat from discussing the validity of choices other than life as a couple.
One paper from a 2008 article in the Journal of Bisexuality (Yes! We have our own academic journal) by the well known authors, Pallotta-Chiarolli and Lubowitz on an ongoing Australian study put it this way when discussing the borderline existence that Ann and I live (avert your eyes; this is why no one reads academic journals):
“Their multi-sexual relationships are both “outside” gendernormative and heteronormative constructs of marital and defacto relationships and yet “belonging,” for the partners may “pass” as a “normal” couple. They are also “outside” the dominant constructs of Australian gay identity and community while simultaneously “belonging” due to their partners’, and sometimes their own, same-sex attractions and relationships.” (Maybe we are fully inside the dominant constructs of some other country's gay identity and community. Des, would you speak to your people about this?)
I wonder how much the weight audiences give our support for the monogamous gay brethren in our community would decrease if people knew how Ann and I really have lived. To be sure, if people have enough gumption to ask, we are quite honest about our lives. Many of the gay male couples we know, including some who have asked us to speak up, have never asked. Why would they? We look so bourgeois. I just hope that they would be as supportive of our choices as we have been of theirs, the marriage battle aside.