Being Bi And Poly Is Just One Aspect Of Our Lives
Photo by Carlos Guillen (@cgn.70 on instagram)
Bproud is an Italian blog and an offline/physical project all about bisexuality. It’s one of the most enduring projects of its kind in Italy and one of the most professional and exhaustive. They offer clear and distinguished information and support to bi people of all ages. In a country where bisexuality is still questioned, Bproud seeks to be a little oasis. Anna at Bproud recently published an interview with bi.org contributor Rio Veradonir in Italian. Here is the English version:
When we decided to start our “Bfamily” column on Bproud*, a few months ago, we asked ourselves “what does family mean to us?” After a few seconds we realized that, for us, “family” means to love each other, choose each other, be together and share our lives in the way we and the people we love, decide is the best for us.
Speaking from a monogamous point of view, I’ve always had a soft spot for polyamory. Why? Because as polyamory isn’t for everyone, neither is monogamy. You need to “have an aptitude” for it and feel it as a part of yourself and it isn’t like that for everyone. And it definitely doesn’t have to be. So polyamory seems like the most beautiful alternative because it is based on honesty between partners who don’t hide secret affairs but openly talk about their feelings, basing their relationships on dialogue and respect.
So, it’s with great pleasure that today we present our interview with Rio, contributor for bi.org, a bi man, married to a woman and in a strong and long-lasting poly relationship.
When did you “come out to yourself” as bi?
I knew I was attracted to boys and girls long before I knew there was a word to describe it. I forget the exact age, but around nine or so, I remember an older friend telling me a silly joke. He asked me if I was “homosexual,” “heterosexual,” or “bisexual.” He had a devious look in his eyes. I didn’t know the meaning of those words yet, but I recognized the prefix “homo” from “homo sapiens,” so I figured I better choose that one lest I accidentally confess to bestiality. My friend laughed. I’d given exactly the answer he expected. “That means you’re attracted to boys,” he exclaimed. That night, I looked up the terms in my family’s Encyclopedia Britannica. From then on, I knew there was a word for people with my attraction patterns: bisexual.
When did you come out to your wife?
My wife knew I was bi before we even started dating. Her name is Talia, by the way. She and I were friends first, as they say, and I had been out to my friends for years by the time I met her, so it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t even remember telling her. Talia had studied German Literature and Economics at Bryn Mawr (a women’s college with a reputation for being very progressive about feminist / LGBT issues). So, I must have expected she would accept me. There was never any fear.
Is your wife bi?
Yes. She is. Although, when we first met she hadn’t yet come out to herself. She identified as straight. Over time, Talia came to identify as “heteroflexible” and has since realized that while she has a strong preference for men, she is #StillBisexual. She’s now editor-in-chief of bi.org. Talia Squires, if you want to look her up. We did the stereotypical modern feminist couple thing and each kept our own own surnames.
Rio and Talia
Before your marriage, did you have previous poly relationships? Only exclusive? Both?
I’ve been polyamorous since I was 17 years old. An ex girlfriend broke my heart when I was 16, and I began developing the concept of something much like polyamory in my head thereafter. Much as in the case of my childhood self and the word “bisexuality,” my teenage self didn’t yet know the word “polyamory” at that point. Nevertheless, I knew I didn’t want to be limited to one romantic or sexual partner ever again. I think it was partially born from a desire to avoid being hurt in the same way. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Something like that. LOL.
Was your marriage a poly relationship from the beginning or even before?
Yes. I’m of the opinion that every relationship should default to open until a monogamous agreement is explicitly reached. In common parlance, this is called “dating” versus “going steady.” Talia knew I was polyamorous by the time we reached the stage in our relationship where a couple would have the “going steady” talk. We agreed that our relationship would be open, although neither of us dated other people for the first several years of our relationship. That wasn’t because we couldn’t, but rather because we didn’t feel the need to do that yet. It was enough to know that we could if we wanted to.
Can you explain to us the dynamics of your poly relationship?
Happily. Talia and I had many detailed conversations about what the rules of our relationship would be. I highly recommend this. Too much can be assumed or taken for granted unless it’s made explicit. After much discussion, we agreed that we would give one another “veto power” over potential partners, as a way of respecting each other’s feelings. Not all polyamorous couples have this rule, but we do. It basically means that if one of us feels threatened by one of the other’s parters, we can veto that person. Then, we will respect each other’s wishes and stop dating the vetoed person. So far, neither of us have used it, but it’s very reassuring to know that we can. It helps us trust each other and not feel jealous.
Can you tell us, emotionally speaking, what happens in your relationship? ( Initial or current / occasional jealousy or, quite the opposite, unselfishness and wish to share this experience or other…?)
We’ve had the occasional issue with jealousy or selfishness, just like any monogamous couple. But I honestly think we experience those negative emotions LESS often than the average couple. Talia and I have been together about ten years now. In addition to that, I’ve been with my primary boyfriend, Damian, for the last five of those years. I think most people would agree that healthy fulfilling relationships of that length for someone of my age (33) is a pretty good testament to the durability of polyamorous relationships. I fully expect to stay with both of my primary partners, Talia and Damian, “until death do us part.” In fact, I wish I could legally marry Damian as well as my wife. I consider him my husband in all but legal terms.
Rio and Damian
Are you “out” to your friends/family/colleagues as a poly couple? If not, why? If yes, what’s other people’s usual reaction?
Yes. All three of us, Talia, Damian, and myself are out to our friends and family as both bi and as polyamorous (Damian is bi as well). For the most part, we’ve had positive reactions from family. Some of the older, more conservative members of our family had a harder time with it, as to be expected, but nobody has rejected us. Our friends have been 100% supportive. We’re lucky to live in one of the most liberal, cosmopolitan, and open minded places on earth – Los Angeles. We all three also have family in beautiful Ashland, Oregon (a much smaller town than LA but equally progressive). We’re aware of the fact that we are very privileged to have the opportunities and family that we have. Too many bi and polyamorous people are trapped in far less loving circumstances.
Are you planning to have kids? If yes, do you honestly think you’re going to keep your marriage as a poly relationship and being out to your kids as bi and as poly?
Maybe to having kids. Yes to keeping the relationships poly. We’re still fairly young. Talia is my age, and Damian is 23. We’d love to have a kid some day, but there are a number of professional and personal goals we’d like to accomplish first. I don’t think any of us will feel empty if we don’t end up having children. In my opinion, we’d regret it more if we were to have a kid before we are ready. So, ideally – yes. But, we’ll see. Maybe if America gets its shit together and votes the Democrats back into power. I’m not a partisan, but I think most of the world is looking at our country right now and thinking “what the heck?” I don’t want to bring a child into this world if it’s going to be a fascist world. But yes, if we have a kid we will stay polyamorous and be out to our kid as poly.
Do you have any final thoughts/advice you’d like to offer?
I’d say don’t lose sight of yourself. Being bi and poly is just one part of life. It’s not the most interesting or important thing about a person. Talia and Damian are both brilliant, talented, hard working people who contribute a great deal to society. We love our dogs, we enjoy traveling. We all work together for a wonderful non-profit organization: Bi.org (Damian does our Spanish translations). We also help run an international bi social club called amBi.org, where we’re notorious for throwing the best parties. As with monogamous and straight people, it’s our work that makes life fulfilling, and it’s our friends and experiences that make life worth living. We’d face more or less the same challenges in our relationships even if we weren’t polyamorous and bi. So, my general advice for everyone would be: be yourself. Don’t assume that heterosexuality or monogamy are the human default. Think honestly about your own feelings and the feelings of your partner(s) and create unique rules for your life and relationships that make you happiest. Every life and every relationship will have ups and downs. So, you might as well be yourself and enjoy what life has to offer you as an individual.