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You Have to Try This New Thing Straight People Discovered

Is polyamory radical enough to liberate queer people?
20th Century Fox

It's called "polyamory," and it sounds pretty great.

The straights are leading the sexual revolution, and the gays could really learn a thing or two.

In a new article for Quartz, reporter Olivia Goldhill explores how "Polyamorous Sex Is The Most Quietly Revolutionary Political Weapon In The United States." The largely heterosexual polyamorists -- that is, people who practice polyamory, i.e., date and sleep with multiple partners -- she interviews for the piece appear to have thunk up an ingenious way out of the oppressive doldrums of traditional, one-on-one monogamy that have plagued LGBTQ communities in recent decades. The article details many alternative solutions, including "triads," "non-hierarchical relationships," and other forms of "ethical non-monogamy." Their minds!

"[M]any polyamorists today believe the act of dating multiple people is inherently political, since monogamy, they note, is inextricably linked with both economics and politics," Goldhill writes. "Polyamory is radical politics from that perspective. Today's polyamorists may not be rejecting conventional jobs or bourgeois consumption, but they are shifting fundamental structures of society simply by relating to each other differently."

Meanwhile, the gays are floundering, letting compulsory monogamy and the pressure of nuclear family structures piss on their legs during their Best New Artist Grammy acceptance speech and tell them it's liberatory. Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore writes of this "gay elite" hijacking the "queer struggle" in the introduction to That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation's second edition. "Willful participation in U.S. imperialism is crucial to the larger goal of assimilation," she writes, "as the holy trinity of marriage, military service and adoption has become the central preoccupation of a gay movement centered more on obtaining straight privilege than challenging power."

Though she wrote these words in 2008, they ring no less true today. Following the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, middle class gays have retreated to domesticity. The fight for gay inclusion in the military has given way to trans inclusion in the military, while the alternative -- abolishing the military industrial complex -- languishes on the sidelines of the mainstream gay rights movement, which seeks to further legislate and codify queer and trans people into the very legal systems that have harmed us for centuries. In search of validity and acceptance, queer and trans people have flung ourselves down a hole, garden trowel in hand. We've fallen so far that, for a long time, I wasn't sure if we'd ever find a way to claw our way back out. But now, thanks to these truly forward-thinking heterosexuals, I think I've found the answer.

If the fundamental structures of society -- that is, the nuclear, patriarchal, heterosexual family -- are what have harmed us, why do we continue to slouch towards it? Perhaps, we should take a page out of the heterosexuals' book and give this whole "polyamory" thing a try. Two partners! Can you imagine? Wish I'd thought of that.

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Harron Walker