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25 MIN READ TIME

Human Relations

Mark

is in a thruple – a committed relationship with two other men.

There’s not a big difference between my relationship and others, really. It seems very crazy for a lot of people, three people in a relationship, but it just kind of turned out that way, we never really planned for it. It was a connection - we all three were interested in each other. The other two were together already for a long time and I joined into that. When people ask about it, I don’t really know what to say to them, because for us it’s just a very normal situation. It’s like being in a relationship with two people except you have three. We all respect each other in the same way, we all treat each other in the same way.

I think as humans we just have to get used to situations and as soon as you do you start to see things differently. Everything works for people differently, there’s no point in pointing the finger and judging. As long as they don’t harm anybody else, let them do what they want.

I can only speak for myself but I think that because gay people are kind of unconventional already by being gay, they are more open to trying different things.

Anna

and her wife are in a monogamous relationship.

We are what my wife would call exceptionally conventional and ordinary, but I would take that any day. For me to find that one person I could sit by the stove with or look forward to cooking dinner for while they get a movie ready - for me that’s everything really.

I think there are there so many different types of relationships in the queer community because we’re generally more open, we’re more diverse. We are freer spirits, especially for my generation because we’ve had to try hard to get where we are. The generation coming up behind us, we’ve set the bar for them not to be afraid to be themselves.

Ever since we’ve had marriage equality, it’s like we’re free to speak openly about our relationships. I would have been afraid to hold my wife’s hand walking down the street beforehand, but the result propelled the community to another level where we are confident to come out (as our different sexualities). We are having those conversations now.

Also since the referendum there’s a new community to fit into - the married community! And I quite like it, I never thought I’d wear it well, because I never originally wanted to get married, but I do. I just met the right person. Straight people have this idea of gay people being crazy - the fact that we sleep with our same sex is mind blowing to some, but we really are so normal I think sometimes straight people are disappointed.

Damien

is in an open relationship initiated by his partner.

We’ve been together for two years and started by being monogamous. My partner is HIV Positive, I am not. He is undetectable, so the desire to increase his relationships with men actually opened our relationship. At the beginning he would not have known if he would pass on the virus, so he was forced into a monogamous relationship in a way, but now that we are aware, I’m okay with his desire to explore realities that had been forbidden in the past.

In the past, I would have thought it’s not for me, it’s not something I’m interested in. I do still have the ideal of one plus one, but that’s just an ideal, in reality though I do not have any judgements. In the wider community, there is judgement, we would be seen as either sluts or non committed. Within the gay community, there is more education and knowledge so it would be more accepted and more frequent. We talk about sex and we love sex, but we lost so many people because of sex, so it’s driving you to understand (different types of relationships) while in the straight community, sex is not the centre of the conversation, it is something that is just there. In the queer community, we label ourselves by our sexual desires, it’s the heart of our existence. We are openly sexualised and openly talking about it because it’s everywhere around us.

James

and his husband have been in an open relationship from the beginning.

We’ve been together since 1989. We were always a committed gay male couple but in an open relationship. When we first started dating, we were sure of ourselves as being queer sex radicals and we didn’t want to be heteronormative. We saw conventional ideals about monogamy as mimicking what a proper relationship should be in the straight world and so on. I think part of our longevity is attributable to the fact that we were always open, which meant it gave us each freedom to grow and to explore ourselves in different ways. It was at first this rationale of having to do with the politics of monogamy. As it’s grown it’s become about how the relationship is actually stronger when the people are able to change and adapt within it.

I think open relationships are far more common among gay couples than they are amongst straight couples. I do think because of cultural norms, there’s a lot of secrecy and dishonesty that occurs in the straight world around this. I think also it’s generational, around my age people are much more accustomed to, and au fait with, the idea of polyamory and openness.

Names have been changed to protect privacy.

This article appears in the 348 Issue of GCN

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This article appears in the 348 Issue of GCN