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All my life I have been the “unique one” in my family.  At the age of 5 I was determined to be the next Reba McEntire, and it didn’t get any more normal for me from there.  I don’t think it was any surprise to my family that I chose some sort of alternative lifestyle.  I think the main question was which one I would pick and when.  That being said, I never really came out to my family about any of it.  If anything they outed me to themselves.

I have been a decidedly practicing pagan since before I moved out on my own, and my daily practices before that all had pagan flavour no matter what I called it.  I never hid my alter, my tools, or my jewelry.  No one asked.  My dad did ask me once to light a candle for something for him, but beyond that no one mentioned it until I was wedding planning.  No one had heard of a handfasting, and my mother-in-law had been telling people we were having a “traditional Celtic wedding”.  With a guest list of Catholics, Lutherans, Protestants, Jews, and a few others thrown in for good measure, we expected some questions, and we worked hard to put together a ceremony that was both true to our spirituality and not alienating for our guests.  In the end we heard nothing but good about our ceremony, and it was everything we’d dreamed of.  I guess, in a way, it was our coming out, and we did so my showing how beautiful our spirituality can be.

I’ve felt my sexuality from a very young age.  I don’t think there was ever a question in my mind or heart that I was Pansexual, even if I didn’t have the words for any of it.  My mother never told me I was wrong, and it was just who I was.  I never felt the need to have a “coming out”.  I did try to talk about it a few times, but it never resulted in anything memorable.  Though he had heard me use the word “girlfriend”, the first time my father and I ever discussed it he had met my girlfriend and was more concerned about the trappings of polyamory than anything else.  That was the same weekend Hubby and took him to his first Pride festival.  He wasn’t particularly comfortable, but he went along with us and did what he has always done as my dad.  He watched and listened and didn’t judge or protest.

Our talks with our respective families about polyamory was as close as I have ever come to “coming out”.    Hubby just up and mentioned our girlfriend in conversation one day.  My dad asked me on a visit from California because my grandmother had taken to reading my blog and had given it her own twist.  In each case the conversation was calm and pretty well received.  Both parents met our partners at the time, and once they were sure we were being safe and that we were both happy with the arrangement they were fine.

A lot of my lazy “coming out” process can be attributed to social media.  I only have the energy and time for one Facebook, so all my friends and family get to see the same online persona.  I have had cousins I didn’t know paid that much attention tell me they think it’s really positive how I live.  This past summer I had a really relaxed conversation about polyamory with my grandmother, dad, and a cousin, and no one seemed weirded out about it.

This has been my experience more often than not in my family, and for that I can be grateful, because I know it isn’t the case for everyone.  I am in constant awe and appreciation that I can discuss men who are not my husband with my mother-in-law and she doesn’t even bat an eye.  I feel like I could tell my dad I like to paint myself purple and roll in marshmallows and he wouldn’t judge me unless it led to some kind of jail time.  I’ve never felt the need to make a grand gesture of “coming out” because I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be accepted for being who I am and acting accordingly.

There is a saying that “coming out” is something we do every time we meet someone new, and it’s true.  I do it whenever I mention my husband and my girlfriend in casual conversation.  I do it whenever our whole family goes somewhere together and I don’t introduce our partners as “friends”.  I do it when I wear rainbow or pentagram jewelry or someone sees my poly heart tattoo.  I do it by how I live, because I refuse to censor myself for strangers.  If you ask about my family, my holidays, or my home I will tell you the truth.  This is just the way it is for me, no matter what day it is.

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The Dating Game

“If you weren’t married would you still be poly?”

The question caught me off guard, not because it was inappropriate, but because I’d never considered it before. While I was open to the idea and leaning in that direction, I was not poly before meeting Hubby, nor were we poly right off the bat. It was a process that led us to this decision, and one I didn’t make lightly. Since then I have never imagined a time when Hubby and I wouldn’t be married, so it’s never been a question that came up.

The only answer that I can come to after some thought is “I don’t know”.

I have never needed to be poly. I could and would be perfectly happy being monogamous in my marriage, and that’s why I am poly. I love that I can explore and experience new partners, but it’s not a requirement to my happiness with Hubby. This was his idea to begin with, and one I agreed to because I love him and want to experience this life with him in a way that suits us both. This best suits him.

Some things to consider:

Would dating as a single woman be easier if I were not poly? It might be if the people I dated were not poly. I could introduce it the way Hubby did for me. I’m not sure I’d start my new single dating life with someone who was already living with someone or married, but I could see a new relationship blossoming into a plural situation.

Would I be willing to date someone who was against being poly? For the right person I will do almost anything. I obviously can’t grant that request at this time, because I am already married, but if the right person asked and I were single I definitely would.

What about the pansexuality? I may be attracted to all kinds of people, regardless of gender, but that doesn’t mean I need to be sleeping with them all to be happy. It just means I don’t care how my partner identifies. There are plenty of happy monogamously committed pansexual people out there. I could be one of them, again for the right person.

I guess a lot of this makes it sound like I’m a pushover, but I’m not. I am, and always have been, willing to offer the right person or people what they need for us both to flourish in a relationship. With Hubby it’s been polyamory and a D/s dynamic. With someone else it might be neither of those things. Does it mean it changes my interests or desires? Not at all. It merely means I’m willing to compromise and sacrifice a little for love.

I will say that the one thing I will not compromise or change is my spirituality. I am very strong in my faith and how I practice, and that is something that has remained constant throughout my life. It can be extremely hard for a pagan to be seriously involved with a non-pagan, and it has caused turbulence for me in the past.

I was extremely fortunate to find a man who is also pansexual and pagan, and the poly aspect was a bit of icing on that cake, but not a required ingredient. We very quickly hit our stride and fell into how we operate as a couple. If he were no longer in my life for some reason I’m not sure I’d find that same fit with anyone else. It’s not really something I intend to explore any time soon.

A conversation came up recently about “coming out”, and it dawned on me that I never did.  I tried once.  When I told my grandmother about my bisexuality she asked me if I was sure, told me she had friends in high school she kissed, insisted that did not make her bisexual, and told me to just not make a scene.  I have never been a fan of big emotional scenes where my family is concerned, and it seemed sophomoric for me to make a big announcement about who I choose to love or who catches my interest.  In that same vein I never really announced when I chose a spiritual path or the fact that Hubby and I are polyamorists either.  People will notice and figure it out or they won’t.  It doesn not affect how we live our lives one way or the other.

I am never sure how my family would have responded had I “come out”.  Sometime after I started high school I started slipping the word “girlfriend” into conversation, and I have never hid my interest in any girl in front of my family.  It recently came to my attention that there is more than I assumed about my life my family never noticed.  I never made an effort to actively hide these things.  I just never saw the need for histrionics or more emotions that I already carried within me.  Perhaps this was not fair to them.  Perhaps they deserved a chance to experience my adolescence with me.  Perhaps a part of my growing, healing, and understanding life and the world around me could have also been a growing and learning experience for them.

When I moved to Pennsylvania there were things that just never came up, which meant there were more things my family never knew about my life.  With the advent and assimilation of my family into social networking sites there was a little more awareness of who I am.  As long as other people resist telling my family things about me that are either misconceptions or ignorant assumptions this has mostly been a positive change in how my family and I relate and communicate.  This blog came a missing link of sorts, as it covers my past as well as my present in more detail than a Facebook status or phone conversation.  I often get more intimate with my readers than I do over the phone or in person, so there will be things here people would not necessarily know otherwise.  This is not a personal slight.  I am just more comfortable in this venue than a face to face situation with most people when it comes to possibly emotional topics.

A while ago my grandmother “friend requested” me on Facebook, and it handed me a choice that I pondered for a while.  Did I deny the request and leave her to wonder why, add her and censor my life, or add her and accept that there may be questions about the adult I have become.  I decided to act like just that, a mature adult with my own life.  I had a smaller version of this dilemma with co-workers, friends from my past, and anyone new in my life.  I realize there are things people may find out about me that are difficult and may spawn questions, but I can not fathom hiding who I am from anyone I love.  If they love me in return they will accept me and share in my joy in my life.  I guess, in a way, this is a form of coming out for me.

What about you, dear readers?  If you live an alternative lifestyle are you “out”?  How did you do it?  How do you life the lifestyle?  I would love to hear from you.  This  blog is about your stories as much as it is about mine.

Hi, I’m pansexual, pagan, and polyamorous.  Who are you?

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