Last week, three Canadian men — Adam Grant, Sebastian Tran and Shayne Curran — publicly came out about their polyamorous relationship. In a video posted online and a range of stories that followed, the three announced their imminent “marriage” as well as their desire to have children.
They seem to have received significant support from their loved ones and others around the world, but not everyone is happy. Grant, Tran and Curran have also received a torrent of abuse — particularly from gay men. Some examples here.
I have experienced this sort of abuse firsthand. In May this year I did something similar to these three by openly talking about my polyamorous relationship with my partners, James and Martyn. The reaction from friends and family was overwhelming, but gay men were quick to tell me I was “hurting our chances” at winning same sex marriage. Others insisted that my relationships were morally wrong as “monogamy is natural”. These are the exact same kind of attacks I’ve seen being used against the Canadian trio.
This is not coming from a few on the fringe. Responding to the idea of polyamory marriage in 2012, for example, the then convenor of Australian Marriage Equality (AME) Alex Greenwich told journalists the organisation’s concept of marriage was "what it's always been" of "two people who rely on each other in a relationship to the exclusion of all others”. This was echoed by comments of AME’s current convenor Rodney Croome, who once wrote that 'polyamorous people don’t want marriage'.
Since when did gay groups start to parrot the messaging of the conservatives who attack us? Conservatives have often argued, for example, that “homosexuality is unnatural” and “humans have always been in heterosexual relationships”, as an attack on gay rights. Replace “marriage has always been between two people” with “marriage has always been between a man and a woman” and you’ll find one of the most common lines of attack against marriage equality.
Why are we now using the exact same lines against people in other non-traditional relationships?
This is the consequence of a ‘gay equality’ movement that has become so narrowly focused on marriage that we’re sacrificing anyone who gets in the way. It seems for many gays that all love is equal, except when that love is shared between more than two people. In our desire to get wed we’ve it’s become okay to attack people who are in happy, open, and totally consensual relationships.
That’s not just about polyamory, it goes for those who are single, happily promiscuous or in open relationships. If you don’t fit the coupled mould, gays are ready to throw you under the bus — calling your relationships ‘destructive’ and ‘unnatural’.
When it comes to relationships, the only thing we should ever be concerned about is harm.
Being polyamorous, I’ve become used to these sorts of attacks from conservatives, but it is so much worse when it comes from gay men. Prejudice is ugly, but even more from those who have supposedly been fighting against it all their lives.
When it comes to relationships, the only thing we should ever be concerned about is harm. If a relationship is not harmful, then what right do you have to attack it? If love is love, then why does this not count when that love is expressed between more than two people?
You’d think that after years of fighting for acceptance, gay men would be the first to realise this. It’s a failure of the rights groups whose focus has been on straightening queer people to get access to a set of rights for a limited few. After years of fighting for acceptance they should be the first to support and congratulate people carving their own way. The fact they’re not says a lot about how far we’ve really come.
Simon Copland is a freelance writer and climate campaigner. He is a regular columnist for the Star Observer and blogs at The Moonbat.