Coming Out Poly in a Christian Family: All in Good Time

2 men and woman

by Lavena Burke

The last time I came out to my family, which was actually to my mom and sister, it was not received as well as I had hoped. I admitted that I was no longer Christian and that I did not wish to follow any organized religion. My sister was kind about it, but never really comprehended my purpose for change. It felt like my ideals were being tolerated, but not accepted as an option. My mother, who often proclaimed that we could tell her anything, took it the worst. Her questions were demeaning and condemning. When I would try to approach the subject, she would insinuate that I had become a devil worshipper. Yes, it was harsh. I thought if they couldn’t accept my spiritual choices then, perhaps, they might not accept my Polyamorous love life either. When you experience something so profound, though, you want to share it with those you love.

When people meet the person they want to spend their lives with, they share it with family, and friends; and now, thanks to social media, even strangers. The loving couple is doted upon and blessed with well wishes. Those who dare to love family-reunion-335differently, however, are not so warmly received. My fantasy would be to tell my family about my second partner and have them say, “I am so happy for you. I would love to meet him when he visits.” I want him to be embraced and appreciated for what he adds to my life. I want them to know that I have been careful in my decision. I want them to remember their love for me and examine how far it actually goes. Hopefully it reaches from the depths of their hearts, far past their religious notions and traditional beliefs, directly to me. You know, love, for real.

Love, the real kind, is not always experienced in these situations. Sometimes people’s souls are damned to hell and mindsfear are questioned for sanity. My fear is that my own family will think it is all for sex; and will judge me accordingly. I fear I will be outcast and my child’s wellbeing scrutinized. A pastor, or two, may be called upon to look in on me, to make sure I am not possessed, or something equivalent to that. I will not have the freedom to tell others on my own terms; everyone will already know so that they might pray for my depraved spirit. I know these fears appear extreme, but these are the images that haunt my thoughts. I am afraid it may become my reality.

 My reality is that, my family will, likely, assume that it is a phase. My mother will want to know if my son is aware of it and whether or not my husband approves. My sister will not understand my desire to love someone else because she is a big supporter of my relationship with my husband. She will ask a lot of questions and at the end of the conversation excited womanwill wish me well. Neither my mother nor my sister will condemn me. They will hope that I get over it, but will love me all the same, knowing that I won’t. Telling those two will be the first step to telling the world, I am Polyamorous.

Some days I want to shout from the rooftops that I have discovered a part of myself that is so wonderful and freeing. My family is important to me, and I want them to share in my happiness. I know that it is naive of me to think that everyone should just accept my lifestyle with the same enthusiasm. Not everyone will get it. However, I do not ever want to feel like I am hiding who I am, or that I am ashamed of my second lover.  I will be patient in sharing my news. I will let it be exposed naturally and will not be afraid of anyone’s reaction.  I understand that my life is really no one else’s to live, but I want to share it. I just have to remember it will all happen in good time.

Written by Lavena Burke

Edited by WritetoMind 

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6 comments

  1. Chandra Kamaria

    It’s comical that so many people in our community don’t bother to understand something before assuming the least. All you’re doing is loving unashamedly. Meanwhile, they tout that monogamy paradigm and struggle like all hell at being successful. Polyamory will save a lot of marriages, but noooo, people are expecting some kind of impossible perfection within marriages. No one can live up to every single need that a person has throughout a lifetime. I applaud you!

    • Lavena Burke

      Thank you. It may be difficult for our community to step outside of what is taught as normal. We fight hard enough trying to find our place in this country as it is. As we try to identify what being black in America means, we must learn to embrace our own differences. That means loving one another despite sexual, religious, or any other lifestyle preferences. When we begin to love ourselves despite of and because of our variety, we can strengthen our community.

  2. bitrinity

    I appreciate you sharing your story. I am in the same boat in some ways. I’m bisexual. Have known since the 10th grade and No family member knows. Maybe one, and we don’t even talk. Like ever. So bascially no one knows. I want to tell them. I’m married but was able to tuck it away and tell myself “Why tell them when I fell in love with a man?” At the same time, I’m still denying a part of myself and over the years I keep coming back to wanting to tell them.

    Earlier in the year I found out about polyamory. I’d have thoughts about it and had no idea it was real and had a name. I’m already married. And a part of me really wants to branch out and try being polyamourous. I feel it would be beneficial to me in our relationship though, i’m not sure how my husband would feel. I want to bring it up but am terrified he will just think I want to sleep around and leave me.

    If you had any advice or resources on this, I would appreciate it greatly. I congratulate you on at least being able to be honest with your partners which matters a great deal. Much Love.

    • Lavena Burke

      Bitrinity, I am very new to this lifestyle, but what has worked for my husband is communication. There were points when I would say things in a manner that I felt appeased him. I was afraid that he would think that I loved him less. We have been married for over 7 years, so he knew that I was not being completely honest–that caused more harm than good. I had to firstly decide if polyamory was something I was willing to explore. When I knew that it was for me, I had to be honest with him. His response is just that–his. Him being angry does not change the fact that I am capable of loving another man. With that knowledge I found the courage to tell him how I felt and we began working from there. The first month was a lot of talking and crying and even some yelling. I even considered not pursuing this just to keep peace; but that would risk my inner peace. As a newbie, the only advice I can properly give is to be honest with yourself first, then with your husband, and to communicate often. I hope that this was helpful and I hope that you can find as much support from the Black and Poly group as I have so far. Good luck to you on this journey.

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